Sultanah of Terengganu pursues legal action against Sarawak Report editor (Updated)

29 Sep 2018 / 15:45 H.

PETALING JAYA: The Sultanah of Terengganu is taking legal action against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, Gerakbudaya publishing and Coon press Sdn Bhd to the tune of RM300 million for allegations in the book "The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose" which links the Sultanah to Jho Low and the 1MDB scandal.
Her lawyer Mohd Haaziq Pillay Abdullah said all the money won in this case will be donated to charitable organisations.
The three involved parties have until next Friday to issue a letter of apology after letters of demand were served last Thursday.
The Sultanah is seeking damages of RM100 million from each party if they do not issue a written apology, unequivocally make a public retraction and an agreement not to repeat those statements again.
On Thursday, Rewcastle-Brown had issued somewhat of an apology to the Sultanah.
They apologised for any "misinterpretations" in the book.
Sarawak Report clarified that the passage in the book, "The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose", did not in any way suggest that the Sultanah was "in a conspiracy" with fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) or "involved in government administration in the 1MDB affair".
Neither does it suggest that the Sultanah was in any way personally connected with the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) (of which her husband was chairman of the advisory board) let alone 1MDB, it said.
"The book does relay information that Jho Low boasted of mixing socially with the royal family and herself and, as with many of his business ventures, cited his social connections as opening doors to opportunities, such as his obtaining an advisory position on the TIA.
"We note that the connection between Jho Low and the Terengganu royal family was in fact far closer to the sister of the Sultan, with whom Jho Low was directly connected in a business sense, and her husband, and on this basis later print runs of the book have removed the reference to the wife of the sultan and instead refer to the sister of the sultan as being Jho Low's prime social connection in Terengganu.
"However, in neither case does the book suggest impropriety on the part of such contacts of Jho Low's and nor do we suggest that Jho Low's engagement as an adviser of the fund was in itself a corrupt act. What was corrupt was the later theft of money from 1MDB, which was after the fund had been transferred from the purview of Terengganu altogether and had evolved into 1MDB," Sarawak Report said.
"The apology, in our view, is not an apology. It cannot be an apology. It's simple. The arrow has left the bow," said Haaziq.
"It is not an unequivocal apology. If you look at it, it's a bit qualified – that if you feel hurt or if you misinterpreted it, I'm sorry. That is not how defamation law works," he said.
Haaziq said that the Sultanah felt upset and "extremely sad" when she found out about the offending passages in the book and had immediately asked for a police report to be lodged.
"These were malicious statements that were not verified," Haaziq added.
He added that if they comply to the demands and apologise then no legal action will be taken.

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