Wan Ji starts jail sentence for royal insult

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal here has ordered independent preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin (pic) to begin serving his nine-month prison sentence for publishing offensive words and insulting the Selangor Sultan via Facebook 11 years ago.

This followed a unanimous decision by a three-judge panel led by Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail to reinstate the Shah Alam Sessions Court’s decision to sentence Wan Ji to nine months in prison for the offence and dismiss his appeal against the conviction and sentence.

In reinstating the Shah Alam Sessions Court’s 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 was the owner of the Facebook page, Bernama reported.

“Regarding the issue of punishment, the High Court judge has no reason to increase the punishment. The sentence 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 Justice Azman Abdullah and Azmi Ariffin.

“The words said on the appellant’s Facebook are indeed inappropriate. If we are geniuses in religious matters, we should not belittle others.

“If you 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. Be careful with these sensitive words,” she said, referring to race, religion and royalty.

Justice Hadhariah said freedom of speech does not give an absolute right to someone to speak at will, and there should be limits that need to be maintained.

“Don’t offend others; be submissive. The more clever or genius you are, the more submissive you have to be. Don’t belittle other people,” said the judge.

In yesterday’s proceedings, the prosecution was conducted by deputy public prosecutor 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 allowing the prosecution’s cross-appeal to increase the nine-month prison sentence handed down by the Shah Alam Sessions Court on April 9, 2018.

Then, Sessions Court judge Mohd Sabri Ismail sentenced Wan Ji to nine months in jail after finding him guilty of publishing words that insulted the 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, imprisonment of not more than three years or both for the first offence and a maximum of five years imprisonment for the second and subsequent offences, upon conviction.

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