Puad Zakarshi and Muhyiddin settle defamation suit over Facebook post alleging preferential treatment in Cabinet’s Covid-19 quarantine

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, May 29 — Umno supreme council member Datuk Mohd Puad Zarkashi and former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin have reached an agreement over the Covid-19 quarantine order defamation initiated by the latter.

The suit was scheduled to be heard at the High Court this morning, with High Court judge Hayatul Akmal Abdul Aziz presiding but was vacated after Puad read out the agreed-upon statement in open court as part of his settlement.

Both Puad and Muhyiddin shook hands after the statement was read aloud.

As part of the settlement, Puad’s agreed-upon statement will also be published on his Facebook page under the moniker “DrPuad Zarkashi”; other terms of their deal remain confidential.

In the agreed-upon statement, Puad said the February 9 Facebook posting titled “Kuarantin Pun Ada Dua Darjat” (There Are Two Degrees Even in Quarantine) — which has since been deleted — was untrue and accusatory against Muhyiddin.

Puad said he removed the posting from all his social media accounts after Muhyiddin obtained an interim injunction (pending the disposal of the suit).

He then thanked Muhyiddin for not prolonging the issue and any inconvenience greatly regretful.

Lawyer Rosli Dahlan appeared for Muhyiddin while Puad was represented by Shahril Madisa and Bahari Yeow.

On March 1, 2021, Muhyiddin sued Puad in his personal capacity for defamation, seeking RM10 million in compensation and an apology over the Rengit assemblyman’s remarks about the Covid-19 quarantine order on Facebook.

In court documents filed, Muhyiddin claimed Puad's Facebook post held a meaning that the former prime minister and his delegation refused to be quarantined for 10 days after returning from an official visit to Indonesia.

The alleged posting implied that this was purportedly why the then-health minister issued an order that Cabinet members be quarantined for only three days after returning from official overseas visits.

Muhyiddin also claimed Puad’s post inferred preferential treatment to ministers and that the Pagoh MP had abused his prime ministerial powers back then.

Muhyiddin was prime minister between March 2020 and August 2021.