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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Woman sues PKR lawmaker over statement on alleged sexual harassment


A woman is suing a PKR lawmaker for defamation over the latter’s media statement regarding an alleged sexual harassment incident.

The 48-year-old’s defamation suit against Sungai Siput MP S Kesavan came up for its first day of hearing before the Kuala Lumpur High Court today.

According to a copy of the writ of summons sighted by the media, the suit was filed by law firm Messrs Suflan TH Liew & Partners on July 16, 2019.

The plaintiff, who claimed to be Kesavan's former research officer, is suing him over a statement he made during a press conference on May 18, 2019, where he brushed off an allegation that he had sexually harassed the woman.

A day earlier on May 17, Malaysiakini reported that the PKR lawmaker and the woman, who was also the party's former Perak division treasurer, lodged police reports against each other.

In the woman's police report, she accused the first-term MP of sexual harassment. The PKR lawmaker, on the other hand, alleged that she subjected him to mental torture and trauma.

Kesavan's press statement at the time claimed that he became depressed after the woman attempted to call him numerous times, threatened to humiliate him and attempted to ruin his marriage, among others. 

In the woman’s statement of claim for her defamation action, she alleged that his remarks had painted her as having bad intentions and being untrustworthy, among other claims.

“Due to the publication of the words as stated in paragraph five (of the woman’s statement of claim), the plaintiff was brought into public scandal, odium and disrepute,” she contended.

She claimed that her lawyers had issued a legal letter to Kesavan on June 19, 2019, seeking his full apology, retraction of the alleged defamatory words and payment of damages among other demands.

Sungai Siput MP S Kesavan

However, she contended that the defendant through his legal team on July 11 the same year replied to her via a letter but without complying with the demands.

Through the defamation suit, she seeks aggravated and exemplary damages and an injunction to restrain him from further publishing the alleged defamatory words.

She is also seeking a five percent annual interest on any awarded damages, calculated from the date of judgment to the date of the full payment settlement, costs and any other relief deemed fit by the court.

Kesavan claims to have recorded phone calls

Meanwhile, according to a copy of his statement of defence filed on Aug 22, 2019, Kesavan pleaded the defence of justification, denying that the statement he made was defamatory.

He claimed to possess audio records of telephone calls in Tamil between him and the woman at the time which he contended would show the truthfulness of his statement.

“Furthermore and/or in the alternative, the statement complained about is true. Furthermore and/or in the alternative, the defendant had recorded several telephone conversations between the plaintiff and defendant (in Tamil), at the material time, and the recorded telephone conversations will prove that the complained about statement is true,” Kesavan's lawyers said.

The defamation suit is being heard by High Court judge Azimah Omar.

Kesavan is represented by a legal team from Messrs A Arman & Co. - Mkini

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