The articles were based on Raja Petra’s blog posts about the Altantuya murder.
Jahabar Sadiq, The Malaysian Insider
Prominent lawyer M. Puravalen wants an apology from the New Straits Times daily’s publisher, printer, editor and reporter within seven days for alleged defamation in two articles in the past week that covers blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin’s post about private detective P. Balasubramaniam’s evidence in a Mongolian interpreter’s killing five years ago.
The criminal defence lawyer sent two separate letters to The New Straits Times Press (M’sia) Bhd, the editor, and reporter Audrey Dermawan for the article, “Raja Petra’s exposé to be investigated”, which was published in the New Sunday Times on August 12, 2012 and another, “ Lawyer keeps mum over Suaram funding”, in the New Straits Times on August 14, 2012.
“The defamatory statements constitute a grave libel on our client and by reason of of the publication of the defamatory statements, our client has been brought into public scandal, odium, contempt and ridicule and has been injured his character, credit and reputation in his personal capacity and his professional capacity as an advocate and solicitor and has suffered damages,” said the two letters sent by Puravalen’s lawyers, Vazeer, Akbar Majid & Co.
The two letters, signed by the firm’s senior partner Stanley Sinappen, made five demands from the pro-government newspaper that is owned by Umno-linked media group Media Prima Bhd.
The demands are that the New Straits Times Press withdrew the defamatory statements, cease and desist from repeating the defamatory statements, publish an apology approved by Puravalen, ensure the apology is published in all mainstream newspapers, and pay aggravated and exemplary damages to Puravalen.
Both the letters were sent on Tuesday, August 14, after the two articles were published by the newspaper and its weekend edition.
In the first article, the New Sunday Times last Sunday reported on Raja Petra’s article and interviewed former Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim aide Anuar Shaari who asked Puravalen to clarify his role as written in the post about political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda’s arrest. The political analyst and two elite policemen Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar were initially charged with the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu in October 2006.
Abdul Razak’s defence was not called but Azilah and Sirul were asked to make their defence for murdering Altantuya, 28, at Mukim Raja between 9.45 pm on October 18, 2006 and 9.45 pm the following day. They were convicted and sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court in 2009 but both have appealed the sentence.
Puravalen’s lawyer said the contents of the first article were understood to refer to their client and meant that he “is an unprofessional and unethical lawyer”, “was engaged in unlawful, illegal, criminal and unprofessional and/or unethical conduct”, “has engaged in conduct unbecoming and unbefitting of an advocate and solicitor”, and “is not fit to be an advocate and solicitor”.
The second article, which was published in the New Straits Times last Tuesday, referred to human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia’s (Suaram) funding and Puravalen’s lack of response to questions posed by the newspaper.
His lawyer said the contents of the second article were understood to refer to their client and meant that he “is involved in or with the questionable affairs of Suaram”, “is involved in, or has knowledge of, the questionable funding of Suaram”, “is involved in, and/or is aware of, the alleged funding of P. Subramaniam who signed a Statutory Declaration dated July 1, 2008 regarding the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder” and “was involved in a conspiracy with others to slander the then Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak”.
The New Straits Times has yet to publicly respond to the letters from Puravalen’s lawyers,
Apart from the New Straits Times, pro-government newspapers such as Utusan Malaysia and the TV3 television station have also been sued for libel and defamation by politicians over some of their stories, especially since Election 2008 when the opposition Pakatan Rakyat won four states and denied the ruling Barisan Nasional its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority.