The opposition leader trains his legal guns on the Umno-linked daily over a report that alleged he instructed a bank CEO to transfer millions into several accounts in 1999.
(FMT) - Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim plans to haul the Umno-owned New Straits Times to court over an article which alleged that he gave orders to a bank CEO to transfer millions into several accounts.
PKR vice-president N Surendran said he was currently drafting a letter of demand asking the English daily to withdraw the allegation, print a correction and apologise on its subsequent front page for the Tuesday article. He said the letter would be sent soon.
“Anwar is now taking legal action because of the front-page story ‘Anwar gave order’. It [the allegation made] is totally false. We want them to retract the article and apologise or see us in court,” Surendran told FMT, when asked about calls for Anwar to come clean.
The lawyer, who complained that NST was “becoming more like Utusan Malaysia”, said the article was “false, irresponsible and politically motivated”.
Surendran said Anwar was also demanding an undertaking from the NST not to publish any further such false allegations and would claim damages.
“The news report itself states that investigators found no evidence to support the allegation or bring the case to court, and the investigations were wrapped up as long ago as 2000. This proves that this allegation against Anwar was wild and baseless,” he said.
He said the article amounted to “character assassination and gutter journalism of the lowest and most disgraceful kind.”
Surendran blamed Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Umno for the frequent “malicious personal attacks” from state-owned newspapers, saying it was impossible that these were done without Najib’s approval.
“In public interest, we call upon Najib to cease further false and libellous personal attacks upon opposition leaders and instead fairly debate us on national policies and issues,” he said.
Asked about criticisms that Anwar had not properly tackled the issue with his own evidence, Surendran disagreed.
“He has already explained, it can’t be clearer than that. He was exonerated and even got an SD [statutory declaration] from an officer who cleared him. [Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) director of investigation Abdul Razak Idris signed his SD claiming Anwar’s innocence in November 2009].
“Most importantly, there is no evidence whatsoever that he committed such a wrongdoing. They cooked this up. In the headline of the article it seems he has already committed the act but in the body, in the third paragraph, it says there was no evidence. If anything is true, charge Anwar right now,” he said.