Monday, 16 March 2009

Insulting Sultan Perak

Recently 6 individuals were charged all over Malaysia, under Section 233 of Communications and Multimedia Act 1988 (S233 CMA 1988) which states:-

233.  Improper use of network facilities or network service, etc.

(1) A person who-

(a) by means of any network facilities or network service or applications service knowingly-

(ii) initiates the transmission of,

any comment, request, suggestion or other communication which is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person; or

(b) initiates a communication using any applications service, whether continuously, repeatedly or otherwise, during which communication may or may not ensue, with or without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person at any number or electronic address,

commits an offence.

(2) A person who knowingly-

(a) by means of a network service or applications service provides any obscene communication for commercial purposes to any person; or

(b) permits a network service or applications service under the person's control to be used for an activity described in paragraph (a),

commits an offence.

(3) A person who commits an offence under this section shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both and shall also be liable to a further fine of one thousand ringgit for every day during which the offence is continued after conviction.

S233 CMA 1988 is a provision which may be used by the Authorities for a few offenses, and in the case of the 6, it is used to charge them for allegedly insulting Sultan Perak. S233(3) states that the sentence is either a fine of RM50,000 or imprisonment of a year or both penalties. 

For these 6 cases, we reckon the prosecution would have to prove, amongst others, beyond reasonable doubt that the 6 person :-
1. Posted comments on a Blog;
2. That the 6 respectively owned that Blog;
3. That the statement in postings insulted Sultan Perak.

This section is rarely used, and it would create new precedents in Malaysian Information Technology Law. The interesting part would be how they prove 'insult'. The Oxford Dictionary defines insult to mean a remark which offends another person. 

By right, the prosecutor would have to call Sultan Perak as a witness to ask if he felt insulted, though I dont think that would happen. So, by whose standard then, the word 'insult' be defined? Also, a person cannot be deemed to have insulted someone, if the statement was an accurate account of what a person feels. 

Unchartered territory!  

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