Deepak's name was mentioned because of a picture, Azmin told court

KUALA LUMPUR: Former international trade and industry minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali told the High Court that he mentioned Deepak Jaikishan's name in his speech because of the businessman's photo with another minister on a plane.

Mohamed Azmin, who was testifying at the High Court on Friday (May 17) in a defamation lawsuit against him by egg importer company J&E Advance Tech Sdn Bhd (J&E), said that the photo was of Deepak together with the Agriculture and Food Security Minister, Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu, on a flight to India.

According to Mohamed Azmin, the photo surfaced online after Mohamad had answered questions in Parliament about a government permit to import eggs from India.

Mohamed Azmin admitted he mentioned Deepak's name in a speech, "Ceramah Perdana: Solidariti Menentang Kezaliman," at a hall in Taman Melewar here on March 11, last year. He said he did so because he was questioning why Deepak was with Mohamad on the plane.

During examination-in-chief by the plaintiff's lawyer, T. Gunaseelan, on Mohamed Azmin's intention of showing the photo, the defendant replied, "Because there was no denial from Deepak".

The lawyer asked if Mohamed Azmin had wanted to link Deepak to the egg import contract, and Mohamed Azmin said he only wanted an explanation about that matter.

Gunaseelan: Why did you mention Deepak?

Mohamed Azmin: I was questioning (the matter) after seeing him (in a photo) on a plane with the minister.

Gunaseelan: Are you still implying that the plaintiff (J&E Advance) obtained the importing permit illegally?

Mohamed Azmin: I have never made accusations against the company J&E, but the process of importing eggs from India was not transparent and open.

Gunaseelan: But you didn't have to mention the name Deepak or the plaintiff?

Mohamed Azmin: Incorrect. The issue was raised two days after the photo of the minister and Deepak came to light. What wrong did I do in raising that question?

Earlier this week, Deepak's younger brother Rajesh Jaikishan, who is J&E Advance Tech's general manager, testified that Azmin's claims were not true as there was no direct negotiation with the government to obtain the licence to import eggs.

On April 12, last year, J&E Advance Tech filed a lawsuit against Mohamed Azmin, alleging that the company obtained a contract through direct negotiation with the government to import eggs from India.

The company claimed that Azmin had defamed the company.

According to the company, even though its name was not mentioned in the speech, J&E Advance Tech was implied as it was the only Malaysian company allowed to import eggs from India, as announced by Mohamad Sabu during a Parliament session on March 8 last year.

It said Azmin's claims were untrue as the company had never been involved in and had no links to any direct government negotiations.

The plaintiff is seeking an injunction against the defendant to stop him or any of his agents or workers from speaking or publishing defamatory statements and to seek general damages, exemplary damages, interest, and other relief deemed appropriate by the court.

The hearing before Judicial Commissioner Leong Wai Hong resumes on July 25 for oral submissions.

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