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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Umno's Puad invites PM to debate Covid-19 'double standard' claim


Faced with a defamation suit from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Umno supreme council member Mohd Puad Zarkashi today invited the Bersatu president to face him in a public debate.

The debate invitation came ahead of a one-week deadline for Puad's lawyers to respond to Muhyiddin's letter of demand, seeking RM10 million compensation for his Facebook post alleging double standards in Covid-19 procedures.

"It turns out there is no 'double standard' in the issue of legal suits. One day maybe it wouldn't be impossible for a fisherman, rubber tapper or Grab driver to be sued by the prime minister.

"If that's the case then there is nothing wrong with me debating Muhyiddin before going to court," Puad said on Facebook.

"People cannot say it's not the prime minister's level to debate with me," added the former Special Affairs Department (Jasa) chief.

On Feb 9, the Prime Minister’s Office threatened legal action against Puad over his post, unless he issued a public apology.

Puad had among others claimed Muhyiddin and his officers had "refused" to undergo mandatory quarantine after returning from an official visit to Jakarta last month.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin

He also alleged Muhyiddin's refusal had prompted Health Minister Dr Adham Baba to issue a new order via a federal gazette which stated that ministers who return from official visits abroad are subject to only three days of quarantine under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act 1988.

Commenting further on his debate offer, Puad said he was not out to blame any parties.

"If suing is allowed, why shouldn't a debate be allowed? Hopefully SinarAstro or RTM can play host.

"A debate is not about ego. It's not about finding 'who is wrong' but to find 'what is wrong'," he added.

In his Facebook post today, the Umno man expressed gratitude that processes to fight the suit has been eased.

"Alhamdulillah, relieved. Finished the first round. Granted I'm not used to handling a lawyer because I was never sued before.

"What more being sued by an individual with the status of prime minister," he added.

Meanwhile, lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla offered to be the moderator of the debate.

"If neither of them has a moderator or no one is willing to be the moderator, and if they actually won’t mind, I’d like to be the moderator, free of charge," he said, adding that the terms and conditions and the topic can be agreed between both parties. - Mkini

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