KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7, 2015:
Despite pointing out former Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s conflict of interest in the National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd (NFCorp) scandal, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar insists she did not defame NFCorp executive chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail (Shahrizat’s husband).
Testifying at the High Court here today, the Lembah Pantai lawmaker said her statements were made on the basis of carrying out her duties as an Member of Parliament and politician.
“I was voicing out my constituents’ concerns on the issue of KL Eco City development, the purchase of eight condominium units by Mohamad Salleh and his family members, and his wife’s involvement with the project, which raised public concern on the elements of conflict of interest.
“The public demands an explanation on these issues and, as a public figure, I voiced these issues out aloud, seeking a clarification from all parties involved,” she told High Court judge Datuk Hue Siew Kheng during lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah’s cross-examination.
However, when quizzed by Shafee on how the conflict of interest involved Shahrizat, she said her involvement as Umno Wanita chief would make her privy to information on the KL Eco City project via Umno-linked Yayasan Gerak Bakti (YGP) Holdings Sdn Bhd.
The company, Nurul Izzah claimed, was the initial partner of the project developer, SP Setia Bhd.
“As (then) MP, you (Sharizat) would definitely know the plans for development, especially with regards to the (land parcel development) at Kampung Abdullah Hukum.
“You could abuse and pass on the information to your family,” she said.
When asked by Shafee whether anyone could purchase properties there, Nurul agreed, saying that she wished she could but that circumstances of the land would prevent her from doing so.
“This is a disputed land parcel, and one of the last valuable land lots available in Lembah Pantai and meant for the development of the Bumiputera community.
“So you (Shafee) cannot say this is a normal property and that anyone can buy. I would stay far away from it,” she said.
However, Nurul Izzah also testified that she had not checked with Shahrizat, Mohamad Salleh or with Public Bank on allegations that the NFCorp executive chairman had purchased eight luxury condominium units at KL Eco City.
In answering her counsel, Joshua Kevin Sathiaseelan, during re-examination, Nurul Izzah also stressed that the defamation accusations hurled against her for her statement, which referred to PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli’s statement, which was said to be defamatory, were unwarranted.
“As I know, a suit against Rafizi is pending and the court has not declared that his statement is defamatory.
“Therefore, at present, it is premature to say that I was wrong in giving credence to his statement when it has not been declared defamatory,” she added.
Rafizi’s defamation trial is expected to be held on Aug 15.
Following testimony from Nurul Izzah and Mohamad Salleh earlier, Hue fixed Feb 4 for both sides to present their submissions.
On Jan 13 last year, Mohamad Salleh and his company filed a defamation suit against Nurul Izzah over a statement regarding the purchase of eight condominium units, aired on Malaysiakini TV.
The suit, which also named Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) then secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution as the second defendant, was filed on Dec 24 last year.
In his statement of claim, Mohamad Salleh alleged that Nurul Izzah had made a statement based on the exposure of PKR’s then strategic director Rafizi, who alleged he (Mohamad Salleh) had bought eight units of condominiums at KL Eco City with public funds channelled to NFCorp.
Mohamad Salleh further claimed that the statement implied that he and his family had misappropriated NFCorp funds to buy the condominiums for their personal, and not company, use.
He also claimed that the statement had tarnished his reputation and credibility as a businessman and husband of Shahrizat, and was subjected to ridicule by the public.
He is seeking an injunction to halt the defendants from publishing any such statements about him and general, exemplary and punitive damages