Ling Liong Sik counter-sues Najib over libel suit

Dr Ling (above) filed his counter suit after Mr Najib sued him over his remarks which allegedly implied that the Premier had misused public funds for his personal interests.
Dr Ling (above) filed his counter suit after Mr Najib sued him over his remarks which allegedly implied that the Premier had misused public funds for his personal interests.

Ex-minister claiming damages, citing alleged abuse of civil process, following PM's suit

KUALA LUMPUR • Former Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) president Ling Liong Sik is counter-suing Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak over his libel suit against the former Cabinet minister, The Star reported yesterday.

Citing an alleged abuse of civil process, Tun Dr Ling said Datuk Seri Najib did not pursue any action for defamation against others - including Umno leaders - who have repeatedly criticised his conduct and integrity on various occasions.

In his court papers, Dr Ling said he had suffered losses and was claiming damages, interests, costs and further relief deemed fit by the court.

His lead counsel, Mr Ranjit Singh, said the suit was filed at the High Court civil registry yesterday.

Mr Najib's lead counsel, Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun, confirmed that the law firm received a copy of the statement of defence with the counter-claim on the same day.

The Prime Minister is suing Dr Ling over his remarks which allegedly implied that he had misused public funds for his personal interests.

In his suit, Mr Najib said that an online news portal had on Oct 3 published an article saying Dr Ling had made slanderous statements against him while attending a ceremony at Tunku Abdul Rahman University College.

Dr Ling was quoted as saying in the article that he agreed with former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's demands for Mr Najib to resign, claiming that Mr Najib "has taken people's money and put it in his own personal accounts".

In his statement of claim filed on Oct 27, Mr Najib sought damages and an injunction to restrain Dr Ling from further speaking or causing to be published any similar defamatory words against him.

Dr Ling had made the remarks in an article which was published in the Malay Mail online portal.

The Premier was also asking for an order that Dr Ling publish a written apology in newspapers or magazines to be identified by him.

In his statement of defence, Dr Ling said the civil claim was frivolous and vexatious and denied all allegations against him.

Dr Ling said Mr Najib had admitted that the amount of RM2.6 billion (S$3.7 billion), which Mr Najib said was a political donation, was transferred into his personal bank accounts.

Dr Ling added that he was relying on the defence of fair comment and qualified privilege over his remarks. He also denied tarnishing Mr Najib's reputation.

The High Court will next hear the case on Jan 11.

Separately, lawyers for Mr Najib and Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor yesterday said the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) lacked the locus standi to initiate a suit it had taken against the two and several others over the party's claims that they had breached electoral laws over the use of the RM2.6 billion donation found in Mr Najib's accounts.

The Premier and Umno have tried to justify the money - most of which was received just weeks before the May 2013 General Election - as donations for political funding.

Lawyer Mohd Hafarizam said that PKR lacked the locus standi to initiate the suit as it had failed to show it had a genuine interest in the matter or that the party's rights were affected, The Malaysian Insider reported.

He also said the declaration sought by PKR contained criminal elements which were out of the jurisdiction of the civil courts, the website reported.

In response, PKR's lawyer, Mr Tommy Thomas, said the plaintiffs had the grounds to initiate the suit. He added that Mr Najib, as the Prime Minister and Finance Minister, was accountable to the nation and had a duty to publicly respond to the allegations.

The court will next hear this case on Jan 21.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2015, with the headline 'Ling Liong Sik counter-sues Najib over libel suit'. Print Edition | Subscribe