If we were to compare this whole 1MDB fiasco to anything, it’s be a Spanish soap opera directed by M. Night Shyamalan – in the sense that it started with such high hopes and, over time, degrades into a series of complicated plot twists that either serves to annoy you or make you keel over frothing at the mouth. Honestly, with all the exposés and the “You-did-it-no-I-didn’t” back and forth between certain media outlets and PM Najib’s camp that we’re surprised Malaysia hasn’t been hit with a popcorn shortage yet.
But sometimes, the complication isn’t just within the plot… it also extends to legal documents and whatever “proof” that happens to leak out. In this case, we’re referring to the letter presented by PM Najib’s lawyers to the Wall Street Journal over their articles allegedly defaming him.
So in case you’ve been queuing for popcorn and totally missed the latest development, local law firm Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak sent a letter to the publishers of the Wall Street Journal which somehow made it’s way into social media. A press statement was released to confirm that they have indeed sent such a letter. For reference, here are the images of the letter taken from JebatMustDie:
We made the images small on purpose because we found that reading sentences such as:
“We are instructed to procure your position because the Articles collectively suggest that you are unsure of “the original source of the money and what happened to the money” whilst on the other hand, the general gist…” – actual excerpt from the letter -_-“
may make your head go spinny spinny boom boom.
So, what we did was that we spoke to Eric Paulsen of Lawyers for Liberty to decipher the letter and change the lawyerspeak to Malaysianspeak.
Do note that we had to change some super complicated words like “scurrilous” to “scandalous,” alter the sentence structure a little and add jokes in to make it easier to read, but the overall meaning of the letter doesn’t change. If anything, it should be easier to understand.
Also, this is meant to be for fun, so please don’t sue us. We won’t be able to understand the lawyer’s letter 😉
Awright, so here be the CILISOS version of Najib’s lawyer’s letter to the Wall Street Journal:
Ohai WALL STREET JOURNAL (hereintoforth referred to as “ugaiz”),
This is about your two articles about PM Najib by Simon Clark and Tom Wright:
- “Malaysia Leader’s Accounts Probed” published on 2nd July
- “Scandal in Malaysia” published on 6th July.
* Eh after this we refer to them as the “Articles” can? So we won’t have to keep re-typing so many words.
Just to let ugaiz know, we speak on behalf of Prime Minister Najib, but as Najib-the-Ordinary-Person and not Najib-the-Prime-Minister.
K, here’s the thing… Those Articles you wrote – got a lot of confusing, scandalous, and unclear accusations against PM Najib.
Because of that, PM Najib ask us to double-confirm with you that Wall Street Journal really think he salah guna nearly USD$700 million from 1MDB?
It’s like this, okay… Your Articles give the impression that PM Najib salah guna-ed about US$700 million belonging to 1MDB. But then, the Articles also seem to suggest that you don’t know where the money came from and where it went.
HOW CAN LIKE THAT? Your newspaper so femes and whole world read – must write clear clear la! No wonder our client ask us to check properly with ugaiz. We expect you to state clearly whether you stand by your accusations that PM Najib salahgunakan that money from 1MDB. As you know la, these accusations are quite serious so we need this confirmation from you first; then only we can advise PM Najib whether to sue you or not. Sooo.. you sure ah? Sure ah? Confirm sure? Double confirm sure?
Eh but serious bro, ugaiz MUST reply us within 14 days or, even better, let us know if you hired Malaysian lawyers that we can correspond with on ugaizs’ behalf in case we decide to take any action. Make life easier for both parties la, kan?
BTW, This letter is from our side, BUT it’s still up to PM Najib whether he wants to sue you onot. K?
So, easier to understand or not?
If our version of the letter didn’t make it easier (sorry), here’s Eric’s summary of it:
“The letter is asking the Wall Street Journal to say “Yes, I confirm this is what I meant, that Najib misappropriated US$700 million,” so that Najib’s lawyers can sue them.” – Eric Paulsen, in phone interview with CILISOS.
Eric also adds that it’s a really badly drafted letter since it doesn’t specify which parts of WSJ’s articles are allegedly defamatory, and the logic behind sending the letter makes you wanna do a Jackie Chan meme pose. This sentiment has also been shared by some other lawyers, with one saying that “every sentence made him cringe”.
Eric instead points out the defamation letter from Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s lawyers to Roy Ngerng as an example of how to properly draft this sort of legal document. Take a look at it here on Roy Ngerng’s blog.
But in any case, we wait for the Wall Street Journal’s reply with clickbaited breath (and popcorn!), but we really hope it’d be something along the lines of what lawyer Azhar Harun suggested:
“Dear lawyers, inability to grasp and/or understand what we had published is not a known or established ground for defamation suits. Thank you.” – Azhar Harun’s “advice” to the Wall Street Journal, as quoted in Malaysiakini.
If that reply does happen though, it’d be an epic…
[UPDATE]: The Wall Street Journal’s reply to Najib’s lawyers
Dow Jones & Company, the Wall Street Journal’s publisher issued an initial response to the Malay Mail Online, stating:
“We stand behind our fair and accurate coverage of this evolving story” – Dow Jones & Company, as quoted in the Malay Mail Online
We held back from posting this update for awhile (14 days to be exact) in case the WSJ gives Najib’s lawyers an official reply and our help is needed to…um… simplify it. J-Lo and behold, they DID send an official reply but, unfortunately, there’s no copy of it available online. However, what we do know is that it contains massive amounts of
Here’s the list of burns (aka details of the letter as reported in The Malay Mail Online):
- The reply arrived exactly on the deadline (14 days) which we don’t think was due to their lawyers scrambling in legal panic.
- The letter urged Najib’s lawyers to explain to him the difference between a news article and a commentary.
- Dow Jones said there was no need to appoint a Malaysian lawyer since they couldn’t find any reason for getting sued.
- Instead, they referred Najib’s lawyers to their legal representative in Singapore.
While Najib and his lawyers have since been quiet on the issue (probably applying calamine lotion), his deputy Muhyiddin has spoken up; urging Najib to personally reply to WSJ’s allegations and lending support to recently-suspended newspaper The Edge.
In the meantime, we’ll be prepared.