Harakah Daily, the online newspaper of PAS, has refused to retract an article questioning the wealth of Riza Aziz, son of Rosmah Mansor and stepson of prime minister Najib Razak, Malaysian Insider reports.
The web site’s managing editor Dr Rosli Yaakob said he was prepared to go to court.
He had written a commentary based on a New York Times article that linked Riza Aziz with Jho Low, the Penang businessman, and the controversial 1Malaysia Development Berhad, which has been described as government-owned “investment company” and “sovereign wealth fund”.
Najib’s lawyers sent a demand letter on Friday asking for a retraction, apology and damages, the usual precursor to a defamation suit. It said Rosli’s article was an “irresponsible slander that was nothing more than pure lies”.
Rosli, a member of the PAS central committee, told the Insider today he and Harakah Daily would await Najib’s suit, and were prepared to go to court. He said he had held discussions on Saturday with his lawyer, Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, the MP for Sepang.
“After receiving the [notice of a suit] we will then decide the next move including meeting the prime minister in court,” Rosli said. “For now, we do not plan to retract the article or apologise. Let the court decide whether the article was slanderous or not. I had my arguments when I wrote them.”
His lawyer Hanipa also questioned why Najib had not also sued the New York Times.
Najib’s stepson Riza made headlines last year after being reported to be a producer of the movie The Wolf of Wall Street which stars Leornado de Caprio. He was also reported to be the owner of a luxury condominium in New York worth RM110 million and a mansion in Hollywood.
Rosli said the purchase of luxury condominiums had raised important questions about where the money was coming from: how had Riza obtained funds to purchase the property from Low and to finance his production house Red Granite Pictures.
Harakahdaily, quoting the NYT, said Riza had once commented that he had funded the movie with money obtained from “sovereign wealth”, taken to be a reference to 1MDB.