Hishamuddin Rais gets nine months’ jail after court increases sedition sentence


(Malay Mail Online) – A High Court today sentenced Hishamuddin Md Rais to nine months in jail for sedition after allowing the prosecution’s appeal for a more deterrent sentence than the RM5,000 fine the activist was given last year.

According to tweets by Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), the court set aside the RM5,000 fine sentence handed down last January by the KL Sessions Court and allowed the prosecution’s cross-appeal on the matter.

“@IshamRais sedition appeal rejected but cross appeal by PP allowed. 5k fine set aside, jail for 9 months. Stay allowed pending appeal,” the group tweeted.

Lawyer Syahredzan Johan later confirmed the matter on his Twitter account and said that the court has a allowed for a stay on the sentence pending an appeal by Hishamuddin.

He added on the microblogging site that the court also set bail at RM6,000.

A report by news portal Malaysiakini quoted High Court judge Nordin Hassan as  saying that Hishamuddin’s alleged call on May 13, 2013, for Malaysians to take to the streets to topple the government was a “very serious” crime.

On January 9 last year, the KL Sessions Court found Hishamuddin guilty of sedition for his 2013 speech and fined him RM5,000 in default of six months’ jail.

Judge Azman Mustapha, who took more than an hour to decide on the sentencing, said then that inciting the public to topple the government is a “serious offence”.

In his May 13 remarks, Hishamuddin and several other speakers had allegedly incited the public to overthrow the government through street protests during a forum shortly after the May 5 general election which saw Barisan Nasional (BN) retain power narrowly.

Hishamuddin and five others — politicians Chua Tian Chang, Tamrin Ghafar and activists Adam Adli Abdul Halim, Haris Ibrahim and Muhammad Safwan Anang — were charged in 2013 with sedition over remarks uttered at the same forum.

On September 5, 2013, Safwan was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment after the court found him guilty of making a speech with seditious tendency at the same forum.

This was followed by Adam Adli’s conviction on September 19 — he was sentenced to a one-year in jail term for a speech at the same venue — in which he is said to have called for a change of government through undemocratic means.