Sultanah Nur Zahirah of Terengganu has insisted that there is no need for her to testify in the defamation suit she brought against Sarawak editor-in-chief Clare Rewcastle-Brown and two others related to 1MDB scandal.
The suit concerns allegedly defamatory statements in the British journalist’s 2018 book, “The Sarawak Report – The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose”.
Counsel Vishnu Kumar said in his submission that his client, Sultanah Nur Zahirah, had proven the elements of defamation via her affidavits submitted in the court.
He said the alleged defamatory statements published by defendants referred to the sultanah and not the state ruler, as the statements used the word “she”.
“The need for witnesses to testify on the referenced element does not arise because it refers to the plaintiff,” he said.
Vishnu also pointed to the fact where Rewcastle Brown replaced the word “wife of the sultan” to “sister of the sultan” in her amended version of the book.
“[…]Then by conduct the defendants appear to admit she was wrong to have made the defamatory statements concerning the plaintiff in the said book,” he said.
Vishu said the amendment does not neutralise the alleged defamatory content of the Rewcastle-Brown’s book and does not take away the sting.
The content of the book is still defamatory and the onus has shifted to the defendants to prove their case, he said.
On May 13, Sultanah Nur Zahirah applied to Order 14A of Rules of Court 2012, for the suit to be summarily disposed of without going for a full trial.
She asked the court to allow her not to testify in an open court.
Justice Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim fixed Oct 18 for hearing where counsel Americk Singh Sidhu will present his submission on behalf of Rewcastle-Brown and two others.
On Nov 21 last year, Sultanah Nur Zahirah had applied for her defamation suit against Rewcastle Brown, Gerakbudaya Enterprise publisher Chong Ton Sin and printer Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd to be decided via summary judgment as provided for under Order 14A of the Rules of Court 2012.
The suit is related to a passage in Rewcastle Brown’s book, The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of The 1MDB Expose which the sultanah alleged, linked her to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal and fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or better known as Jho Low.
The plaintiff claimed that the statements implied that she was involved in corrupt acts and interfered in the administration of Terengganu.
Sultanah Nur Zahirah is seeking RM100 million in damages and wants the second defendant Chong to withdraw the books containing the defamatory statements, as well as stop third defendant Vinlin Press from printing more copies of the book.
In their statement of defence, the three defendants denied they had ever accused Sultanah Nur Zahirah of having been involved in corrupt acts.