The Putrajaya Court of Appeal today ordered independent speaker Wan Ji Wan Hussin to begin serving his nine-month prison sentence today for publishing offensive words and insulting the Sultan of Selangor via Facebook 11 years ago.
This followed a unanimous decision by a panel of three judges led by Hadhariah Syed Ismail to reinstate the Shah Alam Sessions Court's decision, made on April 9, 2018, 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, judge 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 (Wan Ji) was the owner of the Facebook page.
"Regarding the issue of punishment, the high court judge has no reason to increase the punishment. The sentence (of nine months' imprisonment) 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 judge Hadhariah, who sat with judges 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 (want to) 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 (religion, royalty, and race). Be careful with these sensitive words," she added.
Judge Hadhariah said freedom of speech does not give an absolute right for someone to speak at will, as there are still 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 today'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.
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 page 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 a maximum of five years imprisonment for the second and subsequent offences.