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4-month jail sentence for cartoon against PM too harsh, say lawyers

 | November 17, 2017

Lawyers for Liberty say authorities are acting in an overzealous manner while Zaid Ibrahim says sentence is disproportionate to offence.

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Paulsen says the authorities were acting in an overzealous manner to protect the image of the prime minister.

PETALING JAYA: The four-month jail sentence meted out against a factory worker for posting a cartoon deemed insulting to the prime minister is harsh, lawyers said today.

In commenting on the sentence against Mohamad Hamizan Ghazali, 24, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) executive director Eric Paulsen said the authorities were acting in an overzealous manner to protect the image of the prime minister.

“While whatever he had posted may be rude, it should not be criminalised to the point that he is jailed.

“The authorities should have considered his constitutional right to freedom of speech as after all, what real harm has he done?” Paulsen told FMT.

Paulsen said that by investigating and prosecuting such trivial matters, the authorities were wasting valuable resources that should be used to tackle online crimes.

He questioned what the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) was doing regarding the massive personal data breach and asked why they were not focusing on such serious matters.

“This should be their primary concern, rather than pursuing petty social media postings,” he said.

The Star reported today that Hamizan was jailed four months by the Petaling Jaya magistrate’s court for posting the cartoon, deemed insulting to the prime minister.

Magistrate Mohd Azali Ibrahim had ordered the sentence to run from Hamizan’s date of arrest on Nov 12.

Hamizan had pleaded guilty to uploading to his Facebook account the cartoon which had an obscene caption at a house in Taman Paya Rumput Perdana, Melaka Tengah, Melaka, between Oct 20 and 22.

Zaid concurred that the sentence was harsh and disproportionate to the offence.

Zaid concurred that the sentence was harsh and disproportionate to the offence.

He was charged under Section 233(3) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, which carries a maximum one year’s jail, RM50,000 fine, or both.

Former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim also concurred that the sentence was harsh and disproportionate to the offence.

“Obviously, the magistrate has not been well trained by the system. Posting a cartoon of a PM deserves no more than a RM100 fine, if at all.

“A judge somewhere should revise this sentence. It is totally disproportionate to the offence,” he added.


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