PUTRAJAYA: Independent preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin today began a nine-month jail term for committing sedition against the sultan of Selangor in 2012.
This came about after the Court of Appeal dismissed his final appeal against the conviction and allowed the sessions court’s sentence to be reinstated.
“We now issue a warrant of committal for the appellant to begin his jail term,” said Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail, who chaired the three-man bench hearing the case.
Wan Ji, who was also a former aide to then Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng, had been on bail pending the outcome of his appeal.
Hadhariah, who sat with Justices Azman Abdullah and Azmi Ariffin, said Wan Ji’s appeal had no merit.
“There is nothing unconstitutional about the Sedition Act,” she said in reference to Wan Ji’s challenge to the legality of the law.
The judge also said that although the Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, the words uttered by Wan Ji were inappropriate.
Hadhariah, who is scheduled to retire soon, advised Wan Ji to remain humble always and not to undermine others.
“Even if one is more knowledgeable in religious matters, any criticism must remain polite,” she said.
The judge said the right to free speech is not absolute and must be exercised carefully.
“We have to be careful when touching on race, religion and royalty,” she added.
According to Hadhariah, the bench was setting aside the enhanced sentence imposed by the High Court, noting that the High Court had not found the trial court’s sentence to be inadequate in the circumstances of the case.
Deputy public prosecutors How May Ling and Aida Khairuleen Azli represented the prosecution while lawyer Faiz Fadzil appeared for Wan Ji.
On April 9, 2018, the sessions court in Shah Alam sentenced the preacher to jail after he was found guilty of committing sedition against Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah
The charge was over a 2012 Facebook post about the Selangor sultan.
Wan Ji appealed against the conviction, while the prosecution cross-appealed to enhance the sentence.
On July 9, 2019, the High Court in Shah Alam enhanced Wan Ji’s jail term to one year.
Wan Ji was charged under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act, which carries a maximum jail term of three years as well as a maximum fine of RM5,000.
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