KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 — Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today called for the government to advise the Sultan of Selangor to pardon independent preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin and to repeal the Sedition Act 1948.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also cannot remain silent as he had previously issued a statement specifically on Wan Ji’s case, protesting the latter’s conviction for sedition by the High Court, said LFL director Zaid Malek in a statement published on the lawyers group’s website today.
“It is appalling and unacceptable that Wan Ji has now fallen victim to the repressive Sedition Act, an act notorious for its infringement of freedom of speech.
“Adding salt to the wound is that his imprisonment is under a Pakatan Harapan (PH) led government, who had previously championed the abolition of the Sedition Act,” he said.
He added that Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, who is also the state PH chairman, is a member of the Selangor Pardons Board by virtue of Article 42(4)(b) of the Federal Constitution and may advice the Selangor Sultan to exercise his powers of pardon.
Article 42(4)(b) of the Federal Constitution states that the Ruler of a state has the power to grant pardons on the advice of the Pardons Board of the same state.
Zaid added that the attorney general is also on the Selangor Pardons Board due to his role as the federal government and prime minister’s chief legal advisor.
“Irrespective of the words uttered in the facts of this case, Wan Ji must not be abandoned to languish in jail under the inhumane Sedition Act.
“That would be a black mark upon the nation and our justice system.
“Meanwhile, the PH-led government must move to table in parliament the repeal of the Sedition Act 1948 and consign it to the trash-heap of history,” he said.
Yesterday, national news agency Bernama reported that Wan Ji will begin serving his nine-month prison sentence for publishing offensive words and insulting the Sultan of Selangor on Facebook after the three-man panel led by Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail reportedly reinstated the earlier decision by the Shah Alam Sessions Court.
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.
On April 9, 2018, 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 his 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.