Housing, Local Government and Urban Well-being minister Abdul Rahman has filed a defamation suit against Malaysiakini over a vox populi article entitled 'Minister's go-back-to kampung notion draws contempt' and an accompanying video carried by Kinitv.
Rahman, who is also an Umno supreme council member and Kota Belud MP, named the portal's owner Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd and journalist Geraldine Tong as defendants.
The suit was filed by law firm Raja Riza and Associates at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Jan 13.
The minister, who is also BN strategic director, claimed the Malaysiakini article and video - which carried short interviews with members of the public - was defamatory and false and that the video was referring to him specifically.
He alleged the article and video meant that he was not concerned over the rising cost of living and problems faced by the society and that he was not sensitive to the current situation faced by the people.
In his affidavit, he also claimed that they also meant that he was selfish and not concerned with society's well-being and that workers migrating to urban areas for jobs did not bring benefits.
Rahman further alleged that the defendants knew the publication of the article would affect his reputation and credibility and that the publication and video was edited to take his remarks out of context for the defendants' own interests.
The minister claimed this was done to seek publicity, sensationalise for the financial interests of the news portal.
'Reputation and credibility affected'
Rahman's affidavit said the publication of the article and video had affected his reputation and dignity, had his standing lowered in the eyes of the society besides exposing him to public odium and affecting his credibility.
He is thus seeking general, aggravated and exemplary damages and an apology for the publication of the article and video.
He is further seeking an injunction barring the defendants from publishing or reproducing the said article and video.
The Umno supreme council member had last month said he would sue Malaysiakini over the report.
Malaysiakini 's editor-in-chief Steven Gan described the lawsuit as yet another attempt to muzzle the media, adding that the news portal would fight it vigorously.
“I can’t see how getting public reaction to a statement made by a minister can be construed as defamatory. If that’s the case, the media will not be able to do its job in holding power to account,” he said.
"We have also given the minister the right of reply, but he did not take this opportunity to have his say in Malaysiakini ."
This is the second law suit filed by the government against Malaysiakini . In 2014, Prime Minister Najib Razak sued Malaysiakini over comments made by readers of the website.
Najib had claimed that compilation of readers' comments in two ‘Yoursay’ articles published on May 14, 2014, namely ‘A case of the PM reaping what he sows’ and ‘How much will Najib spend to keep Terengganu?’ were defamatory.
The suit has yet to be heard as Malaysiakini is seeking to change the judge following his transfer to the Seremban High Court.
Justice Kamaludin Mohd Said has said that he would continue hearing the case despite his transfer.