KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has succeeded in his bid to remove an affidavit by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to strike out his libel suit against an MCA veteran leader on grounds that it was hearsay.
On Monday, High Court judge Justice Nor Bee Ariffin granted Najib's application to expunge Dr Mahathir's affidavit with RM5,000 in costs.
Najib has sued Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik over his remarks, which allegedly implied that he had misused public fund for his personal interests.
Speaking to reporters here after the decision was delivered in chambers, Najib's lead counsel Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun said Justice Nor Bee held that the affidavit was hearsay and it could not be admitted and regarded in the striking out application by Dr Ling.
"Dr Mahathir's affidavit is highly contentious. The judge said he (Dr Mahathir) must state the sources of information, grounds and if he has personal knowledge or not on this," Mohd Hafarizam said.
Dr Mahathir had affirmed an affidavit on Feb 15 to support Dr Ling's bid to strike out the libel suit filed by the Prime Minister against the MCA leader.
Mohd Hafarizam said that the judge held that affidavit evidence should adhere to the requirements of Order 41 (Rule 5) of the Rules of Court 2012 where the person must state on the sources, grounds and personal knowledge.
He said that Dr Ling's bid to strike out the libel suit would be heard on Aug 24.
Najib's application to strike out Dr Ling's statement of defence would be heard same day, he added.
Dr Ling's lawyer, Yeoh Cho Kheong who confirmed the ruling, said he would seek instructions from his client if he wants to appeal over the matter.
Yeoh said they maintained their stand that that the affidavit was relevant and necessary to merely confirm that Dr Mahathir had made various statements including asking for Najib's resignation but the former prime minister was not sued for defamation.
"We have to respect the court's decision but we will appeal if Dr Ling wants to do so," added Yeoh.
In his lawsuit, Najib said that an online news portal had on Oct 3 last year published an article saying Dr Ling had made slanderous statements against him while attending a ceremony at Tunku Abdul Rahman University College.
In his statement of claim filed on Oct 27 last year, Najib is seeking damages and an injunction to restrain Dr Ling from further speaking or publishing any similar defamatory words against him.
In the statement of defence filed on Dec 14 last year, Dr Ling said the libel suit was brought in bad faith, maliciously and with ulterior motive.