Court rules ‘celaka Umno’ not seditious

RSN Rayer (second right) is seen hugging Gobind Singh Deo at the Penang Sessions Court after he was acquitted of a sedition charge over his ‘celaka Umno’ remark, April 29, 2016. ― Picture by KE Ooi
RSN Rayer (second right) is seen hugging Gobind Singh Deo at the Penang Sessions Court after he was acquitted of a sedition charge over his ‘celaka Umno’ remark, April 29, 2016. ― Picture by KE Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, April 29 ― The Sessions Court here acquitted and discharged today DAP lawmaker RSN Rayer of a sedition charge over his “celaka Umno” (Damn Umno) remark.

Justice Roslan Hamid said the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against the Seri Delima state assemblyman.

“While the prosecution has proved that he has said those words in a speech, it has failed to prove the seditious element as Umno is not a racial group but a political group,” he said when reading his decision today at the end of the prosecution's case.

The court also found that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against Rayer for an alternative charge, under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.

Rayer was charged under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948 for allegedly uttering “celaka Umno” during a Bukit Gelugor by-election ceramah at Jalan Delima on May 22, 2014.

He faced an alternative charge under Section 504 of the Penal Code for the offence.

In his decision, Roslan said there were two elements to consider in the case, first on whether the accused had spoken those words, and the second was to prove whether those words were seditious in nature.

He said the prosecution had called in six witnesses and successfully proved that Rayer had uttered the words he was accused of saying.

“In the second element, the prosecution must prove that he had uttered seditious words that could provoke a breach of the peace but in this case, the prosecution has failed to prove that the words 'celaka, celaka, celaka Umno' were seditious in nature,” he said.

As for the alternative charge, similarly Roslan said the prosecution had failed to prove that the words uttered about the Malay ruling party could provoke a breach of the peace.

“Therefore, I order that the accused be acquitted and discharged from the charges without his defence being called,” he said.

Outside the courtroom, lead counsel Gobind Singh Deo said the court decision has proven their earlier submissions that there were no seditious elements in what Rayer had said about Umno.

“I want to urge the Attorney-General to review the other sedition case against Rayer as we can clearly see, even the judge has decided there were no seditious elements in what he said,” he told reporters.

He also urged the AG to accept the court's decision and not to file an appeal.

Rayer is still facing another sedition charge for uttering a similar “celaka, celaka, celaka Umno” remark made on May 20, 2014, during the state legislative assembly sitting.

He was charged under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948 and is liable to be jailed up to five years or fined RM5,000 or both if found guilty.

The trial for this case started yesterday and a decision at the end of the prosecution's case is expected by June.

Related Articles