Published: Monday August 6, 2012 MYT 7:08:00 PM
Shahrizat testifies in her suit against 2 PKR leaders
By M. MAGESWARI
Shahrizat, 59, said two PKR leaders - PKR strategic director Mohd Rafizi Ramli and Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin had focused all the accusations primarily on her as (then) a Women, Family and Community Development Minister and Wanita Umno chief.
"The NFC is owned by my husband and my children and has nothing to do with me or my position or my duties as a minister nor does it have anything to do with the fact that I am Wanita Umno chief," she said on the first day of trial of her RM100mil defamation suit against both PKR leaders.
Questioned by her lead counsel Datuk Seri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Shahrizat said that NFC was just used as an instrument to attack her personally.
Shahrizat said she was not aware that her husband Datuk Seri Dr Mohamed Salleh Ismail, who is NFC executive chairman, was bidding for the National Feedlot Project through Agroscience Industries and that he had never discuss with her on the matter.
"From the day we were married some 33 years ago, we respected each other's profession and did not interfere nor encroach in each other's work. We come from two different worlds professionally.
"My husband is a scientist and I am a lawyer-politican. We do not interfere with each other's work," she testified before High Court Judicial Commissioner Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.
She said neither her husband nor her children requested for her assistance for the project.
"They know better than to ask me," she said in the packed courtroom which continuously heard murmurs or laughter from those seated in the public gallery.
She said she had never participated in any way whether directly or indirectly in assisting them in securing the commercial project.
She said Mohd Rafizi had published an article in his blog, which among others, imputed that she was involved in wrongdoings concerning the NFC and had abused her position to procure and influence the decision to award the NFCproject to Agroscience Industries.
"This is untrue and portrays me as a corrupt politician. I find this totally unacceptable as it a blatant lie calculated to maliciously attack my reputation," she said.
She said that the defendants went on an orchestrated "hate campaign" against her where it has become a topic of conversation even in the internet and social networks.
She said she was informed that the allegations against her had even spiraled into suggestions that NFC funded holidays for her in Phuket.
"My whole family and I have never been to Phuket. This is ridiculous and are blatant vicious lies orchestrated to produce anger and hatred towards me and my family," she said.
She said Mohd Rafizi's not an outright accusation was designed to tarnish her image and accused me falsely of going on free holidays paid by the NFC.
"I was a minister and have had a successful career and I did not need NFC to give me free holidays. It is actually a well calculated scheme to deceive the public and tarnish my image and orchestrated the downfall of my public career on his blatant lies and deception," she said.
"Before one can even reply to these allegations, it is all over the internet and media that the NFC or myself have been going to Bandung and Phuket holidays on NFC's expense.
“That is what I mean by creating a euphoria of hate and a tidal wave of unwarranted rumours which become unstoppable and affected my public standing," she said.
She said that Zuraida among others accused her together with her family of unlawfully profiteering by way of marking up prices of meat sold by the NFC at a discount.
She said that all allegations against herself and family were on the headlines of newspapers almost daily for several months.
"The defendants deliberately sensationalised and spun this matter until it became 'the talk of the town'.
“I was informed by friends, family members and colleagues that allegations against me had even transcended overseas in newspapers and media in countries like Singapore and the United Kingdom," she said.
She said the allegations were systematically spread all over the media and internet which created a wave of lies and hate against her until she was subsequently investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
"Obviously, when you repeat a lie so many times, eventually some people might believe it," she said.
She said the investigations by MACC lasted several months but then on May 31, the commission cleared her of any impropriety and have been absolved of exerting any influence on the decision-making process for the NFC project.
However she said, that, "It was a harrowing and heart wrenching experience for me to be investigated by the MACC after almost 30 years in politics. As a cabinet minister and Wanita Umno chief, I realized that by simply being investigated, my reputation was tarnished and damaged beyond repair.
"Essentially, the chairman of the MACC operations panel Tan Sri Dr Hadenan Abdul Jalil revealed to the press that after studying the investigation papers and reports from the Attorney-General's Chambers, there was no case against myself and the case has since been closed,” she said.
"Everywhere I go, the stigma of the defendants' lies and accusations follow me," she said.
She said that she announced her resignation to take effect from April 8 at the end of her term as a senator to do the right thing as a responsible leader.
"I did not want the opposition to use me as the wife of the chairman of NFC to malign or cast aspersions on the Government whilst I hold a public office. However, I continue in my elected post as the Wanita Umno chief and Barisan Nasional Women chief," she said.
The hearing will continue on Friday.
In the lawsuit filed on Jan 19, Shahrizat said Rafizi and Zuraida started holding a series of press conferences in various locations, including the Parliament lobby, in an orchestrated attack against NFC, her husband and family.
In her suit, Shahrizat is seeking an injunction to restrain the two PKR leaders from further making statements as well as costs, interests and other reliefs deemed fit by the court.
Rafizi, in his defence, said his statement on Nov 8 last year constituted fair comment on a matter of public interest and that he would rely on a qualified privilege.
Rafizi has filed a counter-claim on March 8 against Shahrizat over her alleged defamatory remarks that implied he was a traitor.
He accused Shahrizat of embarking on a personal and vindictive attack against him in her opening address at the Wanita Umno general assembly on Nov 30 last year.