KUALA LUMPUR: The issue surrounding the approval of flood mitigation projects worth RM2 billion through direct negotiations during the caretaker government period was raised to seek clarification from the former environment and water minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, says PKR Deputy President Rafizi Ramli (pix).

He stressed that he also highlighted the issue to bring it to the public’s attention and encourage a healthy public discourse.

Based on the defence statement filed at the High Court here on Dec 28 last year, Rafizi claimed that the statements made during two press conferences at the PKR Headquarters in Petaling Jaya, Selangor on Nov 7 and 9, 2022, were neither defamatory nor done with malicious intent.

“My real intention in making those press statements was to invite or encourage the plaintiff (Tuan Ibrahim) to respond to those media statements or to bring the issue of the authority’s transparency in the awarding of the contracts for project implementation to public attention.

“Or to make the people aware of government procurement management during the caretaker period. The issue of transparency in spending public funds is an issue of public interest,“ claimed Rafizi.

The Pandan MP also claimed that he obtained information that there had been communication and a process of awarding specific projects under the Ministry of Environment and Water (KASA) to Mangkubumi Sdn Bhd.

In that regard, he said Tuan Ibrahim as the minister in charge at the time and as the plaintiff should take up the challenge to explain the issue.

He added that the parties who benefited from his media statements were members of the public and taxpayers, and it was wrong for Tuan Ibrahim to look at all that from a narrow point of view as if it was a personal issue between him and Tuan Ibrahim or PAS.

Tuan Ibrahim in his response to the defence, asserted, among other things, that Rafizi had made false allegations in his capacity as a politician and candidate for the Pandan parliamentary constituency during the campaign period for the 15th General Election, and used the slanderous statements as election campaign material

Tuan Ibrahim’s lawyer, Yusfarizal Yussoff, when contacted said case management was set for March 31.

In the suit filed on Nov 17, Tuan Ibrahim, among other things, claimed that the defamatory statement implied that during the caretaker government period, he was actively involved in negotiations, discussions and efforts to approve a project worth RM2 billion for Mangkubumi via direct bidding to carry out flood mitigation works in Sungai Langat. -Bernama