UMNO issues letter of demand to Mkini, Astro Awani over “defamatory” reports

(Focus Malaysia) – LAWYERS for UMNO have issued a letter of demand to two media outlets over alleged defamatory reports on the party’s internal affairs.

UMNO Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said a letter of demand was issued to Malaysiakini and Astro Awani demanding a retraction, written apology and compensation of RM25 mil in damages from each media organisation for “defamatory” statements published on their portals.

“If there are any more quarters slandering UMNO in any form of report, commentary or fake news, UMNO Youth and I will not hesitate to take similar action,” he wrote in a Facebook post last night (Aug 30).

“It is time for us to act more aggressively through the legal channel as UMNO has long been a ‘gentleman’, allowing lies to spread to the point of creating negative perceptions that harm both the party and its supporters.”

On Aug 26, Asyraf had threatened legal action against both news portals pertaining to their reports over the chain of events that occurred during recent party meetings, which purportedly revolved around former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s imprisonment.

The Malaysiakini article in question had claimed that UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had demanded for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to call for a general election immediately or be sacked from the party.

The report claimed that the prime minister was issued the ultimatum during UMNO’s political bureau meeting last Wednesday (Aug 24).

Meanwhile, Astro Awani had reported that a majority of UMNO division leaders were against a proposal for Ismail Sabri – who is also a party vice-president – to intervene in Najib’s SRC International appeal.

Both articles had quoted unnamed sources.

The notice of demand issued by law firm Shahrul Hamidi & Haziq further demanded that apart from the RM25 mil in compensation for severe damages caused by the articles, the two publications must reveal the inside source and informer who had supposedly issued the “unfounded allegations” against UMNO.

The media agencies were also told to remove the relevant articles from their websites immediately, and to cease and desist from making, publishing and issuing further defamatory statements.

UMNO also demanded an unconditional apology in writing and a retraction of their statements, as well as to publish their retractions and apologies in two national newspapers of its choice.

“Please take note that in the event that we do not receive any satisfactory response to the above, it shall be deemed that you do not deny or dispute our client’s (Umno’s) claims as set out in this notice, and notwithstanding that you intend to continue publication of the said defamatory statements,” the notice of demand read.

“In that case, we have our client’s strict instructions to commence legal proceedings against you without any reference being made to you, including applying for an injunction to restrain any such further publication.”

UMNO secretary-general Ahmad Maslan told FMT that both reports were fake and ill-intentioned. He also denied that party leaders had given Ismail Sabri an ultimatum, calling the report “slander of the highest order”.