To Sue Or Not To Sue? – A Tale Of Two Prime Ministers

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By: B Goode

The story might be stale, but its moral is enduring.

When Roy Ngerng accused PM Lee of embezzlement, PM Lee was quick to sue. Roy Ngerng admitted that he had lied and apologized. Some critics though, condemned PM Lee for being high-handed and harsh, conveniently forgetting that PM Lee had no choice but to sue because that was the only way to clear his and his office good name.

Some argued that he could have taken a road less travelled, indeed a non-existent path as far as the government is concerned, and that is to simply take the time to explain away the accusation.

Enter the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak.

He was accused of embezzlement via the government’s investment vehicle 1MDB. It started off as innocuous `rumours’ amongst the opposition MPs and bloggers. At that time when PM Najib was asked for his comments, he remained silent.

And those `rumours’ persisted and grew to become straight-up accusation of corruption with even the former PM Mahathir joining the fray. Still PM Najib decided to simply deny the allegation and stopped short of suing his accusers to clear his name.

And then the bombshell dropped when Wall Street Journal published an article stating as fact that some US$700 million of 1MDB’s money was deposited into PM Najib’s private bank accounts.

And yet, despite calls for him to sue the WSJ to clear his name, he decided to keep mum, although his legal team did send a lawyer’s letter to WSJ asking the publisher to explain the contents of the article. A red herring is not the real deal.

And now look at what is happening not only to PM Najib, but to Malaysia as well. His position is under threat but most importantly, Malaysia’s reputation is in tatters with accusations coming from far and wide, the latest being a damning report from Bloomberg.

And as a fight-back, PM Najib’s team has accused some shadowy international group of conspiring to topple his government. As a result, political opponents and dissenters are under threat of arrest. In fact, a few have already been barred from leaving the country.

So in case one forgets, the moral of the story is; litigation has its purpose.

Failure to do so will have far wider consequences to the stability of the country itself.

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