Edmund Santhara is suing Batu MP P Prabakaran for defamation over allegations linked to the former deputy federal territories minister's temporary stay in New Zealand.
The Segamat MP, through law firm N Krishnan Nair & Co, filed the writ of summons at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur on June 23.
The former PKR lawmaker's suit is over statements made by Prabakaran (above, left), who is the party's Federal Territories Youth chief, during press conferences on March 17 and May 28.
On March 17, Prabakaran issued statements seeking, among others, for the New Zealand government to extradite the then deputy minister to Malaysia if the latter is found to have broken local laws.
The PKR lawmaker had also wanted an explanation as to why Santhara, who is currently a Bersatu member, could enter and remain in the country for an extended time.
Santhara previously said he underwent quarantine in New Zealand on Dec 24, 2020, and had managed to obtain 55 days of leave from Putrajaya to visit family members there.
He returned to Malaysia in March this year.
Later, on May 28, Prabakaran revealed Santhara's letter of demand against him, describing it as an attempt to bully, pressure and instil fear in the PKR lawmaker.
'Statements issued with malicious intent'
When contacted by Malaysiakini this afternoon, lawyers N Krishnan and Dinesh Muthal, who represented plaintiff Santhara and defendant Prabakaran respectively, confirmed the legal action.
According to a copy of the statement of claim in the lawsuit, Santhara claimed that Prabakaran's statements made during both press conferences were slanderous and libellous, purportedly issued with malicious intent.
The former deputy federal territories minister is seeking exemplary, aggravated and compensatory damages and for a statement of apology and retraction to be published in three local newspapers as well as uploaded on Prabakaran's social media.
Santhara, who is now deputy tourism, arts and culture minister, seeks a statement of apology and retraction in the New Zealand Herald newspaper, as well as an injunction to prevent the defendant from further issuing alleged defamatory statements.
Batu MP cites fair comment as defence
Meanwhile, through a statement of defence filed on Sept 8, Prabakaran raised the defence of justification and fair comment for the public interest, among others.
The PKR lawmaker contended that his statements are in line with his duty as a parliamentarian to raise issues that affect the people.
Prabakaran added that this was when the plaintiff was then a deputy federal territories minister responsible for areas falling under his then responsibility.
According to the online cause list at ecourtservices.kehakiman.gov.my, the suit is fixed for online case management before the Kuala Lumpur High Court Registry on Oct 13.