KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 ― Taking legal action to counter detractors is useless for a politician, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reportedly said today.
Remarking on current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's recent lawsuit threats against two opposition lawmakers, the octogenarian said that when he was in office, he never took the legal route but answered his critics directly.
"Back then I didn't go to court. I just answer (the critics)... However, as politicians, getting attacked, criticised and slandered by people is normal," Dr Mahathir was quoted by news portal Malaysiakini as telling reporters after gracing a Proton design event in the city.
"For me, there is no use in going to court but for the prime minister, it may be useful to him," he was quoted adding.
The country's fourth prime minister who served for 22 years from 1981 to 2003 was also reported saying Najib had the right to take legal action.
Najib, the country's sixth prime minister had issued legal notices to PKR's Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli this week and before that, DAP's Tony Pua, for making allegedly defamatory remarks against him.
Rafizi is accused of defaming the PM in his criticism of the government's fuel subsidy removal while Pua was accused of making defamatory remarks over the controversial 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) fund.
Rafizi was asked to retract his statement made in the video titled “Kenapa Kita Pertahan Subsidi Minyak” [translated: Why we are defending fuel subsidy], which was part of a speech made in a rally in Bandar Tun Razak.
The PKR secretary-general has said he will be replying the letter soon and is ready to appear in court over the matter.
On November 21, Najib ordered Pua, who is Petaling Jaya Utara MP, to retract allegedly defamatory statements on 1MDB or face legal action.
Najib’s letter of demand claimed that the Petaling Jaya Utara MP had defamed the prime minister with remarks made at a fundraising dinner on November 3, which were uploaded in a video titled “Tony Pua: Najib is creating the biggest scandal ever in the history of Malaysia”, by implying that Najib was an incompetent, corrupt and “tyrannical and oppressive autocratic”.
1MDB has been dogged by negative publicity over massive fees paid for bond sales, the near one-year delay in publishing its financial accounts, and most recently, changing auditors.
Putrajaya eliminated its decades-old subsidies for petrol and diesel this month, with price of both types of fuel now determined using a managed float.
Najib had also filed defamation suits against Malaysiakini on May 30 for publishing two articles on two articles over the brief leadership crisis in Terengganu last May, titled “A case of the PM reaping what he sows” and “How much will Najib spend to keep Terengganu?”
In his suit, he named Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, chief editor Steven Gan and chief news editor Fathi Aris Omar as the defendants.