Azmin: I was merely questioning why Deepak was on the plane

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 a current minister on a plane.

Mohamed Azmin, who was testifying at the High Court 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 Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu on a flight to India.

He said the photo surfaced online after Mohamad answered questions in Parliament over 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, Gombak on March 11, last year, and 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.”

When the lawyer asked if Mohamed Azmin had wanted to link Deepak to the egg import contract, Mohamed Azmin said he had only wanted an explanation over 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 Tech) 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 Mohamed 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 the lawsuit against Mohamed Azmin for alleging that the company obtained a contract through direct negotiation with the government to import eggs from India.

The plaintiff is seeking an injunction against the defendant to stop him, or any of his agents or workers from speaking or publishing any 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.

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