Kit Siang backs upholding the law, but says 10-year jail term for insult excessive

Lim said the case highlighted social media’s volatility and the toxic culture permeating the platform. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Lim said the case highlighted social media’s volatility and the toxic culture permeating the platform. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 — DAP’s Lim Kit Siang said today all Malaysians must uphold the Constitution through mutual respect for each other’s faith, but felt a Sessions Court’s decision to impose a 10-year jail sentence on a man who insulted Islam was excessive.

“All Malaysians must uphold the Constitution and respect all religions in Malaysia,” the Iskandar Puteri MP said in a statement.

“But there must be no excessive punishments like the 10-year jail sentence by the Kuching Sessions Court for a social media holder for insulting Islam and Prophet Muhammad.”

A man was sentenced to more than 10 years’ jail and three others were charged over insults against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad on social media, police said on Saturday.

The sentence is believed to be the harshest such penalty on record in the Muslim-majority country, where concerns over racial and religious tensions have grown in recent months.

Lim said the case highlighted social media’s volatility and the toxic culture permeating the platform, where most information tends to be negative and consumed without verification.

He urged Malaysians to be more vigilant and adopt a “healthy attitude of scepticism and cynicism.”

“Ask the important question with regard to every message, “Is this true”, and to check on the veracity of the message before sharing it with the others,” he said.

“If Malaysians, whether Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans or Orang Asli... check on the veracity of each and every message, they will not fall victim to the vicious and toxic politics of lies, hate, fear, race and religion currently prevailing in the country.”

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said in a statement yesterday the person, who was not identified, had pleaded guilty to 10 charges of misusing communication networks.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail or a fine of up to RM50,000 or both.

The sentence was meted out consecutively, Mohamad Fuzi said.