KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy today expressed disappointment over the Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold graphic artist Fahmi Reza’s conviction under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for uploading a clown-face caricature of then-prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak onto his social media account.
“Article 10 of the Federal Constitution provides for freedom of expression which can and should only be limited in circumstances where it poses a threat to national security,” he said in a statement today.
Sevan said it was absurd to argue that the political satire by Fahmi can pose a threat to national security and that the initial charges made against him in 2016 was a clear act intended to silence dissent.
“The Attorney General Chambers and the Pakatan Harapan administration must answer for the continued failure to uphold freedom of expression as promised by the Pakatan Harapan manifesto.
“Pakatan Harapan did not start the prosecution, but they will be accountable for their failures to stand and defend the freedom of expression as enshrined within Article 10 of the Federal Constitution,” he added.
The appeal was struck off in a unanimous decision yesterday by a three-member Court of Appeal bench led by Justice Kamardin Hashim, who sat with Justices Kamaludin Md Said and Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah.
Kamardin said the panel found that the appeal by Fahmi had no merit and upheld the conviction and sentence imposed by the High Court which, he said, were supported by the testimony of prosecution witnesses.
Fahmi, 41, was charged with improper use of network facilities by creating communication that was offensive with an intention to annoy other people through his Facebook account, “Fahmi Reza” on February 8, 2016.
He was charged under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588), punishable under Section 233(3) of the same Act, which carries a maximum fine of RM50,000, or jail not exceeding one year or both on conviction.
The prosecution had filed an appeal against the November 12, 2018 decision of the Ipoh High Court in setting aside Fahmi’s one-month jail sentence and reducing his fine from RM30,000 to RM10,000 after allowing his appeal on the sentence.
Fahmi also filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal to set aside the conviction.
On January 15 this year, the prosecution withdrew its appeal for a higher sentence against Fahmi Reza after his appeal to quash the conviction.
On February 20 last year, the Ipoh Sessions Court sentenced Fahmi to one month jail and fined him RM30,000 after finding him guilty of the charge.