KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — The High Court today found Umno politician Datuk Lokman Noor Adam as having committed contempt of court after he uttered the word “stupid” during court proceedings, but issued him with a final warning without ordering any punishments against him.
This is because Lokman apologised to the court after being found guilty.
High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah decided: “Well, in light of the unreserved apology tendered, this court takes the view the contemnor has purged his contempt. Under the circumstances, the court issues a final warning that this incident is not to repeat itself here and therefore excuses the contemnor and no further action be taken against him.”
In this contempt of court case, Lokman was alleged to have called a court police officer “stupid” after the latter asked him to stop using his handphone during court proceedings on June 30 in Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s trial. Ahmad Zahid’s trial was being heard before Sequerah.
Following court procedures under Order 52 Rule 2A of Rules of Court 2012, Lokman was earlier today given the opportunity to explain himself.
Lokman took the oath and sought to give his own account of what had happened on June 30, claiming to be using his handphone to take down notes of Ahmad Zahid’s trial and asserting that it was in airplane mode.
Lokman said Lance Corporal Walter — a police officer stationed in the courtroom — then approached him and asked him not to use the handphone, adding that he had shown that he was taking notes with the handphone but was told that he could not do so.
Lokman said he had pointed out to the police officer that another person in court was using laptop to take down notes.
Lokman told the court today that he believed that handphones were not allowed due to disruptions from phone calls or ringtones if the phone was not silenced or when phones were used to take photographs or videos.
Claiming to have been told by the police officer that note-taking through handphones was not allowed, Lokman said he had then turned to his friend who was sitting next to him to “merungut” (grumble), claiming to have been “mumbling” the words: “I said this is stupid, taking using laptops allowed, taking using handphones not allowed.”
“So I only expressed my disappointment because I was confident there is no law that says can take notes using laptop, but cannot take notes using handphone. I had no intention at all to call Lance Corporal Walter stupid,” he claimed.
Lokman claimed that he would only need to whisper to his friend if he was seated next to him, but said that his friend was seated apart due to social distancing requirements and that was why his remark using the word “stupid” could be heard by both his friend and the police officer.
“So that’s why I feel that the accusation which said I had committed contempt of court is not true at all, because I did not disrupt the court, I did not make the remark that Walter is stupid, I only merungut. But because I don’t want this to be prolonged, because the more important focus is Zahid’s case, I apologised to Walter and wrote to Yang Arif explaining the story and apologised so that this matter is not prolonged,” he said.
While Lokman’s lawyer K. Balaguru urged the court to issue a warning for all to comply with court procedures, Lokman later at one point said: “I feel if my action of grumbling to my friend does not interrupt the court, how can it be considered contempt of court?”
With the judge highlighting the seemingly different stand between Lokman and his lawyers on whether there was contempt of court, Balaguru then asked for a few minutes to explain the matter to his client.
Upon questioning subsequently by Balaguru, Lokman confirmed he had said the word “stupid” in court and agreed it is rude to say the word “stupid” to anyone.
Judge Sequerah then made a finding on whether Lokman had committed contempt, saying: “Having heard the contemnor, and after considering all circumstances, this court finds the contemnor to have committed contempt in the face of the court.”
The judge then cited court procedures for a contempt case, saying that the question is whether Lokman wants to clear his contempt by offering an unreserved apology, with the alternative being that the court shall sentence Lokman over the contempt of court.
Under Order 52 Rule 2A(3), when a person has purged his contempt by tendering his unreserved apology to the court and where the judge considers the contempt to be not of a serious nature, the judge may excuse such a person and no further action shall be taken against the person.
Under Order 52 Rule 2A(4), if a person who has committed contempt declines or refuses to purge his contempt, the judge shall sentence him.
Lokman then offered his apology: “Yang Arif, I apologise because I don’t understand the law, I don’t know the law. So, with this, I apologise voluntarily, with a pure heart, without any conditions, to Yang Arif, the court and all who are involved. Thank you.
“And Yang Arif, I promise — as I have said just now — I will ensure this does not repeat again, and if I enter others’ places or other courts, I will follow the rules set by the court. Thank you.”
Following Lokman’s apology, the judge then let him off with a final warning and said no further action will be taken against him.
Earlier just before Lokman could start explaining himself, his lawyer Singara Velan had raised a preliminary objection to the contempt of court case, including to argue that there was no contempt in the face of court in his client’s case.
Singara also argued there was miscarriage of justice in an earlier proceeding on July 4, saying Lokman was not told of his options to either explain himself on oath and be cross-examined, or to give an unsworn statement or remain silent as he had appeared without a lawyer then. Sequerah pointed out however that he had repeatedly asked Lokman whether he wanted to be represented by lawyers and that the latter is now represented by lawyers.
Sequerah dismissed the preliminary objection, saying that the June 30 event did amount to contempt in the face of court. In dismissing the preliminary objection, the judge said Lokman was given a show cause notice and was given an opportunity to explain himself in his own defence, and that this was in compliance with the Rules of Court and that there was no miscarriage of justice.
Sequerah had then ordered for the contempt proceedings to go on with Lokman to explain himself, which resulted in the latter apologising after being found guilty of contempt of court.
Deputy public prosecutor Izalina Abdullah assisted the High Court today in the contempt of court proceedings.