Sunday, October 2

Sabahans lose appeal to reinstate lawsuit against Abdul Hadi

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A general view of the Federal Court in Putrajaya on Feb 15, 2022. — Bernama photo

PUTRAJAYA (Aug 16): The Court of Appeal here today dismissed an appeal by two Sabahans to reinstate a lawsuit against PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang for allegedly making seditious remarks against Christians.

A three-member bench led by Justice Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera said the court agreed with the High Court that the suit, which was filed by Maklin Masiau and Lawrence Jomiji Kinsil @ Maximilhian, was wholly unsustainable and ought to be struck out.

He said the two declaratory orders sought by the two Sabahans were to ask the court to make a finding that Abdul Hadi had in fact committed an offence of sedition.

He said such declarations would not serve any purpose to the appellants (Maklim and Lawrence) as they admitted that they were not compelling the Attorney-General (AG) to prosecute Abdul Hadi or to compel the Prime Minister to dismiss him (Abdul Hadi) from his public office.

Justice Vazeer Alam said Maklim and Lawrence had alleged that Abdul Hadi committed sedition against the Christian community in the country and the AG, who is the public prosecutor, refused to prosecute him for sedition and despite that, the Prime Minister had appointed him as special envoy to the Middle East with ministerial status.

Justice Vazeer Alam said the purpose (for seeking declaratory orders) is not clear, adding that the submission by counsel representing Abdul Hadi that it was for political purpose, seems to be rather persuasive.

He said if a criminal offence has been committed by Abdul Hadi, it was the public prosecutor’s sole discretionary power to institute criminal proceedings and charge him.

“The court cannot usurp the constitutional power of the public prosecutor and declare beforehand that a criminal offence had been committed,” said Justice Vazeer Alam who sat with Justices Datuk Supang Lian and Datuk Ghazali Cha.

He said the court agreed with the High Court’s observation that there was no conceivable reason to ask for the declarations and the suit was an exercise in futility.

Justice Vazeer Alam, who delivered the court’s decision via online proceeding, said it would also undoubtedly be open to floodgates to file for similar suits if such declarations were given.

The court set aside the punitive costs of RM50,000 imposed by the High Court on Maklin and Lawrence, but ordered the two men to pay Abdul Hadi RM10,000 in costs for the proceedings in the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Maklin and Lawrence filed the suit against Abdul Hadi in December 2020, seeking declarations that he had committed sedition and was unfit to hold public office.

They claimed that Abdul Hadi had made a seditious statement against Christians and Christian missionaries which was published in the Harakah newspaper on Jan 18, 2016.

On May 7 last year, High Court judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir allowed Abdul Hadi’s application to strike out the suit filed against him by Maklin and Lawrence.

Lawyers Marcus Lee and How Li Nee represented Maklin and Lawrence while lawyers Yusfarizal Yussof and Adam Luqman Amdan acted for Abdul Hadi. – Bernama