Gardener jailed 2 months for insulting Agong on Facebook

Judge MM Edwin Paramjothy, in handing down the sentence, regrets that people with smartphones were expressing extreme and abusive opinions online.

KUALA LUMPUR: A gardener was sentenced to two months’ jail by the Sessions Court here today for insulting the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on his Facebook page.

Judge MM Edwin Paramjothy handed down the sentence on Sharil Mohd Sarif, 36, after he pleaded guilty to the charge.

Sharil, initially pleaded not guilty when he was first charged on March 22, but changed his plea to guilty on April 8 and his appeal was also heard on the same day.

The court had fixed today for sentencing.

The father of four children, aged between five and 12, was ordered to serve the sentence from the date of arrest on March 15.

In sentencing, Edwin said attacks on the constitutional monarchy should be taken seriously, especially in this country where the people have a deep respect for the monarchy.

“Such cases often raise the question of freedom of expression and the interests of the government in protecting public order and strengthening unity.

“Technological advancement means anyone who has a smartphone can be a critic who can spread opinions on social media very quickly.

“But this has led them to express their opinions without filtering and they can be very extreme and abusive.

“Although I agree with the deputy public prosecutor that a severe sentence will reflect on the seriousness of the offence and will serve as a warning to the offender, the focus of sentencing should also be on rehabilitation,” he said.

Sharil was accused of using the Facebook profile “Shahril Chain” to initiate transmission of communication which was offensive in character and with intent to annoy others.

The posting was read at the Cyber Crime and Multimedia Investigation Division, Commercial Crime Investigation Department, Bukit Aman police headquarters, 27th floor, Menara KPJ, Wangsa Maju, here at 11.30am on March 13.

He was charged under Section 233 (1) (a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, which provides a maximum fine of RM50,000 or imprisonment for up to a year, or both, upon conviction and a fine of RM1,000 for every day that the offence is repeated after conviction.

The prosecution was conducted by deputy public prosecutor Asyraf Md Kamal while Sharil was represented by counsel M Dinesh.