Bersih activist files suit to challenge law that criminalises offensive online posts

·2-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — A former Bersih deputy chairman is seeking to strike down a law that criminalises offensive online posts that cause annoyance.

News portal Malaysiakini reported that Sarajun Hoda Abdul Hassan will know on October 17 whether the Taiping High Court will hear his application to refer to the apex court over the constitutionality of Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

The 66-year-old activist is seeking to strike down Sections 233(1)(a) and 233(3) of the Act for allegedly contravening the fundamental rights stipulated under several provisions of the Federal Constitution.

These include the right to life and liberty under Article 5, the right to equality before the law under Article 8 and the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 10 of the Constitution.

The report said that the constitutional referral bid to the Federal Court was made after application before the High Court against an earlier decision of the Taiping Sessions Court.

The Sessions Court had dismissed his application to have the High Court look into the constitutionality of the impugned provisions.

Yesterday, Sarajun’s lead counsel Gurdial Singh Nijar had presented oral submissions for the applicant, while deputy public prosecutor Sariza Ismail submitted for the prosecution.

"Judge Noor Ruwena adjourned for the decision to be on Oct 17, 2022,” counsel Abraham Au told the online news portal.

Last year, Sarajun Hoda claimed trial in the Taiping Sessions Court for a charge under Section 233(1)(a) for allegedly posting insulting comments on social media. The case is still pending before the lower court.

Sarajun Hoda was accused of consciously making and initiating the transmission of offensive communications on Islam on his Facebook page between 9am and 12.52pm on April 26, which was read after about 9am at No 15, Jalan Wawasan 8, Taman Wawasan Jaya in Parit Buntar on April 27, 2021.

The charge provides for a fine not exceeding RM50,000 or jail time for up to one year, or both, if found guilty.

The accused is currently out on RM8,000 bail with one surety and his passport is currently being held by the court.