KUALA LUMPUR: The Sultanah of Terengganu has filed an application at the High Court for her defamation suit against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle Brown and two others to be decided purely on points of law – without going for a full trial.
The suit filed by Sultanah Nur Zahirah against Rewcastle Brown involved alleged defamation relating to the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) in a book titled The Sarawak Report – The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose.
Lawyer Datuk Mohd Haziq Pillay Abdullah, who represented Sultanah Nur Zahirah, told the press reporters that they filed the application on May 13 for the suit to be summarily disposed of according to
Order 14A of the Rules of Court 2012, without going for a full trial.
The case was brought up for case management in the chambers of High Court judge Justice Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim here on Monday (May 27).
Haziq said the judge has the discretion under the law of defamation to decide whether Rewcastle Brown's statement in the book was indeed defamatory.
The book was published by publisher Gerakbudaya Enterprise Sdn Bhd (second defendant) and printing company Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd (third defendant).
"If the application is allowed, this means Her Royal Highness would not be required to give evidence, therefore the onus (burden of proof) now falls on the defendants as to whether they can come out with their own defences, and whether the defences allowed under the Defamation Act would be admissible or not," Mohd Haaziq explained.
He said the defendants had filed their reply to the application on May 24 while the plaintiff will now have to file the affidavit in reply by June 12.
The court also fixed June 17 for further case management.
On Nov 21, last year, Sultanah Nur Zahirah sued Rewcastle Brown, book publisher Gerakbudaya Enterprise and printer Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd for defaming her in a book on the 1MDB issue.
In her statement of claim, the Sultanah alleged that the defamatory statements implied that she, the plaintiff, was involved in corrupt practices and interfered in the administration of Terengganu as well as used her role to influence the setting up of TIA and assisted Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, to be the adviser of TIA.
Sultanah Nur Zahirah alleged that the statements were defamatory as she was neither involved in the administration of the state nor the setting up of TIA.
She claimed that the statements had caused her embarrassment and tarnished her reputation in the eyes of the public.
She said it was common knowledge that 1MDB was earlier known as TIA.
Sultanah Nur Zahirah is claiming RM100mil in damages from each of the defendants and wants the second defendant to withdraw the books containing the defamatory statements as well as stop the third defendant from printing more copies of the book.
In their statement of defence, the three defendants denied that they had accused Sultanah Nur Zahirah of having been involved in corrupt practices.
Whistleblower website Sarawak Report also clarified that it did not suggest she was linked to the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) or the 1MDB board in any way.