Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak today served news portal Malaysiakini with a writ of summons over readers comments published by the website.
The writ and statement of claim was delivered by hand to the news portal at its Bangsar Utama office today.
Named as defendants are Malaysiakini publisher Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, editor-in-chief Steven Gan and chief editor Fathi Aris Omar.
Co-claimant in the suit is Umno executive secretary Abdul Rauf Yusoh.
The claimants say that the compilation of readers' comments in two ‘Yoursay’ articles published on May 14, namely ‘A case of the PM reaping what he sows’ and ‘How much will Najib spend to keep Terengganu?’ , were defamatory.
Case management is set for June 18 before High Court justice SM Komathy Suppiah.
'We intend to fight the suit vigorously'
In response, Gan said the independent news portal had expected such action after Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia attacked Malaysiakini readers last month.
He said the news portal, as always, had offered Najib the right of reply and to engage Malaysiakini readers.
“He was more than welcome to explain to them why he thought their opinions of him and Umno were wrong,” said Gan (left) .
He said the prime minister and Umno should have presented their views, which would have been published on the website, rather than pursuing libel proceedings against media organisations.
This offer was rejected by Najib in a letter sent to Malaysiakini last Thursday.
"We intend to fight the suit vigorously," added Gan.
Similarly, Fathi said the news portal had extended the opportunity to the prime minister and Umno to explain their side of the issue.
“But they have decided to take us to court.
"Due to this, the only thing left to be said is, ‘Dear prime minister, see you in court’.
"This is part and parcel of being a journalist, especially if you choose to report without fear or favour," Fathi (middle in picture) said.
Other court cases
Apart from the Najib suit, Malaysiakini is currently contesting several other high profile cases, namely:
- Former Federal Territories Minister Raja Nong Chik Zainal Abidin is suing Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and Malaysiakini for her comments published in the website during the 13th general election;
It lost its case at the High Court against the Home Minister's ban of Zunar's 1 Funny Malaysia cartoon book, which it had published.
The case is pending at the Court of Appeal.
NOTE: The full, 30-page Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim dated May 30, 2014, served on Malaysiakini and its editors can be accessed here .