Deadline for WSJ expires, PM's lawyers wait

Modified 21 Jul 2015, 7:01 am

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak may finally issue a letter of demand through his lawyers against  The Wall Street Journal  (WSJ), which has been silent on Najib’s demand for clarification on its report that state money was found in the prime minister's personal accounts.

Berita Harian  quoted Najib’s lawyer Wan Azmir Wan Majid as saying that as of yesterday - the eve of the deadline imposed on the US financial daily's owner Dow Jones - they have not obtained any response from WSJ.

“If we do not receive any response (today), then  Prime Minister Najib Razak has several legal options, including to sue or to issue a letter of demand against WSJ.

“This is because Dow Jones’ refusal to give any reply or explanation can be construed as an admission of guilt,” the lawyer from the law firm Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak reportedly told the Malay language daily yesterday.

Wan Azmir said it was now too early to know the prime minister’s next course of action, and the law firm is waiting for further instructions from Najib.

Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak had on July 8 sent a letter to Dow Jones asking for clarification on two articles published in the WSJ, which carried the headline "Malaysia leader's accounts probed" and "Scandal in Malaysia".

The two articles were published on July 2 and July 6 respectively, and both were authored by Simon Clark and Tom Wright.

Among others, the articles alleged that US$700 million in 1MDB funds had been channelled into Najib’s personal account.

'Clarification' letter rapped

Dow Jones was given 14 days to respond to the letter.

Najib has said that he did not take public funds for  personal use , but fell short of issuing an outright denial of the allegation while both the WSJ and Dow Jones have stood by  the story.

The letter from Najib’s lawyers demanding clarification from Dow Jones has previously been  criticised  by several other lawyers.

This is because defamation suits are normally initiated by a letter of demand that, among others, would state which part of an offending article is defamatory and the loss of reputation suffered, instead of a letter asking for mere clarification.

"We are instructed by our client to seek confirmation as to whether it is your position, as taken in the articles, that our client misappropriated nearly US$700 million from 1MDB?

"We are instructed to procure your position because the articles collectively suggest that you are unsure of the 'original source of the money and what happened to the money' whilst on the other hand, the general gist of the articles create a clear impression that our client has misappropriated US$700 million belonging to 1MDB," the letter send to Dow Jones states.

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