Ratu Naga to face trial for online insult after losing constitutional challenge bid


Source: The Malay Mail Online

Facing the law: Syarul Ema Rena leaving the Sepang Sessions Court. Pic taken from The Star Online

Syarul Ema Rena, pic taken from The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 — The Sessions Court today dismissed Syarul Ema Rena Abu Samah’s bid to proceed with her constitutionality challenge of a law criminalising online insults.

Her lawyer Melissa Sasidaran said her client, who is more popularly known as Ratu Naga, had applied to refer her constitutionality challenge to the High Court.

“The Sessions Court judge rejected our application so the case is now going for trial,” she told Malay Mail Online today.

“The judge said the application was premature because the trial hasn’t begun and the judge referred to the Federal Court case of Adam Adli, Fariz Musa, Mandeep Singh, Maria Chin,” she added.

In the Federal Court’s decision last October 10 that was referred to by the judge today, it had decided that seven individuals should go back to the High Court to face trial over a peaceful rally first before they can go on with their constitutionality challenge on a Peaceful Assembly Act provision.

According to Melissa, Syarul Ema Rena had sought to challenge the constitutionality of the Communications and Multimedia Act’s Section 233(1)(a) and 233(3), which are respectively the offence she is charged for and the provision on the punishment for the offence.

Section 233(1)(a) touches on the offence of improper use of network facilities, and among other things specifically says it will be an offence for anyone who knowingly makes any comment through network facilities or applications services which is “obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person”.

Under Section 233(3), those convicted will face a maximum RM50,000 fine or maximum one-year jail term or both, with a further fine of RM1,000 for every day where the convicted person continues committing the offence.

Sessions Court judge Muhamad Faizal Ismail fixed trial to begin from February 13, but Melissa confirmed that her client will be filing an appeal at the High Court on today’s decision.

Last February 18, Syarul Ema Rena was reportedly charged with insulting the prime minister in a 2015 comment that was posted using the Facebook account of Ratu Naga.

The alleged October 6, 2015 Facebook comment was related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), which Malaysia’s Parliament had last January given the nod for and which Malaysia had committed to ratify by 2018.