KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim regarded as "totally absurd” the term "zalim” (cruel) used by Pendang MP Datuk Awang Solahuddin Hashim in describing him and comparing him to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The Pakatan Harapan chairman claimed that the action by Awang Solahuddin was driven by malice and that all references to Dr Mahathir were totally irrelevant and should not have been made.
"In doing so, the defendant has raised aggravating circumstances in this suit against me and I shall be entitled to substantial aggravated damages," said Anwar in his reply to the defence statement that was filed on Tuesday (May 30).
According to the Finance MInister, the comparison made by the defendant was untenable.
Anwar also insisted that the investigation and prosecution by the enforcement agency were fair, independent and impartial without fear or favouritism and that he had never interfered in the matter.
Awang Solahuddin, in his defence statement filed on April 4 this year, claimed that Anwar, when he was brought to court to face charges of power abuse in 1998, initiated the movement which labelled Dr Mahathir as "zalim”.
The PAS MP compared the controversial "Operasi Lalang” that was carried out by Dr Mahahthir’s government and the prosecution of politicians by Anwar when he was appointed prime minister.
Awang Solahuddfin claimed that the controversial action taken by Dr Mahathir was six years after he was appointed as Prime Minister, while the prosecution against Anwar’s political enemies was made within three months of his (Anwar) appointment as Prime Minister.
"This comparison that I refer to is in terms of the length of time the prosecution was made against the political opponents from the date of appointment, which is 'worse' or 'worst' in the history of Malaysia, surpassing Dr Mahathir.
"I do not mean to compare the plaintiff with Dr Mahathir from other aspects that are not related to the political prosecution that I am talking about in my statement (in the Parliament lobby), " he said in his defence statement.
Anwar, 75, filed the suit against Awang Solahuddin on March 3 over the latter’s defamatory remarks about the prime minister at the parliament lobby.
He claimed Awang Solahuddin uttered defamatory remarks against him at a press conference at the parliament lobby when attending a Dewan Rakyat sitting last Feb 21.
According to Anwar, the remarks, which were recorded in audio and video formats, had been made public.
Anwar said the remarks implied that he is a vindictive and vengeful perdson, and had abused his power as prime minister and finance minister by interfering, disrupting and arbitrarily instructing Malaysian law enforcers and prosecutors to fuel his own political agenda.
He claimed Awang Solahuddin had deliberately and maliciously uttered and published the defamatory remarks to incite the public and create personal hatred against him
Meanwhile, Anwar’s lawyer, Datuk S. N. Nair, told reporters that Deputy Registrar Aisyaf Falina Abdullah, during an e-Review proceeding, set June 15 for further case management.
"The court also instructs parties involved to file an interlocutory application if any, by June 15 at the latest," he added.- Bernama