Lawyer: Applying pressure on Ambiga is interfering with a witness

(FMT) – Sarawak Report editor’s reliance on information sourced from Ambiga is deemed a fact until proven otherwise in court, says R Kengadharan.

Any attempt to extract an apology from Ambiga Sreenevasan following disclosure in court documents that she was the source of information that PAS leaders received money from Prime Minister Najib Razak is tantamount to interfering with a witness, a lawyer said.

R Kengadharan said Ambiga’s alleged role, as stated in the documents filed by Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, is deemed to be a fact until proven otherwise in court.

“Clare, as party to the suit, has to prove that during trial. Until then, no one can pressure Ambiga to apologise as it is grossly unfair and politically unethical.”

Kengadharan said Ambiga, who is former Bersih chairman, is a potential witness in the suit that would be heard in a London court later.

He said one could demand an apology or retraction if she had made such a statement at a public meeting.

“Such a demand is made with the intention to file a lawsuit if the maker of the statement is adamant. In this case, the statement is found in a court document,” he said.

Kengadharan said this in response to PAS vice-president Idris Ahmad’s reaction that Ambiga could not remain silent since she had a reputation as an activist who fought for integrity.

The Bukit Gantang MP wanted her to apologise for implicating leaders from the Islamist party.

Clare, who filed her defence and counter-claim to a suit in response to PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s defamation suit, claimed she and Ambiga spoke about Najib, 1MDB and PAS in July 2016.

“Ambiga had told the defendant that her sources, whom she said were reliable, had estimated the amount that had been paid was around RM90 million,” said Clare in her affidavit dated Oct 11.

Hadi claimed he had been defamed in a Sarawak Report article that money was given to woo PAS to support Barisan Nasional. It was published on Aug 6 last year.

She has also listed at least 10 PAS officials from its ulama wing who were alleged to have received the money sourced from 1MDB.

Meanwhile, PAS ulama wing information chief Khairuddin Aman Razali said Ambiga needed to reveal her source since it touched on her credibility.

Khairuddin, who is Kuala Nerus MP, has rubbished what was published in the media and described it as the work of unethical journalists.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan has also joined in the fray and has challenged Ambiga to reveal her sources on the allegation concerning 1MDB funds and PAS.

Ambiga has declined to comment as the suit is pending in court.

Kengadharan said Ambiga was entitled to witness protection and Clare could obtain an order to stop anyone from harassing or intimidating her (Ambiga).

“What is happening now here is shameful and deplorable,” said the lawyer.