Lawsuit against Hadi over ‘act of sedition’ struck out

KUALA LUMPUR: PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang (pic) has succeeded in his application to strike out a lawsuit filed against him by two Christian Sabahans who accused him of making a seditious statement on their religion.

This followed a decision by High Court judge Justice Akhtar Tahir who allowed Abdul Hadi’s application to strike out the originating summons filed by Maklin Masiau and Lawrence Jomiji Kinsil @ Maximilhian – the first and second plaintiffs respectively – on grounds that the suit was frivolous and an abuse of court process.

In his brief 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 the plaintiffs produced secondary evidence which was a reproduction of said article in a news portal.

The judge said the court was led with the secondary document, which he described as “fraught with danger”, as the court would not be able to determine what was actually said in the original article.

“The reproduction is in English and it’s not clear whether the original Harakah article was in English or in another language, ” he said here yesterday.

The judge said the secondary evidence did not show proof that the remarks made by Abdul Hadi were against Christianity.

“It was nothing about the Christian religion. If the article was an accurate reproduction, it is against Christian missionaries who pay money to convert people.

“That is the gist of the (reproduced) article, ” he added.

Justice Akhtar said the plaintiffs had no locus standi in the case and that they had “resurrected” the comments made by Abdul Hadi in 2016.

“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’m allowing the defendant’s application to strike out this originating summons, ” he said.

The court also imposed a punitive cost of RM50,000 to each of the plaintiffs to be paid to Abdul Hadi.

“This is not a public interest litigation so parties cannot hide behind ‘public interest’ and need not have costs paid.

“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 last year, Maklin and Lawrence filed the suit against Abdul Hadi over his statement in Harakah on Jan 18,2016.

The Sabahans claimed that the statement was then reported by online news portal Free Malaysia Today on the same day.

The duo sought a declaration that Abdul Hadi had committed an act of sedition contrary to Section 3 of the Sedition Act 1948.

They were also seeking a declaration that the defendant is unfit to hold any position in the government of Malaysia, including that of a position equivalent to a ministerial post.

(On April 20,2020, the Perikatan Nasional government appointed Abdul Hadi a special envoy to the Middle East with the rank of minister.)

In their statement of claim, the plaintiffs 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 seditious statement but no prosecution has been brought against the defendant, ” they said.

The plaintiffs were represented by Marcus Lee and R. Kengadharan while Abdul Hadi was represented by Yusfariza Yussoff and Adam Luqman Amdan.

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