KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 – The High Court today set June 5 for its decision in the RM100 million defamation suit brought by PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim against Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman. Judicial Commissioner Siti Khadijah S. Hassan Badjenid set the date after Anwar had testified at today’s hearing of the suit. Anwar was recalled to attend court today after the High Court allowed an application by Anifah to amend his statement of defence.
In the amended statement of defence, Anifah stated that he was approached by former KFC Holdings (M) Bhd deputy chairman Datuk Ishak Ismail sometime before Sept 16, 2008, when he was with several other members of parliament at the Cigar Lounge in Kuala Lumpur Hilton. Anifah stated that Ishak made an offer of RM100 million for him and several other Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs from Sabah close to him to cross over from the BN coalition to the Pakatan Rakyat Opposition pact.
Anwar told the court today he never sent Ishak as an agent to meet Anifah and get the minister to switch to the Opposition camp. Anwar also said that his last contact with Ishak was in 2004 when the latter visited him in Munich. “I was not close to him since 1998 and only once, in 2004, he appeared in Munich and we had a simple communication at that time,” he said during cross-examination by counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who represented Anifah.
Muhammad Shafee: “Do you know who Ishak Ismail is?” Anwar: “I knew him from the early 80s. He is from Penang like you and, when I was a minister, he approached me, like you did. Muhammad Shafee: “This is not the place to play the fool. Just answer! Do you know Ishak Ismail?” Anwar: “Yes. He served in the Permatang Pauh (Umno) division in 1994-1995. I have been head of Permatang Pauh since 1982.
I know he is a businessman and involved in KFC and Idris Hydraulic.” Muhammad Shafee: “Did you use Ishak as an agent to strike a deal with Anifah so that Sept 16, 2008, would become a reality? (referring to the day when the Opposition reportedly planned to take over Putrajaya following the alleged crossover of some BN MPs to the Opposition camp. The plan did not materialise.) Anwar: “No. I did not contact Ishak.”
Anwar also said that Anifah’s allegation of a RM100 million offer (to him) to switch to the Opposition was “malicious and nasty”. He said the allegation was also totally untrue and was an afterthought. Meanwhile, during re-examination by his lawyer Razlan Hadri Zulkifli, Anwar said he was not close with Ishak now and confirmed that Ishak had not been his agent from 2004 to today.
Anwar filed the suit against Anifah and the Malaysian government on May 27, 2009, alleging that the minister’s remarks at a media conference in Washington, where the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was present, had tarnished his image. Anwar accused Anifah of having depicted him as a person who was unfit to hold political or any other post, and dangerous to Malaysian society. Anwar also alleged that Anifah’s remarks, which he claimed were widely reported in the local and foreign media, had cast imputations on his character and directly and indirectly portrayed him as unethical, unprincipled and corrupt.