KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has obtained an injunction from the High Court against the owner of Agenda Daily Media Enterprise to remove the article that allegedly defamed him pending the outcome of a lawsuit on the matter.
Lawyer Joshua Tan, representing Ismail Sabri, said the inter-parte injunction order was for the portal owner to remove an article entitled "Ismail Sabri bimbang jadi PM paling singkat, 'rayu' jangan tarik sokongan” ("Ismail Sabri concerned about being PM with the shortest term, begs not to pull out support”).
He said Agenda Daily was also ordered not to make any statements that would allude to Ismail Sabri being desperate to remain as prime minister or that he "begged" or would beg political parties not to withdraw their support for him.
Tan told the press that Justice Nik Hasmat Nik Mohamad granted the injunction during proceedings conducted online here on Monday (July 25) with no order as to costs.
On Feb 18, Ismail Sabri obtained an interim ex-parte injunction against the 37-year-old owner of Agenda Daily, Muhamad Izwan Mohd Zubit, over the alleged defamatory article published by the news portal in January.
On Feb 17, Ismail Sabri, 60, applied for the injunction order in his defamation suit, which was filed in his personal capacity, against Muhamad Izwan at the High Court.
In his statement of claim, Ismail Sabri said that on Jan 30, Agenda Daily had published the article on its website which contained various ill-intentioned, defamatory and untrue statements.
He said the article was re-posted on a website known as "The MalaysianLife”, which is an online news portal that could be accessed by the public.
The plaintiff said that the article, among others, implied that he was desperate to continue being the prime minister in whatever way, and was even willing to beg certain political parties not to withdraw their support for him; besides inferring that he was concerned about becoming the prime minister with the shortest tenure in Malaysian history.
"The article also implied that I was not loyal to Umno, and was only interested to continue being prime minister regardless of Umno’s interests and more concerned about my position as prime minister and not the country’s interests,” Ismail Sabri said.
He claimed his reputation as an Umno member and as prime minister had been tarnished as a result of the publication of the article.
"The publication also caused me emotional turmoil and the defamatory statements contained in the article can also have a negative effect on my political career,” he said.
He is also seeking an apology from the defendant in a form to be decided by the plaintiff that will be published on the Agenda Daily website and in 21 local newspapers within seven days of the judgment date.
The Bera MP also sought general, additional and exemplary damages which will be assessed later by the court, interest of 5% from the date of judgment until full settlement, as well as costs and relief deemed appropriate by the court.
In his statement of defence, Muhamad Izwan said he and his company had practised responsible journalism in the publication of the article.
He denied that the article contained defamatory and malicious statements toward the plaintiff.
He also claimed that the words used in the article neither have negative connotations in politics nor are they insulting; and instead, the words reflect a politician's humility in asking for support.
"The article was a fair and justified commentary and political analysis. If the plaintiff did not agree with the comments and analysis, at any time, the plaintiff as prime minister and prominent politician, always has the space and opportunity to answer and refute it," he said.