Chandra (right): “In the beginning, why didn't he (Anwar) withdraw the two charges against me five years ago since he had taken into account the freedom of speech when he decided to withdraw the charges today.” (Graphic by Dayang Norazhar/The Mole)
KUALA LUMPUR: Academic and political scientist Dr Chandra Muzaffar asked why it took five years for opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to withdraw two out of three claims against him in a RM10 million defamation suit.
Speaking to The Mole, Chandra said: “In the beginning, why didn’t he (Anwar) withdraw the two claims against me five years ago since he had taken into account the freedom of speech when he decided to withdraw the charges today.”
Chandra was responding to the move by Anwar to withdraw two of the three claims against him (Chandra): i) for saying that it would be an unmitigated disaster for Malaysia if Anwar became the Prime Minister; ii) for saying that Anwar was deceiving the people and iii) for saying that Anwar had threatened a Hindu temple in Penang (in March 1998) that the "temple's bells would stop ringing".
The first two claims were withdrawn by Anwar on Jan 13, and on the following day the Kuala Lumpur High Court advised the two parties to go for an out of court settlement.
When asked to comment over the two claims that were withdrawn against him, Chandra stated, “Well, it’s significant for him (Anwar) to leave out his two claims against me.”
“Is he now justifying himself by admitting that he is an ‘unmitigated disaster’ or deceiving the people?” he questioned.
Chandra suspected that Anwar was a bit concerned over the two charges fearing it could reveal a lot about the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leader.
“I suspect Anwar is a bit concerned if those two claims were part of the trial, a lot of things may come out, especially in the midst of the 13th general election which is coming soon,’’ he added.
Meanwhile, Anwar’s lawyer N.Surendran when contacted via text message said that he had issued a press release on Anwar’s blog.
Surendran alongside Anwar’s other lawyer, Latheefa Koya, in excerpt from the press release said, “This is a mischievous, false and absurd statement by Chandra. 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 High Court Judge agreed with Anwar’s lawyers that the amendment would help narrow down issues at the trial,’’ he added.
“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?”
Surendran who is PKR’s vice-president said that Chandra has appeared to be lashing out after having lost the argument in court over Anwar’s amendments to his statement of claim.
He also said that Anwar is suing Chandra for making a false and libellous statement alleging that Anwar had said that he would make sure ‘ temple bells would not ring anymore’.
“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.”
Blogger OutSyed The Box wrote that Anwar’s lawyers in a dramatic turn of events applied to the court that they wished to withdraw two out of three charges against Chandra.
The blogger, Syed Akbar Ali wrote: “Well everyone turned up in Court this morning except Anwar of course. They (Anwar’s lawyers) applied to the Court and the Court also granted their request that i and ii above: i. it would be an unmitigated disaster for Malaysia if Anwar became the Prime Minister ii. that Anwar was deceiving the people would be dropped from their libel suit against Dr Chandra.”