I have no involvement in setting up TIA, says Sultanah Nur Zahirah

KUALA LUMPUR: Sultanah of Terengganu Sultanah Nur Zahirah told the High Court here on Monday (Aug 1) that she has never interfered in the administration of the state government and did not even know about the setting up of the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) or the entity known as 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Sultanah Nur Zahirah, who testified via video conferencing in her defamation suit against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown and others on Monday, stressed that the allegation made by Rewcastle-Brown in the book titled ‘The Sarawak Report-The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose’ described her as an influential person who has the power to influence the Terengganu state government.

"The allegation, which is the main cause, mentioned (in the book) is ‘the wife of the Sultan’, which is me...and I stress here that I did not know about TIA, about 1MDB, about the setting up or anything.

"This is because I have never interfered in the state government’s affairs. Never!” she said during cross-examination by lawyer Americk Sidhu who represented Rewcastle-Brown, publisher Gerakbudaya Enterprise Chong Ton Sin and printer Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd as the defendants.

However, Sultanah Nur Zahirah was overcome with emotion when asked about her reputation which was allegedly tarnished due to the publication of the book.

"The book was written in 2018 and at that time, Jho Low was categorised as a person wanted by the police and most importantly, I have never interfered in the Terengganu government affairs. Never! My duty is as the wife to my husband, the Sultan of Terengganu.

"Apart from the official duties, I am a housewife. I take care of my children. Anybody in my situation will feel what I feel when all of a sudden, my name is mentioned in this fully controversial book. At that time, no one wanted to be linked to Jho Low after what he did to this country,” she said.

Earlier, Sultanah Nur Zahirah said she also did not know why Rewcastle-Brown had to link her with Jho Low.

"I was surprised too. I don’t even know her (Rewcastle-Brown), so why must she has to write 'the wife of the Sultan' in the book? I am not a politician. Is she trying to sell the book by disparaging others?” she said, adding that she did not accept the author’s apology as it was not sincerely offered.

Sultanah Nur Zahirah said she filed the suit because Rewcastle-Brown had defamed her in the book.

"This is neither a novel nor a fiction book. This book should tell a real story...about corruption in Malaysia. I take it as defamation against me because I did not know her. She is a famous author, but she wrote ‘the wife of the Sultan'. It is wrong,” she said.

Sultanah Nur Zahirah also disagreed with the lawyer’s suggestion that her reputation was intact as correction had been made in the second edition of the book printed in September 2018, replacing the words ‘the wife of the Sultan’ with ‘the sister of the Sultan' (Tengku Datuk Rahimah).

"The first edition of the book, which carries the words ‘the wife of the sultan’ has been sold around the world. She (Rewcastle-Brown) didn’t apologise sincerely and publicly.

"...she just printed the second edition and changed it to ‘the sister of the Sultan’ without even feeling guilty,” she chided.

Sultanah Nur Zahirah filed the suit on Nov 21, 2018, claiming that the said statement, among others, meant that she was involved in corruption and interfering in the administration of the Terengganu government, besides using her status to influence the establishment of TIA, later known as 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Sultanah Nur Zahirah contended that the statement meant that she had helped fugitive businessman Jho Low or Low Taek Jho to become a TIA adviser.

The Sultanah is claiming general damages of RM100mil from each defendant and is also seeking an order for the publisher to withdraw the book containing the defamatory statement and for the printer to stop printing the book.

The hearing before Judicial Commissioner Dr John Lee Kien How @ Mohd Johan Lee continues on Thursday (Aug 4).- Bernama

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