Court allows PKR MP’s third challenge on sedition charge for YouTube comment

With this appeal, Surendran will now have three challenges against his charge heard by the High Court. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng
With this appeal, Surendran will now have three challenges against his charge heard by the High Court. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — The High Court granted today PKR MP N. Surendran’s appeal to challenge his sedition charge over a comment he had posted on video-sharing website YouTube last year that was critical of the government.

Judge Ab Karim Ab Rahman agreed with Surendran’s defence lawyers that the question of intent in the sedition case was a constitutional matter that must be heard at the High Court.

Lawyer Latheefa Koya, representing Surendran, said Section 3 of the colonial-era law disregards the intention of the offence, which was unconstitutional.

“When you have an offence you must have two elements, one is the act, one is the intention, so not having that, is certainly a constitutional issue, because under the constitution, it is guaranteed that we have to have a fair hearing and a fair trial,” she told reporters outside of the court.

With this appeal, Surendran will now have three challenges against his charge heard by the High Court.

The other two challenges that were previously approved by the Sessions Court he was charged in questions the constitutionality of the Act.

The defence’s arguments are that the legislation was not passed in Parliament but has been in place before Independence in 1957; and that the law is extreme in restricting a person’s rights.

Surendran was charged with sedition in the Sessions Court on August 28, 2014 for a YouTube comment in which he allegedly criticised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for purportedly mounting a political conspiracy against former opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The Padang Serai MP is also a lawyer who had represented Anwar in the PKR politician’s second sodomy case.

“I am the defendant in this case, and I am also defending many other politicians, activists, who are facing sedition charges. And again, I call upon the government to repeal the Sedition Act completely,” Surendran told reporters today.

“We will never stop fighting for this. No matter what the consequence is to us personally, myself, and others who are facing charges, we will never stop fighting for a better Malaysia, and a Malaysia that is free of oppressive laws,” he added.

March 7 was fixed for the hearing of the three challenges.

Surendran is also facing a separate sedition charge over a press release he issued titled “Fitnah II is flawed, defensive and insupportable” on April 14, 2014, also in relation to Anwar’s second sodomy case.

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