Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Will Mahathir now stop talking since his case has gone to court? 

Salleh Said Keruak

Today, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and two others filed a suit against Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for alleged ‘tort of misfeasance in public office’ and ‘tort of breach of fiduciaries in public office’, according to what their lawyer said.

‘Misfeasance’ means an act that is legal but is performed improperly and describes a situation where an act by the defendant (in this case Najib), though legal, causes harm to the plaintiff (in this case Mahathir).

A ‘fiduciary’, on the other hand, is a person who holds a legal or ethical relationship of trust with another party or parties. In such a relationship the fiduciary is required to act at all times for the sole benefit and in the interest of the one rendering that trust.

In 1999, Anwar Ibrahim sued Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for RM100 million. That same year he also sued The Sun for RM100 million as well. In 2008, Anwar sued Khairy Jamaluddin for RM100 million. In 2012, Anwar sued Nallakaruppan for RM100 million and in 2015 he sued NST and three others for RM70 million.

These are but just a few of a long list of civil suits that eventually all went nowhere -- except for the Khalid Jafri Bakar Shah suit where Anwar was awarded only RM4.5 million nine years later and, even then, after the defendant had died. So, it is yet to be seen how long Mahathir’s suit is going to get locked up in court and what the outcome is going to be in the end.

This is no doubt a very interesting case because now the onus is on Mahathir to prove guilt and no longer on Najib to prove his innocence. Mahathir will also have to convince the court that he has locus standi (which I am sure his lawyer would have looked into) and in what way he has suffered personal loss, injury or harm.

The more important question is will Mahathir now have to stop talking since this case is now in court and if he continues to talk about the case what would happen? And what happens if the court rules against Mahathir? Would he accept that decision as final and lay this matter to rest? 

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