KUALA LUMPUR - The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article was not clear on whether it was accusing Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak of taking funds from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), said counsel Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun.
Mohd Hafarizam, whose law firm is acting for the Prime Minister, said the article was "neither here nor there".
"The article is not clear on whether it is alleging that the money is from 1MDB or not.
"Why we sent a letter of clarification is because we want the WSJ to tell us what its position is.
"Once that position has been taken, then it is easier for me to advise my client.
"Otherwise, I will be bordering on conjecture.
"I would have to assume that it meant 1MDB or assume that it did not mean 1MDB.
"It would be rather difficult for me to advise my client if I am not sure what their position is," he told reporters at the Jalan Duta court here yesterday.
Mohd Hafarizam, who was at the court for another case, said he had advised Najib that the WSJ article was unclear.
"And my client said, in view of that, can you write in and ask for a clarification?
"Yes, my law firm can say whether the article is defamatory or not but if I do wrongly give advice, then I am also subject to professional negligence.
"The first two paragraphs of the article seem to suggest that the money was from 1MDB but then, when you look further, it mentioned that the source is not known."
He said his firm would seek Najib's instructions once WSJ had stated its position on the matter.
"Only then, the letter of demand will be issued.
"And if they fail to apologise or retract, then we will see whether we need to file the writ action or not," he said.
On criticism about the letter of clarification, which was leaked on social media, Mohd Hafarizam said this had been done before.
"I remember that a very senior lawyer, S.N Nair, who used to act for (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim, once sent a letter of clarification as well - to ask the other side to take a position first before deciding on the next move," he said.
On July 8, Najib's lawyers had sent a letter of clarification to WSJ seeking an explanation over its July 3 article.
WSJ had published the article quoting an "unnamed investigator", claiming that almost US$700mil (S$939 million)) of 1MDB funds were channelled into Najib's personal accounts.
The Prime Minister's Office had responded by saying that the articles were "political sabotage" while 1MDB insisted that no funds had been transferred into Najib's accounts.