August 1, 2023
SINGAPORE – Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has obtained an interim court order preventing Kedah caretaker chief minister and opposition politician Sanusi Md Nor from making defamatory statements against him, ahead of the crucial Aug 12 state elections.
This is seen as the latest move to curtail the influence of the popular leader from the opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.
Sanusi, PN’s national election director, has been charged in court with sedition for insulting the Selangor ruler, and is due for questioning over alleged corruption involving mining activities in the state.
Alor Setar High Court judge Mahazan Mat Taib on Sunday granted an interim injunction filed by Datuk Seri Anwar to stop Sanusi from repeating, uttering and publishing statements against the premier at rallies, events and interviews, as well as making any postings or publication in the media.
A copy of the order was served to Sanusi’s lawyers at 12.30pm on Monday, said Mr Anwar’s lawyer, Datuk Sankara Nair.
Kedah and five other Malaysian states are holding simultaneous polls to elect state governments on Aug 12, with PM Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional alliance facing off against PN.
The court order states that Sanusi must comply with the interim injunction upon being served a copy and that he, his employees and his agents are restrained from repeating defamatory statements until the defamation lawsuit between him and Mr Anwar – filed in late 2022 – has been heard.
Mr Sankara said Sanusi will be subjected to legal proceedings for contempt of court if he repeated his defamatory remarks.
“Sanusi is therefore given a stern warning to abide by the terms of the injunction or else, he shall swiftly face all the legal consequences,” he said.
Lawyer Amer Hamzah told The Straits Times that Sanusi could file an application to set aside or challenge the ex-parte injunction order, with expected exchanges of affidavits before the hearing can be heard. But Mr Amer said there is a possibility that the hearing may be heard after the Aug 12 election.
Mr Sankara said Sanusi is aware that Mr Anwar has filed a lawsuit against him at the Alor Setar High Court in December 2022 for allegedly defamatory statements made during last year’s general election.
In that lawsuit, Mr Anwar alleged that Sanusi implied that he had abused his powers as an MP, was deceitful, a traitor, a hypocrite and not a good Muslim.
In his defence statement, Sanusi said that he had no malicious intent and did not slander Mr Anwar, but merely criticised him.
Despite the lawsuit, Mr Sankara said Sanusi has “obstinately and recalcitrantly” pursued in repeating similar defamatory utterances and statements at two PN rallies in Negeri Sembilan on March 18 and in Selangor on July 11.
Sanusi, who attracts large crowds at his political rallies for his blunt criticisms of the government, is currently in trouble over several issues.
On July 18, he was charged with two counts of sedition under the Sedition Act owing to remarks allegedly insulting Selangor’s ruler.
Sanusi has also been implicated by the unity government in a scandal regarding the theft of rare earth elements in the state.