I never begged any party for support to remain as PM – Ismail Sabri


KUALA LUMPUR, April 8 — Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob today stressed that he had never begged any political party to maintain their support for him to remain as the Prime Minister.

Ismail Sabri, 62, said this in reply to the statement of defence filed by the owner of Agenda Daily Media Enterprise, Muhamad Izwan Mohd Zubit.

Ismail Sabri, in his personal capacity, is suing Agenda Daily for defamation over its article titled “Ismail Sabri bimbang jadi PM paling singkat, ‘rayu’ jangan tarik sokongan” (“Ismail Sabri concerned about being PM with the shortest term, begs not to pull out support”).

Ismail Sabri said he believed that Muhamad Izwan did not attend the ceramah (political talk) held at the Bera District Council Convention Hall on Jan 29.

“At the ceramah, I made a speech which was referred to and published by local newspapers. At the material time before the publication of the article, the defendant did not contact me for verification or explanation of my speech at the convention.

“Instead, the defendant had recklessly referred to articles published by local newspapers and published the article which contained defamatory statements against me,” he said in the reply to the statement of defence filed on April 6.

Overall, Ismail Sabri said the article had defamed him and implied that he was dishonest, selfish and desperate to continue being the prime minister in whatever way. 

He claimed that the defendant had failed to practice responsible journalism in publishing the article.

Instead, Ismail Sabri claimed that the defendant was influenced or motivated by malicious intent as he knew that the Johor state election was set on March 12 and he aimed to belittle and tarnish the plaintiff’s reputation as UMNO member and the Prime Minister.

 “The excuse of ‘practising responsible journalism’ given by the defendant is completely unfounded and indefensible,” he said.

On February 18, Ismail Sabri obtained an interim injunction order from the High Court for the defendant to remove the posting and from making any statements in relation to him.

On March 4, the High Court granted Ismail Sabri another ad-interim injunction against Muhamad Izwan, to maintain the status quo pending the disposal of the inter-parte injunction application on April 27.

In his statement of claim, Ismail Sabri said that on Jan 30, Agenda Daily Media had published an article on its website which contained various ill-intentioned, defamatory and untrue statements regarding the plaintiff.

The plaintiff said that the article, among others, implied that he was desperate to continue being the prime minister in whatever way and was even willing to beg certain political parties not to withdraw their support for him besides inferring that he was concerned about becoming the prime minister with the shortest tenure in Malaysian history.

As a result of the publication of the article, Ismail Sabri said his reputation as UMNO member and as Prime Minister had been tarnished.

“The publication also caused me emotional turmoil and the defamatory statements contained in the article can also have a negative effect on my political career,” he said.

As such, Ismail Sabri sought an injunction order for the defendant to delete the defamatory article on all websites and social media operated by the defendant and an injunction order to prevent the defendant or his agent from issuing similar defamatory statements against the plaintiff.

Muhamad Izwan, 37, in his statement of defence claimed that he and his company had practised responsible journalism in the publication of the article related to Ismail Sabri.

He also strongly refuted that the article contained defamatory and malicious statements toward the plaintiff.

The defendant claimed that the words used in the article do not have negative connotations in politics nor are they insulting, instead, the words reflect a politician’s humility in asking for support.

“The article was a fair and justified commentary and political analysis. If the plaintiff did not agree with the comments and analysis, at any time, the plaintiff as a prime minister and prominent politician, always has the space and opportunity to answer and refute it,” he said.