KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 ― A High Court today sentenced Hishamuddin Md Rais to nine months in jail for sedition after allowing the prosecution's appeal for a more deterrent sentence than the RM5,000 fine the activist was given last year.
According to lawyer Syahredzan Johan, the court dismissed Hishamuddin's appeal on his conviction and allowed the prosecution's bid to set aside the activist's previous sentence, substituting it with the nine-month jail term.
“High Court also allowed for stay of execution pending appeal to the Court of Appeal with RM6,000 as bail,” the lawyer told Malay Mail Online via WhatsApp.
Asked for High Court judicial commissioner Datuk Nordin Hassan's reasons for enhancing Hishamuddin's sentence, Syahredzan said: “Public policy. What Hisham did was very serious. Must impose a deterrent sentence so that other people don't do it.”
On January 9 last year, the KL Sessions Court found Hishamuddin guilty of sedition for his 2013 speech and fined him RM5,000 in default of six months’ jail.
Judge Azman Mustapha, who took more than an hour to decide on the sentencing, said then that inciting the public to topple the government is a “serious offence”.
In his May 13 remarks, Hishamuddin and several other speakers had allegedly incited the public to overthrow the government through street protests during a forum shortly after the May 5 general election which saw Barisan Nasional (BN) retain power narrowly.
Hishamuddin and five others — politicians Chua Tian Chang, Tamrin Ghafar and activists Adam Adli Abdul Halim, Haris Ibrahim and Muhammad Safwan Anang — were charged in 2013 with sedition over remarks uttered at the same forum.
On September 5, 2013, Safwan was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment after the court found him guilty of making a speech with seditious tendency at the same forum.
This was followed by Adam Adli's conviction on September 19 — he was sentenced to a one-year in jail term for a speech at the same venue — in which he is said to have called for a change of government through undemocratic means.