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PH, Anwar morally bound to defend jailed PKR man Wan Ji, says lawyers group

Lawyers for Liberty recalls PH's stand against the Sedition Act and urges the Selangor government to advise for a pardon.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Independent speaker Wan Ji Wan Hussin.
Independent speaker Wan Ji Wan Hussin.

Lawyers group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today urged Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his government to speak in defence of PKR man Wan Ji Wan Hussin, who was sentenced to nine months in jail after the court dismissed his appeal against a conviction under the Sedition Act which Pakatan Harapan (PH) had challenged during its time in the opposition. 

In a statement, LFL said it was "appalling and unacceptable" that Wan Ji had been sentenced under the Sedition Act. 

"Adding salt to the wound is that his imprisonment is under a PH-led government, which previously championed the abolition of the Sedition Act," it said.

"It is the moral imperative and duty of PH, which promised repeal, to ensure that Wan Ji does not continue to endure imprisonment under this draconian law."

Wan Ji was sentenced to nine months in jail after the Sessions Court in 2018 found him guilty of publishing a Facebook post insulting Selangor ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah. 

He was told to begin serving his sentence yesterday, after the Court of Appeal reinstated the 2018 decision ordering him to spend nine months in prison and dismissing his appeal against his conviction and sentence. 
LFL director Zaid Malek said there was no basis or reasonable grounds to defend the Sedition Act which he added should have been repealed long ago. 

He said the Selangor government, which is led by PH and has a menteri besar from Wan Ji's party PKR, must "do the right thing and advise the ruler to pardon Wan Ji under Article 42 of the Federal Constitution".

"Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim also cannot remain indifferent and silent," he added. 

"When in opposition, Anwar had spoken up specifically in Wan Ji’s case."

He was referring to Anwar's remarks in 2019 that the revised one-year sentence handed down to Wan Ji by the Shah Alam High Court was "too harsh" and "inconsistent with democratic reforms". 

"Now Anwar as prime minister is in a position to redress the injustice done to Wan Ji. The attorney-general in his capacity as the federal government and prime minister’s chief legal adviser also sits as a member of the Selangor Pardons Board under Article 42(5) and must advise a grant of pardon in Wan Ji’s case," Zaid said.