The Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) is counter-suing a couple for defamation over an incident in which the council was accused of abusing a stray dog.
In the counterclaim, dated Jan 30, the council and two of its officers accused Koh Tat Meng and Diong Mei Li of uttering defamatory remarks and making false accusations against them during the incident last year.
On Oct 3 last year, Koh had confronted MPSJ dogcatchers over the rough handling of a stray dog before he was seen getting into an altercation with the officers.
A video of the incident was recorded by his wife Diong and circulated widely on social media.
During the confrontation, Koh had cited the Prophet Muhammad in urging the dogcatchers to show compassion.
The counterclaim, however, said such remarks were slanderous as they "mockingly" meant the dogcatchers were abusive and harmful to the stray dog and "were not following the Prophet Muhammad's teachings" despite being Muslim.
The suit further said that Diong had slandered the dogcatchers of abusing their powers while falsely claiming that the dog was theirs and had not attacked anyone.
This they said despite there being complaints by residents in Taman Puchong Perdana that the dog had been disturbing them and that the dog had bitten one of the officers during an attempt to catch it.
The suit contends that the dogcatchers had followed procedures, and as Muslims, were not cruel to the dog or did anything that was forbidden by Islam.
MPSJ wants the court to impose an injunction on the couple from repeating such slander.
They also want the couple to publish an open apology in a newspaper as well as pay for costs and damages as deemed fit by the court.
In a statement, the couple's lawyer N Rajesh expressed shock over the defamation suit and said the taxpayers should hold MPSJ accountable for using public funds to launch such legal action.
He added this raised the question on whether public bodies can sue members of the public for defamation.
Previously, in 2018, the Federal Court ruled that the federal and state governments could sue for defamation.
The defamation suit is a counterclaim to a lawsuit filed by Koh against MPSJ for RM50,000 in damages after the council failed to meet him and give him an explanation over the incident.
Koh had also claimed trial last year to a charge of obstructing public officers for carrying out their duties.
Koh had previously defended his citing of the Prophet Muhamad.
“The officials are Muslim, and from my Muslim friends, I have learned that the Prophet Muhammad loved all animals and showed them compassion.
“I tried to remind them of this, and I did not insult the Prophet whatsoever, as you can hear in the video,” he said.
The Tengku Permaisuri of Selangor, Tengku Permaisuri Norashikin, had also spoken out against the rough handling of the stray dog in the incident.