The High Court in Kuala Lumpur has fixed Oct 26 to decide whether to strike out Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's defamation suit against former MCA president Dr Ling Liong Sik.
Ling's lawyer Ranjit Singh confirmed the date with Malaysiakini.
“We received a letter from the court informing us of the date of the decision,” he said.
Initially Justice Nor Bee Ariffin, who heard Ling's application to strike out Najib's suit two weeks ago, had stated that she would deliver her decision sometime in November.
The former transport minister wants to strike out Najib's suit on the grounds that the Umno president and BN chairperson filed it in his official capacity as prime minister instead of his personal capacity.
Ling's lawyers argued that this meant Najib had no locus standi (legal standing) to file the suit as public officials can be subject to criticism.
They cited Derbyshire County Council v Times Newspapers, in the United Kingdom, and Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob's suit against Utusan Malaysia.
In the former case, the Law Lords held that, as a matter of policy, the council could not sue for defamation.
In the latter case, the Court of Appeal decided Adnan could not proceed with the defamation suit against the newspaper in his capacity as a public official.
“If you look at the statement of claim and the article, Ling agreed with (former premier) Dr Mahathir Mohamad's opinion when asked by a reporter, that Najib should resign as PM.
“That is one indication that Najib is suing as PM and not in his personal capacity,” Ranjit had told the judge.\But Najib's lawyer Mohd Hafarizam Harun told the court that Ling's attack on Najib was personal in nature and hence the principle applied in the Derbyshire case does not apply.
Najib filed the suit against Ling last October for the latter's remarks that Najib had allegedly taken public funds.
Lim had said this when calling on the prime minister to resign.
Najib who is seeking general, aggravated and exemplary damages, complained that the words Ling uttered meant he had abused his powers, was not qualified to be the leader of a government, was involved in a scandalous or financial conspiracy, and was not fit to be the BN chairperson.
Ling in his defence and counter-claim, questioned why Najib had singled him out with the suit, when he should have also taken action against past and present Umno leaders who criticised him. - Mkini