KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has filed a defamation suit against Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for remarks that allegedly questioned the former premier's ancestry.
The suit, filed on July 20, is over Umno president Ahmad Zahid's "kutty" remarks allegedly made at a party divisional meeting in July 2017, and again in July last year.
According to The Edge, in his defence filed on Wednesday (Aug 17), Ahmad Zahid denied making such a statement in July 2017.
He maintained that what he said was that “Mahathir anak lelaki Iskandar Kutty” is an individual, based on information he obtained from an old identity card.
“The plaintiff (Dr Mahathir) is free to pursue any grievance that he has,” Ahmad Zahid said, adding that his 2017 remark did not specifically refer to Dr Mahathir but merely concerned a name on an identity card.
In his statement of claim, Dr Mahathir alleged that Ahmad Zahid's statement was done with malice, was defamatory, and made with the intention of having the people hate him.
Dr Mahathir said his late father Mohamad Iskandar was a Malay from Penang but whose ancestors came from Kerala, India; and his mother Wan Tempawan Wan Hanapi was a Malay from Kedah.
He further said Ahmad Zahid's statement in its natural and ordinary meaning meant that: Dr Mahathir was not born a Malay and that his original name was "Mahathir a/l (son of) Iskandar Kutty"; that he had used the Malays when he was prime minister for political and personal gain; that he was ashamed his ancestors have Indian blood; and that he had a skewed view of the Indian community.
The 97-year-old veteran leader reiterated that Ahmad Zahid's intention was to disparage his reputation and resulted in personal attacks against him.
He added that his lawyers had issued a notice of demand against Ahmad Zahid in June but in his reply, the former deputy prime minister rejected the notice outright, citing justification and fair comment.
Dr Mahathir is seeking general, exemplary and aggravated damages from Ahmad Zahid and an injunction barring him or his agents from repeating or making such claims.
On April 20, Ahmad Zahid filed a defamation suit in Kuala Lumpur against Dr Mahathir over allegations that he tried to influence the latter to interfere in his ongoing court proceedings.
In his statement of claim, Ahmad Zahid said Dr Mahathir, who is the Pejuang chairman, had issued defamatory statements with malicious intent against him at a Pejuang event at Yayasan Kepimpinan Perdana, Putrajaya, on Feb 23.
A video recording of the statement was posted on the same day on a news channel's social media account which had 1.4 million subscribers, he said.
He also said that on the day the writ of summons and statement of claim were filed, the video had received a total of 23,443 views.
He claimed the video recording was also widely reported through various other platforms.
Ahmad Zahid said the statements had tarnished and damaged his reputation and name, as well as his credibility as Umno president and Barisan Nasional chairman.