Rain or shine, pandemic or not, Khairy’s appeal in Anwar suit must proceed, says judge

by BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA – The Court of Appeal today cautioned that there would be no more adjournment in Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar’s (picture) appeal hearing over having to pay RM150,000 in damages to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in a defamation suit 13 years ago.

Justice Datuk Lee Swee Seng who led a three-member bench said it has to be the last adjournment as it is a 2017 appeal after Khairy’s co-counsel has requested for postponement, this after lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was unable to attend today’s proceedings after calling in sick.

“No matter what, we have to proceed with the case. We are sympathetic with respect to health issues, but this is a 2017 case (appeal) and this case should be disposed of as soon as possible this year. The legal team should have prepared another lawyer to submit, in the event that the lead lawyer is indisposed. 

“The adjournment (today) shall be the final adjournment date, and no further adjournment date will be allowed. The case – come rain or shine, rain or flood, pandemic or no pandemic, will proceed,” said Justice Lee who presided over the case via Zoom with Justices Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera and Datuk Darryl Goon Siew Chye.

Co-counsel for Khairy, Sarah Abishegam informed the panel that she received a call from Muhammad Shafee this morning.

“He (Muhammad Shafee) said he is unable to conduct today’s proceedings as he had developed a fever due to pain from rheumatoid arthritis, and also suffered pain on his wrists and right shoulder.

“Therefore, he is requesting this case to be adjourned. We apologise Yang Arif. We will submit the medical certificate to court,” she said.

Justice Lee also directed for the matter to be fixed for case management before the court registry to set a new hearing date for Khairy’s appeal, as Anwar’s counsel J.Leela did not raise any objection to the adjournment application.

Leela later told the media that the court has fixed Nov 2 for the hearing of the appeal.

Anwar, who is PKR president, sued Khairy, who was then Youth and Sports minister and UMNO Youth vice-chief, on March 7, 2008, alleging that Khairy had uttered defamatory words about him during a ceramah at Lembah Pantai on Feb 20 the same year which led to the posting of a video clip titled “Anwar and kin no threat” on news portals.

In September 2017, High Court judge Azizul Azmi Adnan allowed Anwar’s suit against Khairy and found Khairy liable for defamation and therefore ordered Khairy to pay RM150,000 in general damages to Anwar.

Azizul also dismissed Khairy’s application to amend his statement of defence to say that his remark was a fair comment.

Khairy subsequently filed the appeal against the High Court ruling but in February 2018, the Court of Appeal struck it out after allowing Anwar’s counsel’s application to annul the notice of appeal.

On Dec 15 last year, the Federal Court allowed Khairy’s appeal for his case to be reheard on its full merits at the Court of Appeal, which was set for hearing today.