PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal here has ordered independent speaker Wan Ji Wan Hussin (pic) to begin serving his nine-month prison sentence from Monday (Sept 25) for publishing offensive words and insulting the Sultan of Selangor via Facebook 11 years ago.
This followed a unanimous decision by a panel of three judges led by Justice Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail to reinstate the Shah Alam Sessions Court's April 9, 2018 decision sentencing Wan Ji to nine months in prison for the offence, and dismiss his appeal against the conviction and sentence.
In reinstating the Sessions Court decision, Justice Hadhariah also set aside the decision of the Shah Alam High Court in July 2019 which sentenced Wan Ji, 41, to one year in prison.
She said Wan Ji's appeal had no merit because there was a lot of evidence showing that the appellant (Wan Ji) was the owner of the Facebook page concerned.
"Regarding the issue of punishment, the High Court judge has no reason to increase the (sentence).
"The sentence (of nine months' imprisonment) should have been upheld.
"Therefore, the court sets aside the one-year prison sentence handed down by the Shah Alam High Court against Wan Ji and reinstates the decision of the Shah Alam Sessions Court," said Justice Hadhariah, who sat with Justices Datuk Azman Abdullah and Datuk Azmi Ariffin.
On the claim of no offence in the Sedition Act 1948 by Wan Ji in his appeal, she said: "The words said in the appellant's Facebook are indeed inappropriate. If we are a genius in religious matters, we should not belittle others.
"If you (want to) give religious advice, say it using good words. Don't use inappropriate words, especially against the Sultan of Selangor, because now there are the 3Rs (religion, royalty, race). Be careful with these sensitive words."
Justice Hadhariah said freedom of speech does not give an absolute right to someone to speak at will as there are still limits that need to be maintained
"Don't offend others, be submissive. The more clever... you are, the more submissive you have to be. Don't belittle other people," said the judge.
At Monday’s proceedings, the prosecution was conducted by DPP How May Ling, while lawyer Muhammad Faiz Fadzil represented Wan Ji.
Wan Ji had appealed against the one-year prison sentence imposed by the Shah Alam High Court in July 2019 after it allowed the prosecution's cross-appeal to increase the nine-month jail term handed down by the Shah Alam Sessions Court on April 9, 2018.
Sessions Court judge Mohd Sabri Ismail imposed the initial sentence on Wan Ji after finding him guilty of publishing words that insulted Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah on Facebook under the name wanji.attaaduddi.
He was charged under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 which provides for a maximum fine of RM5,000 or imprisonment of not more than three years or both for the first offence, and to a maximum of five years' imprisonment for the second and subsequent offences. – Bernama