KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 18 — Convicted of sedition, social activist Adam Adli Abdul Halim scored a reduced sentence at the High Court today with a fine of RM5,000 instead of having to serve a year in jail.
Adam Adli was previously sentenced to a year in jail under Section 4 (1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948 for his May 13 remarks allegedly inciting the public to oust the Najib administration through street protests during a forum shortly after the May 5 general election that saw the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition narrowly retain its decades-long grip on power.
High Court judge Datuk Ab Karim Ab Rahman upheld the Sessions Court’s conviction ruling, but said the one-year jail term was “excessive” as Adam Adli’s speech did not result in “negative reactions” towards the government.
“And taking into account public importance in this case I feel that the sentence by the Sessions Court was excessive. I replace the sentence with a fine of RM5,000 in default of six months,” he said.
However, the High Court judge agreed with the Sessions Court judge’s ruling that the words uttered by Adam Adli had “seditious tendencies.”
“As I said before, even with criticism, not all criticism is clean, they can be seditious,” he said.
Lawyer Latheefa Koya who represented Adam Adli said she was glad her client escaped jail time, but added that the conviction was a bad precedent for student activists in Malaysia.
“The fact that a person can be convicted for bringing up criticism against the government or election fraud is a bad precedent and I think the Sedition Act has to go,” she told reporters outside the courtroom.
Sedition investigations have spiked to a seven-year high with 38 individuals investigated in 2015, 15 of whom were hauled to court.