(Kuala Lumpur, Friday): My lawyers have today filed two RM250 million defamation suits, one against the New Straits Times and another against the New Sunday Times, for publishing most defamatory cartoons against me.
The New Straits Times on February 19, 1999 published a political cartoon by M. Desa captioned ‘Kit Siang wants prison conditions improved’ while the New Sunday Times on February 21, 1999 published another cartoon by M. Desa captioned ‘A prisoner according to Kit Siang’, both of which are highly defamatory.
I am instituting the two RM250 million defamation
suit against the New Straits Times and the New Sunday Times for the same
three reasons for which I had instituted a RM250 million defamation suit
against Utusan Malaysia, namely:
Some quarters have suggested that I am "greedy" in asking for such colossal damages running into RM250 million for each suit. Let me say that I am not being "greedy" and that I am prepared to donate the entire proceeds of the mega multi billion ringgit defamation suits to public foundations for the cause of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance should I succeed in them.
My lawyers and I have decided on the RM250 million defamation suits against New Straits Times and New Sunday Times, and a few days ago, against Utusan Malaysia, simply because we have taken into account two recent defamation suits, one by the son of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Mirzan Mahathir, who sued the printers of Asian Wall Street Journal (AWSJ) - Star Papyrus, a subsidiary of Star Publications - for RM150 million for an article entitled Mahathir's Eldest Son Limits Ambitions written by Mr Bruce Knecht and the other by Berjaya Group chairman and chief executive Tan Sri Vincent Tan who sued Star Papyrus for RM 200 million for another AWSJ article entitled Malaysia Props Up Crony Capitalists written by local academic Professor K.S. Jomo.
I have also a fourth RM250 million defamation suit in the pipeline - against the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir for his most defamatory statements against me when he said that I had made "baseless" allegations about the prison conditions of DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng, to gain "political mileage and publicity by tarnishing the image of the government" and that my allegations were "merely lies which were unfair to the prison officers who were serving with much dedication". Abdul Kadir even made the preposterous allegation that I was trying to "thwart the Government's efforts to bring investors back" and "scare away tourists".
I have instructed my lawyers to hold on to the RM250 million defamation suit against Abdul Kadir to give the new Deputy Home Minister a chance to clarify that he was misled with facts and data about prison conditions and life which made him say things which he should have never said but for which he must bear full personal responsibility - such as calling me a "liar".
I have instructed my lawyers to file the RM250 million defamation suit against Abdul Kadir if by Monday,March 8, 1999, he has not retracted all the baseless allegations he had made against me. The deadline for the fourth RM250 million defamation suit to be filed against Abdul Kadir would be two days before the Parliamentary meeting on prison reforms for which I am inviting interested political parties, NGOs and Malaysians, as well as prison staff including the Director-General of Prisons, Datuk Omar Mohamad Dan, to ensure that Malaysia’s penal system comply with the minimum international standards for the treatment of prisoners.