KUALA LUMPUR - The opening round of the legal bout between Datuk Ibrahim Ali and Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai has begun on Boxing Day with the Perkasa chief formally filing the suit against The Star's group managing director and chief executive officer.
Ibrahim alleged that the article on his Bible-burning call, titled "A mind-boggling spin" and published in Wong's On the Beat blog on Nov 2, had defamed him by stating that he should be charged under the Sedition Act.
The article by Wong was later published in The Star daily and on its online portal, The Star Online.
Wong said he welcomed the suit, saying his lawyers had already started preparing his case.
"The support from many ordinary Malaysians who believe in moderation has been enormous. We have a strong case, righteousness with us and we will let the court decide," he said.
In January last year, Ibrahim had called for the burning of Bibles, following reports that individuals had distributed Malay-language Bibles containing the word "Allah" to students, including Malays, at SMK Jelutong in Penang.
On Oct 27, the Attorney-General's Chambers confirmed that no legal action would be taken against Ibrahim because his statement was meant to "defend the sanctity of Islam" and had no intention to create religious disharmony.
In Ibrahim's statement of claim, he said Wong's article had implied that he (Ibrahim) was a religious extremist, ridiculed Christianity, was a fool to make such statements, and intended to create enmity between races and religions.
Ibrahim claims he was not contacted for verification and that Wong's statements were entirely untrue, and had caused serious injury to his reputation.
He stated that the article had a wide reach as The Star daily is one of the highest circulated newspapers while The Star Online had a readership of over 1.07 million viewers a month.
Ibrahim filed the lawsuit at the Shah Alam High Court registry through his lawyer Adnan Seman, naming Wong and Star Publications (M) Bhd as defendants.
Ibrahim is seeking general, aggravated and exemplary damages, plus costs.
He is also seeking an injunction to prohibit the defendants from publishing any further articles which could defame him.
Speaking to reporters later, Ibrahim said he was also planning to file suits against Tan Sri Joseph Kurup and Datuk Noor Faridah Ariffin for speaking out against Perkasa.