KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — Muslim preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin claimed trial today to a sedition charge for having allegedly insulted the Sultan of Selangor in a Facebook post.
The 32-year-old preacher was accused of posting allegedly seditious words against the ruler on his Facebook page on November 5, 2012, The Star Online reported.
He supposedly committed the offence at about 10am, at the fifth floor of Bangunan Sultan Salehuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, in Section 5, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Wan Ji was represented by lawyer Mohd Radzlan Jalal while Mohd Azhari Harun acted for the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
Shah Alam Sessions Court judge Slamat Yahya fixed bail for Wan Ji at RM5,000 and October 10 for the next mention.
The preacher, linked to the PAS opposition party, is the latest to fall under the hammer of a sedition crackdown that has seen at least 15 people investigated or charged under the Sedition Act in the space of a month.
Cabinet ministers have defended the crackdown and said the arrests were necessary before racial and religious tension in the country escalate.
Putrajaya recently embarked on a sedition crackdown, hauling up at least 15 anti-government dissidents and opposition politicians under the colonial-era law in the space of one month.
The sudden onslaught of sedition action has also led to renewed calls for the repeal of the colonial-era law, with politicians and activist groups taking up arms to mobilise nationwide campaigns in hopes of pressuring Putrajaya into fulfilling its 2012 pledge to do away with the law.
But critics believe the government is deliberately dithering on the promise due to pressure from strong right wing elements within Umno and its supporters, who want the Act to stay.
Defenders of the Sedition Act, primarily pro-establishment conservatives including former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, contend that its removal will open the floodgates of attacks against the Bumiputera, Islam, and the Malay rulers in the absence of the repealed Internal Security Act (ISA).
Those pushing for the law to be eliminated, however, insist that its ambit is too broad, as it criminalises speech with an undefined “seditious tendency” and without need to prove intent.