Guan Eng: Pahang govt’s legal demands, threat to sue, an attempt to muzzle critics

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has hit out against the Pahang government following threats to sue Bentong MP Wong Tack, over two social media posts linked to last year’s flooding and logging activities in the state.

“The Pahang government should be protecting the people’s right to freedom of expression and not take action against dissenters or those who oppose their policies on logging or environmental protection,” Lim said in a statement today.

“By taking action against what is essentially a person seeking legal redress to defend a person, or a company’s reputation, the government is now stretching the definition of defamation to cover governments so that its policies can no longer be questioned or criticised.”

The state government, in a Feb 4 letter to Wong, through its lawyers Hidayah Isyak and Partners, had demanded an apology and RM1 million in damages within 14 days for allegedly making defamatory statements on logging activities in the state, failing which, a suit would be filed in court.

It is claimed that Wong had made statements, and posted videos on Facebook on Dec 28 last year, and on Jan 30, which were defamatory in nature, against the state government.

Lim said the act (of suing) was different, if done by ministers or Menteris Besar in their personal capacity, as they have the right to protect their reputation whilst acting in their official capacity.

“However, for a government to sue is tantamount to putting the government on a ‘divine’ pedestal, that it must be treated as something ‘holy’, which no one can speak ill of.

“Is this not an abuse of government privileges and resources?” Lim asked.

Lim said the state government should be protecting the people, and not seek protection from the very people they have sworn to serve.

“This is not what democracy is all about, and an anathema to freedom of speech, as well as offending the fundamental rights of every citizen,” said Lim.

Last week, the Pahang government had also sought an apology and RM1 million in damages from environmentalist Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil for allegedly making defamatory statements on logging activities in the state.

In its letter of demand, it is claimed that Shariffa Sabrina had made the statements in two Facebook posts, dated Dec 29, and Dec 30 last year, and during a Sinar Harian interview on Jan 12.

Lim added that it was the duty of the state government to provide clarification, or point-to-point rebuttal, and not resort to legal action in a “blatant attempt to abruptly close the matter because there can be no constructive public discourse if the matter is brought to trial”.