I can’t defame Zahid, he has a bad reputation, says Muhyiddin

Hebahkan !!!

Muhyiddin Yassin said Ahmad Zahid Hamidi could not claim that he had been defamed, as the Umno president already had a bad reputation to begin with.

This included Zahid breaking several promises, the former prime minister said, citing the time when the Bagan Datuk MP rescinded on his promise to back Muhyiddin and his then Perikatan Nasional government.

Muhyiddin said Zahid had written to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, claiming that a group of MPs from Umno supported Port Dickson MP Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister.

“The plaintiff (Zahid), despite his promises to support the defendant (Muhyiddin) as the prime minister, led the charge to withdraw his support for the defendant,” he said in his defence filed two days ago.

The Pagoh MP said Zahid actively worked to ensure that Bersatu menteris besar in Perak and Johor were undermined and removed despite his personal promises to him.

He said Zahid had been branded a liar by several people, including former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, for making false statements such as claiming the nonagenarian’s name was Mahathir a/l Iskandar Kutty.

Muhyiddin said Zahid had also falsely claimed, through his counsel to the High Court sometime in March 2020 during his ongoing criminal trial, that the Umno president was scheduled to have a meeting with him.

“It was only after the Prime Minister’s Office denied the alleged meeting that Zahid changed his story,” Muhyiddin said, adding that the prosecution had branded him a “liar” due to his conduct.

Muhyiddin said his successor, Ismail Sabri Yaakob from Umno/BN, had informed him that he was disagreeable to the dissolution of the Johor legislative assembly.

“The Johor menteri besar would not have initiated the dissolution without any direction or approval of the plaintiff, as the Umno president,” he said.

Muhyiddin admitted that he gave a speech in Tenggaroh, Mersing, but denied that it was false, defamatory in nature, or was given with malicious intent.

He said he did not have control over anything that was published by Astro Awani on its YouTube account nor did he publish them on these platforms.

Muhyiddin said Zahid’s statement of claim had insufficient particulars to sustain the suit and ought to be struck out.

“The defendant further states that the plaintiff is being placed in public scandal and hatred primarily due to the plaintiff’s own conduct and pre-existing bad reputation,” he added.

In the alternative, Muhyiddin said he was relying on the defence of justification, fair comment and qualified privilege to defeat Zahid’s suit.

In March, Zahid filed the suit against Muhyiddin for publishing alleged defamatory words on social media that the Umno president had sought his assistance to drop his corruption cases.

Zahid, who alleged that Muhyiddin had made the claim during the Johor election campaign, is asking for damages and other relief deemed fit by the court.

Zahid is standing trial on a total of 80 corruption charges here and in Shah Alam.

Last month, Zahid filed a similar suit against Mahathir after the two-time prime minister claimed that Zahid and several others had met him at his house in 2018 to have the charges dropped.

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