Najib sues Pua and news portal owner over 1MDB remarks

File photo: A man walks past a 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the funds flagship Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, March 1, 2015. 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), a property-to-energy fund whose advisory board is chaired by Prime Minister Najib Razak, has built debt of nearly 42 billion ringgit ($11.73 billion) to build a portfolio of power plants.

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak is suing Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua and the owner of an online news portal for allegedly defaming him over the government-owned strategic fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The Prime Minister said Pua, 42, had slandered him over the 1MDB at a DAP fundraising dinner on Nov 3 last year.

He said the video of the speech was uploaded by online news portal owner Chan Chee Kong, 51, or his agents onto the Media Rakyat webpage, YouTube and shared on its Facebook page.

Pua, who is also DAP national publicity secretary, also re-published it on his own Facebook page, Najib said, adding that the scandalous nature of the publication caused serious damage to his reputation and affected his relationship with the general public and others internationally.

Chan, who is the sole proprietor of MR Multimedia, failed to exercise responsible journalism when he did not take steps to verify the truth of the allegations before publishing the speech, said Najib. The Umno president sued the two in his personal capacity.

The words, he said, implied that he had robbed the people's funds and betrayed Malaysians.

They also implied that he had abused his power as chairman of the board of advisers of 1MDB for his personal gain, is not trustworthy and unfit to hold public office.

The damage to his reputation, he said, would continue as the publication of those words was accessible worldwide via the Internet and could be shared via blogs, forums and websites without any limitation.

He sent a letter of demand, dated Nov 21 last year, to the plaintiffs' solicitor for an apology, a retraction and to stop them from making any further defamatory statements of him. However, he said, they did not accede to his demand.

The suit was filed at the High Court civil registry through the law firm of Messrs Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak on Thursday.

In the statement of claim, Najib is seeking for damages for slander and libel and an injunction to restrain the defendants from publishing any defamatory statements against him.

Najib is asking for both parties to publish a written apology in national newspapers and magazines and to remove the recording from webpages and Facebook.