KOTA KINABALU: A politician was jailed 16 months after changing his plea and admitting to sedition for insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad in a Facebook posting.
Kota Kinabalu Hight Court Deputy Registrar Zairi Zainal Abidin, who sat as Sessions Court Judge, ordered the jail term against 50-year-old David Orok to run from Tuesday after dismissing his application for a stay of execution on the sentence.
David was charged under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act for insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad in a Facebook posting while at his house in Tuaran near here on July 4.
He had initially pleaded not guilty to the charge and his trial was supposed to begin on Tuesday.
The Court was told that a police report had been lodged by a woman after she received a WhatsApp message containing a screenshot of Orok's Facebook posting.
It was one the 46 police reports lodged against Orok, a State Reform Party member, after his Facebook posting went viral.
Pressing for a deterrent sentence, senior federal counsel Jamil Aripin said belittling any religion indicated the person concerned had no sense of mutual respect nor good social behaviour.
"What the accused has done is clearly divergent to the Rukun Negara and Federal Constitution," he said.
He said individuals who chose to post opinions or statements that were incompatible with the nation's values should not be spared.
"Such postings and remarks incite religious and racial hatred, which is capable of causing violence and distrust among the diverse races and religions in Malaysia," Jamil added.
David's counsel Hendry Gudid, appealing for a lenient sentence, said his client regretted his actions and had posted an apology on his Facebook page.
He said David's passion was intellectual debate among his family and friends and used platforms like Facebook for such discourse.
"This matter was blown out of proportion," Hendry added.