KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim filed a $28.5 million defamation suit Wednesday against the foreign minister for saying that Anwar had tried to bribe him to join his party.
Anwar's lawyer filed the lawsuit in the Kuala Lumpur High Court, seeking monetary damages and an order to prevent Foreign Minister Anifah Aman from repeating the claim. The suit names the Malaysian government as a co-defendant.
It seeks compensatory damages of 100 million ringgit ($28.5 million) and other unspecified punitive damages.
Anwar's three-party People's Alliance made unprecedented gains in general elections in March 2008, winning more than a third of the 222 parliamentary seats and five of 13 states.
Following the elections, Anwar said he would soon topple the government because many ruling National Front coalition lawmakers were ready to join his party. However, his claim never materialized.
Anifah told reporters during a trip to Washington earlier this month that Anwar had tried to "buy" National Front parliamentarians, including himself, to defect.
In his suit, Anwar said Anifah's claims were "of a most serious and damaging nature, recklessly and negligently made."
Anifah was not immediately available for comment but told reporters last week that he was too busy with his work to worry about Anwar's suit. He has said he stands by his comments, which were made during a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Anifah said he was offered a "very lucrative position" in a new government led by Anwar if he defected from the National Front.
Anwar himself is facing legal troubles. Last June, an aide claimed Anwar had sodomized him - a crime that is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The trial is scheduled to start in July.
Anwar was previously convicted of corruption and sodomy after being fired as deputy prime minister in a National Front government. Anwar denies the charge and claims it was politically motivated after a fallout with then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Anwar spent six years in jail before the sodomy conviction was overturned. - AP