Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Hadi wins bid to quash suit on allegedly seditious remark

Judge says the suit is frivolous and an abuse of court process, and that the plaintiffs relied on an English reproduction of the article.

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PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang today succeeded in his bid to strike out an originating summons filed against him by two Sabahans over an allegedly seditious remark against Christians published in the Harakah newspaper five years ago.

High Court judge Akhtar Tahir, in his decision, allowed the application by Hadi to quash the suit filed by Maklin Masiau and Lawrence Jomiji Kinsil @ Maximilhian as the first and second plaintiffs, saying the suit has no locus standi and was frivolous and an abuse of court process.

“When I look at the originating summons, if anybody is to be blamed for seditious tendencies, they are the plaintiffs themselves. They (plaintiffs) have resurrected the matter which occurred in 2016 and made it a new issue.

“Therefore I’m allowing the defendant’s application to strike out the originating summons because it is frivolous and an abuse of the court process,” he said.

The judge also ordered each of the plaintiffs to pay Hadi punitive costs of RM50,000.

Akhtar said this was not public interest litigation so the plaintiffs could not hide behind the allegation that it was.

“It is a frivolous case which can choke the justice system with unnecessary litigation.

“(The phrase) ‘see you in court’ has now become a fashion statement. We shouldn’t allow it to bring frivolous action. For that, I’m going to impose RM50,000 costs against each of the plaintiffs to be paid to the defendant,” he said.

Akhtar further added that in this case, the copy of the Harakah article was not produced before the court.

“The court was led with a reproduction of the article in another publication which was fraught with danger because we don’t know what was actually said in the actual article.

“This reproduction is in English, it is not clear whether the original Harakah article was in English or another language,” he said.

The judge also said there was nothing in the purported remark allegedly given by the defendant that referred to the plaintiffs.

“Rather, it was referring to Christian missionaries. The plaintiffs did not represent themselves as Christian missionaries in this suit,” he said.

He said the plaintiffs also failed to show that the suit was filed because it involved public interest.

“A suit does not automatically become a matter of public interest just because it involves a public figure. The purported remark was made four years ago, it cannot be proven why and how it can become a matter of public interest now,” he said.

The plaintiffs were represented by lawyers R Kengadharan and Marcus Lee Min Lun while counsel Yusfarizal Yussoff and Adam Luqman Amdan acted for Hadi.

The plaintiffs filed the suit against Hadi on Dec 9, 2020, seeking a declaration that he is unfit to hold any position in the government, including that of a position equivalent to a ministerial post, given his statement in Harakah against Christians and Christian missionaries on Jan 18, 2016.

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