Malaysia's Mahathir offers to testify against Azmin in lawsuit filed by voters, signalling fraying ties

Dr Mahathir (left) offered to testify after Mr Azmin said that it was the former PM’s idea to form the PN with Malay parties from both sides of the aisle. PHOTOS: REUTERS, BERNAMA

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has offered to testify against Senior Minister Azmin Ali in a lawsuit brought by Datuk Seri Azmin's constituents in Gombak ward.

Tun Dr Mahathir said on Wednesday (Dec 2) that as some of the allegations against Mr Azmin in the lawsuit were stated by him previously, he was willing to assist the 10 Gombak voters who claimed that the Cabinet minister broke his promises as their MP when he changed political sides in February by joining Perikatan Nasional.

The move by Dr Mahathir, 95, signalled fraying ties with Mr Azmin, 56, who was once close to the elder statesman.

"Based on the statement of claim filed by the 10 registered voters, I was advised by lawyers that the suit was filed against Azmin for breaking his sworn oath as Gombak MP, ignoring the trust of the Gombak voters for self-interest, doing away with his promises during the last general election campaign and committing a tort of deceit.

"The statement of claim includes the Sheraton Move and the formation of Perikatan, which divided Pakatan Harapan (PH), the then elected government," Dr Mahathir said in a Facebook post.

"It also stated that I did not attend the gathering at Sheraton Hotel on Feb 23, that I resigned on Feb 24 and Azmin is now cooperating with Barisan Nasional leaders who faced or are facing criminal charges.

"I am ready to offer myself as a witness in court if my testimony is required. I am willing to assist," added Dr Mahathir.

He said the court is the best forum to prove these allegations and feels that the suit is a brave act on the part of the rakyat.

The 10 voters from Gombak constituency in Selangor on Dec 1 filed a suit against Mr Azmin, alleging deceit and breach of fiduciary duty for leaving the PH that was ruling Malaysia to join Perikatan Nasional (PN).

The defection of Mr Azmin and other lawmakers led to the collapse of the PH government at the end of February, and it was replaced by PN, which is led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Mr Azmin is one of the four senior ministers in the PN government.

The group who filed the suit - Mr Affandy Abd Raof Faiz, Mr B. Balasuntharam, Ms Fatimah Begum Abu Bakar, Mr Koo Kim Seng, Ms Mazidah Mohd Noor, Mr Md Yusof Ismail, Mr Muhammad Safwan Md Anuar, Mr R. Prasath, Mr S. Ramaksihnan and Mr P. M. Subasini - did so through lawyer Yohendra Nadarajan on Nov 27.

The plaintiffs, aged between 36 and 67 years old, named Mr Azmin as the sole defendant.

A check on the court's e-filing system showed that the lawsuit has been fixed for case management before deputy registrar Maslinda Selamat.

Dr Mahathir's offer to testify in the case came just days after Mr Azmin said in an interview with The Star daily that was published on Sunday that Dr Mahathir was behind the move to form the PN with Malay parties from both sides of the aisle.

Under that plan, Mr Azmin had claimed, Dr Mahathir would remain as prime minister.

Dr Mahathir has denied the claims, saying that if these were true he would have remained prime minister today.

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