Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak wants to know if former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad will now stop his tirade against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak after his lawyers filed a misfeasance suit against Najib yesterday.
"The more important question is, will Mahathir now have to stop talking since this case is now in court and if he continues to talk about the case, what would happen?" he asked in a blog post last night.
Although he did not say it, he may be hinting that Mahathir's criticism will be sub judice now that the issue is part of a court case.
The government has used sub judice as a reason to disallow parliamentary questions on the RM2.6 billion donation scandal prior to this.
Salleh also asked if Mahathir will respect the court's decision if it were to rule against him.
"And what happens if the court rules against Mahathir? Would he accept that decision as final and lay this matter to rest?" he asked.
Yesterday, lawyers representing Mahathir and two others filed a suit against Najib for alleged ‘tort of misfeasance in public office’ and ‘tort of breach of fiduciaries in public office’.
‘Misfeasance’, wrote Salleh in his post, means an act that is legal but is performed improperly and describes a situation where an act by the defendant (in this case Najib), though legal, causes harm to the plaintiff (in this case Mahathir).
He added that ‘fiduciary’, on the other hand, is a person who holds a legal or ethical relationship of trust with another party or parties. In such a relationship, the fiduciary is required to act at all times for the sole benefit and in the interest of the one rendering that trust.
"This is no doubt a very interesting case because now the onus is on Mahathir to prove guilt and no longer on Najib to prove his innocence," noted Salleh.
He added that Mahathir will also have to convince the court that he has locus standi (which I am sure his lawyer would have looked into) and in what way he has suffered personal loss, injury or harm.
Salleh pointed out that such complicated cases do not have a history of quick conclusions citing 1999, when former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim sued Mahathir for RM100 million and English daily The Sun for RM100 million as well.
In 2008, he said, Anwar sued the current Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin for RM100 million. In 2012, Anwar sued S Nallakaruppan for RM100 million and in 2015 he sued English newspaper New Straits Times and three others for RM70 million.
All these cases, he said, went nowhere or are still hanging in the legal system limbo.
"So, it is yet to be seen how long Mahathir’s suit is going to get locked up in court and what the outcome is going to be in the end," he said.