OOPS! COURT THROWS OUT UMNO YOUTH NO.2’s DEFAMATION SUIT, ORDERS HIM TO PAY RAFIZI RM73,000 COSTS OVER SHADY MARA AUSSIE DEAL
The Kuala Lumpur High Court today dismissed Umno Youth deputy chief Khairul Azwan Harun’s defamation suit against PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli over the latter’s claim of possible abuse of funds in Mara’s Australian property purchase.
Justice S Nantha Balan awarded a total of RM73,000 costs to be paid by Khairul Azwan to Rafizi. These include the RM23,000 that Rafizi had spent to get documents from Australia.
The judge said there was no malice on Rafizi’s part when making his claims on Khairul Azwan, as they were based on the Pandan MP’s own study and research, which included court proceedings in Australia.
“The matter warrants an investigation and to be looked into as it is of public interest,” said the judge.
“Of course only a thorough investigation, if carried out without fear or favour, will or should at any rate, reveal the identities of the insufferable miscreants behind the property transaction.
“There is to my mind enough evidence to demonstrate that there is a prima facie case for an investigation to be carried out to determine the identities of those involved in the property transactions,” he added.
Khairul Azwan or better known as Azwan Bro had sued Rafizi on Aug 1, last year, for distributing and publishing defamatory statements against him at a July 6 press conference over the property purchase.
The plaintiff said he had held a press conference to deny the statements on the same day, on being involved in Mara Inc’s purchase of a student hostel at 746 Swanston Street in Melbourne.
Khairul Azwan, who is Biosis Group Berhad director, said the statements, among others, had questioned his alleged involvement in the purchase and business dealings at the 746 Swanston Street property by a company wholly owned by Mara Inc, Thrushcross Land Holdings Limited, which experienced leakages of RM63 million.
Khairul Azwan said the defamatory statements were published in online portals which could be shared by internet users worldwide and this had tarnished his reputation as a businessman and politician.
He said it had also resulted in him being despised by the public for allegedly being involved in the dubious transactions.
Rafizi’s lawyer William Leong told Malaysiakini of the outcome of the decision.
‘Statement does not impugn plaintiff’
Justice Nantha Balan also commented on the impugned paragraph in the statement, which touched on how certain individuals should come forward and explain the property transactions.
“It most certainly is not a statement of fact which impugns the conduct of the plaintiff as being guilty of corrupt practice of abuse of power,” he said.
Rafizi in his press conference had asked five individuals who are holding posts in Umno Youth, including Khairul Azwan himself, to explain the purported leakage of RM63 million as a result of the purchases.
The judge also said Rafizi did not act with malice, adding that he had no doubt that the defendant’s action was actuated by nothing more than a public-spirited duty to disclose wrongdoings involving public funds.
“This is to be a catalyst for public discussion over these matters so that explanations are forthcoming and investigations must be carried out by those whose duty is to either explain or carry out investigations,” he said.
No doubt, he added, the property transactions involve public interests as it involves monies belonging to Mara and this means a defalcation of public funds.
‘Rafizi not reckless’
Justice Nantha Balan also commended Rafizi for having done his own investigation after being tipped off by informants.
“As a result, he has gathered much detailed information and documents concerning the property transactions. This is most certainly not a case where the defendant was ‘shooting from his hip’.
“Rather, he has painstakingly undertaken a fair amount of research into the topic before going public with the expose on the property transactions,” he said.