Dr M files RM150mil libel suit against Anwar

Dr Mahathir Mohamad says Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s allegations have eroded his status as a statesman and former PM.

(FMT) – Dr Mahathir Mohamad has filed a RM150 million libel suit against Anwar Ibrahim alleging that the prime minister had accused him of enriching himself and his family members, as well as of being a racist.

The 97-year-old former prime minister is seeking RM50 million in general damages and another RM100 million in exemplary damages.

Mahathir alleged that the statements were made by Anwar in his capacity as the prime minister and, as such, had a far more devastating effect on him compared with similar statements made by ordinary citizens.

He said the allegations eroded his status as a statesman and former prime minister.

He wants Anwar to retract all defamatory statements made against him and published both on mainstream and social media.

Mahathir said Anwar’s defamatory statements were intended to dent his image among members of the public as they were viewed and heard by a wide spectrum of people.

Mahathir also wants Anwar to extend an unconditional apology and undertake not to repeat the same or similar statements in the future.

The suit was filed on Wednesday by Mahathir’s lawyer Rafique Rashid Ali together with a certificate of urgency asking that it be heard and disposed of expeditiously.

Mahathir said the subject matter is one of public interest as six states are expected to conduct their elections soon.

Rafique said the cause papers were served on Anwar’s solicitors, Thomas Philip, on the day it was filed.

The case management will be held on May 31.

During the PKR Congress on March 18, Anwar, without mentioning Mahathir by name, had alluded to the time when a former boss of his led the government.

Mahathir was prime minister for 22 years between 1981 and 2003 and again led the government for 22 months from May 2018 until February 2020.

Anwar was in Mahathir’s Cabinet from 1983 until his sacking from both Umno and the government in 1998.

Mahathir said that he championed the cause of the Malays and other races via opinions featured in a newspaper before Merdeka, and that he continued to do so when in power.

“The defendant’s (Anwar) claims that the plaintiff (Mahathir) only raised issues affecting the people after losing power is untrue,” read the statement of claim sighted by FMT.

Mahathir said Anwar’s insinuation that he had grabbed assets for himself and members of his family meant that he had denied the Malays their dues.

“The plaintiff’s children succeeded in business without help of the plaintiff while in power,” the statement of claim said.

Mahathir also dismissed an assertion that he was planning to disrupt public order and bring down the present government by assembling a group of individuals to assume positions of power and influence.

“The defendant has made his statements with malicious intent to let the public believe that the plaintiff is disturbing racial harmony,” it said.

He said Anwar had also labelled him a “racist”, which was an irresponsible statement by the incumbent prime minister.

“The word ‘scoundrel’ from the defendant’s speech paints the image of the plaintiff in a negative light,” the document said.

Mahathir said Anwar had also inferred that he had abused his power. As a result, Mahathir said he is now worried that he will be investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and prosecuted.

He also denied Anwar’s claim that he had amassed billions of ringgit, did not pay tax and had transferred money abroad.

“These are all hearsay statements derived from the local and foreign media.”

Mahathir said he sustained himself from his salary and allowances as minister and prime minister.