KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — The Sessions Court today found activist Adam Adli Abdul Halim guilty of sedition and sentenced him to one year in jail for a speech last year in which he is said to have called for a change of government through undemocratic means.
Adam was charged on May 23 for his May 13 remarks allegedly inciting the public to overthrow the government through street protests during a forum shortly after the May 5 general election which saw Barisan Nasional retain power narrowly.
For first-time offenders like Adam, a conviction under Section 4 (1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948 carries a maximum jail term of three years or a fine of up to RM5,000 or both.
“We have obtained a stay order on the basis that we will be appealing against the sentence and conviction,” Adam’s lawyer, Latheefa Koya, told reporters outside the courtroom.
Adam was released after he posted a RM5,000 bail with one surety today.
In court earlier, Latheefa had argued to lighten her client’s sentence, saying Adam is now a law student and had a long future ahead of him as he was still young.
Latheefa also said the youth’s speech over a year ago had not resulted in any violence or victims, adding that his speech was merely a “genuine concern” shared by the public on alleged electoral fraud during the 2013 elections.
But Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohamad Abazafree Mohd Abbas argued that Adam’s speech threatened public peace and had portrayed the government as cruel, also saying that he should not have used unlawful methods and incited the public to overthrow the government as he was educated and well-read.
“If the court cannot impress a serious sentence, portray the public’s bad impression to sedition, it will not be acceptable by the public,” Abazafree told a packed courtroom.
N. Surendran, another lawyer representing Adam, disputed the prosecutor’s arguments, saying that there is instead a “public outrage” on the multiple prosecutions under the Sedition Act, with the Bar Council’s Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) set to vote on a resolution condemning the colonial-era law.
The Attorney-General had himself taken into account this “public sentiment” against the Sedition Act when the top prosecutor said earlier this month that he will review cases under this law, Surendran said.
Sessions Court judge Mat Ghani Abdullah did not give the grounds of his judgement today.
Adam and five others — politicians Chua Tian Chang, Tamrin Ghafar and activists Hishamuddin Rais, Haris Ibrahim and Muhammad Safwan Anang — were charged last year with sedition over remarks uttered at the same forum.
On September 5, Safwan was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment after the court found him guilty of making a speech with seditious tendency at the same forum.