Just World president Chandra Muzaffar has asked opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim whether he (Anwar) is now admitting that he will be an "unmitigated disaster" should the opposition win the forthcoming general election and Anwar becomes the prime minister.
Chandra, a former PKR deputy president, also asked whether by removing two paragraphs from the RM10 million defamation suit Anwar filed against him - that the Kuala Lumpur High Court allowed today - also meant that Anwar was admitting he did deceive the public.
Justice Nik Hasmat Nik Mohamad allowed Anwar to amend his statement of claim and ordered the politician to pay RM1,000 as costs.
Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin (right in photo), who acted for for Chandra, said the court allowed Anwar to amend his statement of claim and that this was quite significant because Anwar withdrew two allegations that had been included in his suit.
Anwar was therefore narrowing the scope of his suit, Firoz Hussein said.
Outside the court, Chandra referred to two paragraphs that Anwar took out of his statement of claim.
The two statements were reported by The Star and New Straits Times in 2008, resulting in Anwar suing Chandra for defamation.
"If Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (left) becomes Prime Minister, it will be an 'unmitigated disaster' for Malaysia, a former Parti Keadilan Nasional (before they joined forces with Parti Rakyat Malaysia to become PKR) deputy president said at a forum yesterday." This paragraph was carried in The Star .
The NST reported: "Asked why he was breaking his silence now, Chandra said it appeared the people were being deceived by Anwar, and this was something which he was prepared to do."
Chandra said: "This is something that Anwar has to answer, emanating from this action of the removal of the two paragraphs.
"Is Anwar now admitting that he would be an 'unmitigated disaster' should the opposition win and is he now admitting that he had deceived the public?"
'Anwar acted for freedom of speech'
Counsel N Surendran and Latheefa Koya, who acted for Anwar, told reporters outside court that Anwar moved to remove the two paragraphs after taking freedom of speech into account.
Chandra was entitled to his opinion, Surendran said, and he went on to note that the court also ordered Chandra to justify his defamatory statement in the two newspaper reports, in reference to the Kampung Jawa clash in Penang, on which he quotes Anwar as saying that he (Anwar) would make sure the temple bells would not ring anymore.
Latheefa ( right in photo ) also confirmed that Anwar was asked to pay costs of RM1,000 for his application to amend his statement of claim.
Justice Nik Hasmat has ordered the case to go for trial on April 3 and 4. The two parties had met in court in April last year, but they failed to reach an out-of-court settlement.
On March 6, 2008, Anwar sued Chandra for making defamatory remarks about him at a forum held at Menara Star in Petaling Jaya on March 3, 2008, which were subsequently published in newspapers.
Anwar claimed that Chandra used the offending words to disparage him in both his private and official capacities, including as former deputy prime minister and former finance minister, and claimed that the defamatory comments, among others, meant that he promoted and incited racial hatred among the races in Malaysia.
Chandra, in his statement of defence filed on May 16, 2008, denied having uttered malicious, false or defamatory comments about Anwar, which the opposition leader claimed were published in two local English newspapers on March 5, 2008.
Alternatively, Chandra claimed that if the words were defamatory, which he denied, then they were published on an occasion of qualified privilege and without malice.
'A bid to distract attention'
Surendran, in commenting on Chandra's assertion, described the Just World president as mischievous, false, absurd and making a futile attempt to distract attention from the heart of the matter.
"The High Court judge in allowing Anwar's application to amend the statement of claim did not make any ruling that the amendment would amount to an admission. Chandra's statement is based on his own baseless and illogical interpretation of the court order. In fact, the judge agreed with Anwar's lawyers that the amendment would help narrow down issues at the trial.
"Chandra is blowing hot and cold, because he had through his lawyers objected to Anwar's amendments. Chandra's objections were rightly rejected by the judge this morning. If Anwar's amendments meant that he is admitting to being a 'disastrous PM', why then did Chandra object to the amendments? Chandra appears now to be lashing out, after having lost the argument in court this morning," said Surendran in a statement.
Surendran explained that Anwar is suing Chandra for making a false and libelous statement alleging that Anwar had said that he would make sure 'temple bells would not ring any more'.
"Chandra must answer for this outrageous statement in court. Chandra's statement today is thus a futile and desperate attempt to distract attention from the real issue in the lawsuit.
"In any event, whether Anwar should be PM is a decision for people of this country to make at the 13th general election. It is not for any court of law to make this decision. Chandra must learn that this is how a real democracy functions," said Surendran.