After Sabahans’ lawsuit struck out, Hadi’s lawyer says attempt to portray PAS president as religious zealot against Christianity failed

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang waves at reporters at  the 2020 Umno general assembly in Kuala Lumpur March 28, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang waves at reporters at the 2020 Umno general assembly in Kuala Lumpur March 28, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — The High Court’s decision to strike out a lawsuit by two Sabahans against PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang would mean that an alleged attempt to smear his reputation has failed, his lawyer said today.

Hadi’s lawyer Yusfarizal Yusoff said the legal team welcomes and applauds the High Court’s decision today, which he said was “without a doubt well-reasoned”.

“Alhamdulillah, the attempt to smear the reputation of Tuan Guru by portraying himself to be a religious zealot against Christianity particularly the Christian community in Malaysia has failed,” he told reporters in a brief written comment, referring to Hadi as Tuan Guru.

Yusfarizal also argued that the two Sabahans had filed the lawsuit for political mileage.

“Not only that this suit was filed for political mileage, it has also abused the process of the court by urging the court to disregard the fundamental doctrine of separation of power by demanding the court to impose the wishes of the plaintiffs on the executive’s discretionary powers in executive appointments. 

“The plaintiffs had also sought to usurp the powers of the office of the AG in seeking a criminal conviction against Tuan Guru in a civil court which is against the fabric of our democratic ideal,” he argued in his brief comment.

Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang's lawyer Yusfarizal Yusoff (pic) is pictured at Kuala Lumpur High Court May 7, 2021. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang's lawyer Yusfarizal Yusoff (pic) is pictured at Kuala Lumpur High Court May 7, 2021. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

Earlier today, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur had allowed Hadi to strike out the lawsuit by the two Sabahans who had sought to declare him as unfit for any government posts over his alleged seditious remark in 2016, ordering the duo to pay the PAS leader a combined total of RM100,000 in costs.

On December 9, 2020, two Christian Sabahan men — Maklin Masiau and Lawrence Jomiji Kinsil @ Maximilhian — filed the lawsuit against Hadi as a public interest case.

In their lawsuit filed via an originating summons, the two Sabahans claimed that Hadi had made a seditious statement in PAS newspaper Harakah against Christians and Christian missionaries on January 18, 2016, and said they had filed the lawsuit as the public prosecutor had not charged Hadi for these remarks after four years.

In the lawsuit, the two Sabahans were seeking two specific court orders, namely a declaration that Hadi had committed a seditious act in breach of Section 3 of the Sedition Act and a declaration that Hadi is not fit to hold any position in the Malaysian government, including a position equivalent to a ministerial position.

On April 12, 2020, Hadi was appointed as the prime minister’s special envoy to the Middle East, which is a position that carries a status equivalent to a minister.

Hadi had on January 28 this year filed an application to strike out the lawsuit on grounds, arguing that the court case was allegedly frivolous and an abuse of court process and disclosing no reasonable cause of action.

Among other things, Hadi had argued that the two Sabahans did not have locus standi or legal standing to file the lawsuit and that their rights were not affected by his allegedly seditious remarks.

In seeking to have the lawsuit struck out, Hadi had also argued that the lawsuit was an attempt to have the civil court take over the criminal courts’ power to hear and decide on criminal convictions, and that it was allegedly an attempt to take over the attorney-general’s powers to prosecute and the prime minister’s powers in appointments for public office.

The High Court had on April 19 heard the striking out application before delivering its decision today.

The two Sabahans had argued in court that Hadi should not be allowed to proceed with his striking out application as he had allegedly committed contempt of court through a Facebook post, but the High Court judge today disagreed that the Facebook post amounted to a contempt of court.

The High Court judge allowed Hadi to strike out the lawsuit based on a number of reasons, deciding that the two Sabahans lack locus standi and that the case was not a public interest matter, and that the separation of powers doctrine under Malaysia’s Federal Constitution meant that the courts could not encroach into the attorney-general’s powers to determine criminal offences or into the executive’s powers to appoint Hadi to his special envoy role.

Asked if the two Sabahans would be filing an appeal on the striking out decision today, their lawyer R. Kengadharan told reporters that he would be seeking ins

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