‘Stay all sedition trials pending court verdict’

-A +A

KUALA LUMPUR: All sedition trials should be stayed pending the outcome of Universiti Malaya law professor Dr Azmi Sharom’s constitutional challenge against the Sedition Act, his lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said.

“I call upon the Attorney-General to consider directing all prosecutions under the Sedition Act to be stayed,” he said.

Gobind said there should be equality and if the A-G, who is also the public prosecutor, did not object, there was no reason for other cases involving the same charge to be put to trial either.

“Further, all these proceedings would be a nullity in the event Azmi is successful in the High Court,” he said in a statement.

Gobind, who is Puchong MP, said this in response to the adjournment of Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) president Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman’s sedition trial in the Kajang Sessions Court yesterday, pending the outcome of Azmi’s application.

The deputy public prosecutor in Abdullah’s trial, Mohd Abazafree Mohd Abbas, said he had no objections to the adjournment.

Abdullah was charged with allegedly calling the Chinese community “trespassers” when they were brought to Malaya by the British as labourers. He also questioned the citizenship and wealth given to them.

Azmi’s contention that Section 4 of the Sedition Act was unconstitutional will be heard over two days from Nov 6.

The law professor was charged last month with sedition over his comments in a news article titled “Take Perak crisis route for speedy end to Selangor impasse, Pakatan told”.

He and Abdullah face a maximum fine of RM5,000, a maximum jail term of three years, or both, if convicted.

Gobind said all should respect the High Court, which had been asked to consider the matter.

“We should wait for that outcome before pushing ahead with prosecutions in other cases,” he said.

Lawyer N Surendran and Seri Muda assemblyman Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei have mounted a similar constitutional challenge.

About 20 individuals are facing charges under the colonial era law, which critics claim is being used to stifle dissent and silence opposition leaders.

In a Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court, activist Hishamuddin Md Rais was ordered yesterday to enter his defence for a seditious speech made at a gathering in the city last year.

Sessions Court Judge Azman Mustapha said the prosecution had established a prima case against the accused.

Hishamuddin, represented by Syahredzan Johan, said he would give evidence from the witness box, an option available to accused persons.

Azman then adjourned hearing to Nov 13. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 14, 2014.