Malaysia: Court extends sentence for criticism of royalty

ARTICLE 19 is deeply concerned by today’s decision by the Shah Alam High Court to extend the prison sentence of Wan Ji Wan Hussin. Wan Ji Wan Hussin was charged in 2014 under the Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act in relation to a 2012 Facebook post about Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah. In April 2018, he was sentenced to nine months imprisonment by the Session Court, extended to one year today when the High Court rejected Wan Ji Wan Hussin’s appeal and ruled in favour of a counter-appeal by the prosecution. Wan Ji Wan Hussin, who had been free pending the outcome of his appeal, was sent to prison following the court’s ruling.

Commenting on the court’s decision, ARTICLE 19 said:

“The use of antiquated laws to stifle freedom of expression must end if the so-called New Malaysia is to reach its democratic potential. No one should be punished merely for expressing a critical opinion about a powerful individual. Public discourse is particularly important when it comes to the conduct and privileges of royalty and other unelected public officials, who are not subject to accountability at the ballot box.”

“For years, the Sedition Act has been used to silence dissenting voices. The continued use of the law by the current government is a stain on its record and calls into questions the reform commitments made by politicians on the campaign trail. The government must immediately impose a moratorium on the use of the Sedition Act and take concrete steps towards abolishing the law as soon as possible.”


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