KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has struck out a lawsuit filed by two Sabahans against PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang over an alleged seditious statement against Christianity.
High Court judge Justice Akhtar Tahir allowed Abdul Hadi's application to strike out the originating summons filed by Maklin Masiau and Lawrence Jomiji Kinsil @ Maximilhian, who are the first and second plaintiffs respectively, on grounds that the suit was frivolous and an abuse of the court process.
In his decision, Justice Akhtar said the plaintiffs had failed to produce primary evidence in the form of a Harakah article – where Abdul Hadi was said to have made the statement – and produced secondary evidence, which was a reproduction of the said article from a news portal.
The judge said the court was led with the secondary document, which he described as "fraught with danger", as it would not be able to determine what was actually said in the original article.
"The reproduction is in English and it is not clear whether the original Harakah article was in English or in another language," he added.
Justice Akhtar also said the secondary evidence did not show proof that the remarks made by Abdul Hadi were against Christianity.
"(There was) nothing about (the) Christian religion. If the article was an accurate reproduction, it was against Christian missionaries who pay money to convert people.
"That is the gist of the (reproduced) article," he said.
The court also ruled that the plaintiffs had no locus standi in the case.
Justice Akhtar also pointed out that the plaintiffs had revived an issue dating back to 2016.
"In fact, if anybody is to be blamed for seditious tendencies, it is the plaintiffs themselves.
"They resurrected it to make it a new issue. Therefore, I am allowing the defendant's application to strike out this originating summons," he added.
The court also imposed punitive costs of RM50,000 on each plaintiff to be paid to Abdul Hadi," he said.
He added that the litigation was not a public interest issue so parties involved cannot use the argument to avoid paying costs.
"Frivolous cases can choke the justice system with unnecessary litigation.
"It seems the fashion nowadays is to use the phrase 'see you in court'. We should not allow frivolous cases to be brought to court," he added.
On Dec 9, Maklin and Lawrence filed the lawsuit over Abdul Hadi's statement which was published in Harakah on Jan 18,2016.
The duo claimed that the statement was then reported by online news portal Free Malaysia Today on the same day.
In the lawsuit, the duo sought a declaration that Abdul Hadi committed an act contrary to Section 3 of the Sedition Act 1948.
They sought a declaration that the defendant was unfit to hold any position in the government of Malaysia, including any position equivalent to a ministerial post.
On April 20,2020, the Perikatan Nasional government appointed Abdul Hadi as a special envoy to the Middle East with the rank of a minister.
In their statement of claim, they said Abdul Hadi's statement had cast aspersions on the Christian community in Malaysia.
"It has been more than four years since the defendant issued this... statement but no prosecution has been brought," they said.
The plaintiffs were represented by lawyers R. Kengadharan and Marcus Lee while Abdul Hadi was represented by lawyers Yusfariza Yussoff and Adam Luqman Amdan.