PETALING JAYA: PAS’s decision to send Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle Brown a letter of demand asking her to retract an article claiming its top leadership received millions from Najib Razak was nothing more than a political gimmick.
Zaid Ibrahim also warned that the Islamist party’s actions would only open a can of worms.
“A defamation suit would cost up to RM1.5 million in legal fees, which would subsequently lead to many questioning the party as to how it obtained such funds.
“Also, taking up such a case will require the party having to reveal the sources of their funds and whether such funds were donations from the party’s loyal supporters in the rural areas,” Zaid wrote in a blog post today.
As such, Zaid said a defamation suit could lead to several revelations that could embarrass the party.
He added that if PAS proceeds with legal proceedings in the United Kingdom, Rewcastle Brown would also be entitled to subpoena Prime Minister Najib Razak and this would strain the party’s “intimate ties” with Umno.
“Whoever advised PAS to sue Sarawak Report took the easy way out and is not smart.
“Even if PAS had the means to do so, they should not embarrass the prime minister by taking legal action,” he said, adding that he wondered if PAS’s syura council had thought through the decision before making it public.
Zaid said he was writing about this so that PAS members will be made aware of the implications of dragging the Sarawak Report editor to court.
Last Friday, PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said the party’s lawyers in the United Kingdom had sent a letter of demand to Sarawak Report on Dec 13.
He said the letter contained three demands urging Sarawak Report to retract the article dated Aug 6, 2016 and to issue an apology according to terms agreed by the party.
The third demand seeks Sarawak Report to give an undertaking not to publish false accusations in future.
Sarawak Report had alleged that RM90 million was “reckoned” to have entered into the accounts of top PAS leaders.
According to the report, the money transacted was one of Najib’s attempts to “woo” the PAS leadership into supporting Barisan Nasional and Umno.
Rewcastle Brown has since claimed that PAS had a political motive when it made public the contents of the demand letter recently.
Zaid also said he found it interesting that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang was named as a plaintiff in the suit when his name was not mentioned by the Sarawak Report.
“Is this an attempt to embarrass and isolate Hadi before party elections next year?”
The former de facto law minister said in his long legal career, he has never seen a political party win a defamation case.
“And in this matter, PAS does not even have any legal basis to file such a case,” he added, urging the Islamist party to drop its “useless political gimmick” and save its money for the impending general election. -FMT