Suit to challenge PAS president's appointment struck out

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang (File photo by Reuters)

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang (File photo by Reuters)

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KUALA LUMPUR (May 7): The High Court here today struck out a suit brought by two Sabahan Christians against PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang on the grounds that it was frivolous and an abuse of the court process.

The two Sabahan Christians Maklin Masiau and Lawrence Jomiji Kinsil @ Maximilhian had filed the suit based on an article that appeared on news portal Free Malaysia Today and not from the PAS mouthpiece Harakah that quoted Abdul Hadi.

High Court judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir said the duo should have produced the original article from Harakah — which is the subject of the complaint — and not the news portal’s article, which is a secondary source.

Furthermore, he added that after perusing the said article, Abdul Hadi was referring to Christian missionaries and not the Christian community in general.

“So this court deemed that the duo does not have the locus (legal standing) in instituting this legal action against the defendant, as Abdul Hadi was not referring to the Christian community,” the judge said.

Justice Akhtar also said while the country adopted a similar legal system with the British, not all common law could be adopted into the Malaysian legal system.

“This follows the UK system does not have a written constitution but Malaysia has a written Federal Constitution.

“We are bound by the Federal Constitution. If what is accused of Abdul Hadi is deemed seditious, then it would be the ambit of the Attorney-General to take action. 

“The appointment of the defendant is subject to the executive power and the judiciary cannot encroach into the power of the executive,” the judge said.

Justice Akhtar said he considers the suit frivolous and an abuse of the court process.

Judge: Case not public interest litigation, plaintiffs to pay RM100,000 in costs

“This is not a public interest litigation and costs should be awarded,” he said.

The judge said the phrase “see you in court”, which is usually perceived as a threat, is used today as a casual statement.

“Not everybody should bring a matter in court. As such, the court would like to impose punitive costs of RM50,000 each to be paid to the defendant,” the court said.

Abdul Hadi was represented by counsel Yusfarizal Yusoff while R Kenghadharan appeared for the two Sabahans.

It was previously reported that the duo filed the suit last December and sought to find Abdul Hadi guilty of violating Section 3 of the Sedition Act and a declaration that he is “unfit to hold any position in the government of Malaysia, including that of a position equivalent to a ministerial post”.

They claimed that the PAS president had made a seditious statement in the PAS newspaper Harakah against Christians and Christian missionaries on Jan 18, 2016.

They said they initiated the lawsuit because the public prosecutor had not charged Abdul Hadi for those remarks since 2016.

“This is a public interest litigation brought to vindicate the rule of law by reason of the fact that no other person including the public prosecutor has any intention of bringing any proceedings against the defendant,” Maklin and Lawrence, who described themselves as Christians, said in their originating summons.

In an affidavit filed in support of their lawsuit, the duo said the PAS president had made an “unfounded statement” and cast aspersions on Christians and Christian missionaries, further saying that Abdul Hadi’s statement “has affected the Christian community in the country and thus has become a matter of public interest”.

Kenghadharan when met said he would take instructions from his clients on whether to file an appeal.

Lam Jian Wyn