The trial of the suit between National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd (NFCorp) and its chairman Datuk Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail (Plaintiffs) against Lembah Pantai MP and PKR vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (Defendants) entered its second day today at the High Court at Kuala Lumpur before Judge Datuk Hue Siew Kheng.
In the cross examination, Nurul buckled under pressure to admit she had not attempted nor verified the banking information revealed by her counterpart PKR strategy director Rafiizi Ramli if it was in fact loan account documents.
“Common decency dictates that you should. Why didn’t you,” questioned lead counsel for the plaintiffs Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
For a moment Nurul had attempted to allude to having done so in investigations but admitted to court that she had not and merely presumed the bank documents were loan accounts for eight KL Eco City properties.
Nurul then gave a news conference on 7 March 2012 in which she lent credence to Rafizi Ramli’s false allegations on loans having been taken through the leveraging of a RM71.4 million government deposit placed by NFCorp at Public Bank Berhad.
Nurul’s credibility was also questioned when asked if she had evidence to prove that the RM71.4 million government deposit had been used to pledge for loans to acquire the eight KL Eco City properties. She said she had not.
Earlier Monday, NFCorp chairman Datuk Mohamad Salleh Ismail had testified that the documents were loan assessment applications to determine forced sale values. Salleh had also testified and provided evidence that a loan offer from Public Bank Berhad had been cancelled on 4 January 2012. As such, no loans exist for the KL Eco City properties.
Today, Shafee also drew the attention of the court on Nurul’s ignorance on several points in relation to the purported loans for the eight KL Eco City properties.
Shafee questioned why Nurul as an MP had not raised her concerns in parliament as she had pleaded justification of public interest as an MP in her defence but instead chose to recklessly defame at a news conference.
Nurul was also quizzed by Shafee if she was in the habit of making wrongful statements. While she had replied, “No,” Shafee drew the attention of the court that Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin, former Federal Territories and Urban Well-being minister, had sued Nurul for statements allegedly defaming the former over the sale of land in Bukit Kiara.
It was reported that Nurul Izzah had read out a statement saying that she found that there was a mistake in her media statement given on May 4 2013, a day before the 13th general election. She said she found that her statement had affected the good name and reputation of Raja Nong Chik as a politician, accountant, businessman and as a minister as well as his family’s.
She expressed regret making the statements and promised she would not repeat them.
In his suit against Nurul and PKR, Datuk Salleh said Nurul by her statements made at that 7 March 2012 press conference acknowledging the details of the disclosure by her counterpart Rafizi and giving credence to it, had caused irreparable damage to Salleh’s reputation, credibility and standing, and which led to the collapse of the businesses of NFCorp and its related companies.
“Nurul ought to know that as a political figure, her words would carry weight with the members of the public and therefore, she ought to have been responsible and accountable.”
The court was shown the two video news clips of the press conference held by the Defendants in which the defamation and slanders were explicitly made.
“I verily believe that the main motivation of why PKR was so actively involved and orchestrated this entire fiasco was mainly in preparation for the general elections held in 2013.
Rafizi and indeed the second defendant held nothing back in their pursuit to destroy me and the second plaintiff and its related companies.
The press release, the oral media statements and the disclosure of confidential banking information by the defendants had convinced the media to write and publish adversely of the plaintiffs, said Datuk Salleh.
This resulted in immense public outrage arising from the subsequent news reports on the Internet news portals, mainstream newspapers, radio and television, blogs and tweets, all of which alarmed the government and authorities.
The court was also shown a sampling of some of the damaging headlines and news contents resulting from the press conference given by the defendants. Some 110 news stories had evolved as a result of the press conference and disclosures.
This, he said, resulted in him being charged in court five days later, his funds and assets seized and frozen by the authorities, and his entire businesses crippled and collapsed.
NFCorp, Datuk Salleh said, had taken a RM250 million loan to operate the business and not as claimed by Nurul, “dibiayai sepenuhnya oleh Kerajaan Malaysia.”
At the outset, the Defendants had alleged that the plaintiffs were “in a mess”. They had taken the Auditor General’s Audit Report of 2010 and abused it by lying, distorting and misrepresenting the information by the Auditor General to the media, government and general public.
Auditor General Tan Sri Dato’ Setia Ambrin Buang in a press statement and in a letter to NFCorp on 25 January 2012, had clarified that the Jabatan Audit Negara did not audit private limited companies.
Tan Sri Ambrin said NFCorp was never audited by his department. He also underscored the fact that he had never said NFCorp was “in a mess”.