Punishment must fit the crime

10 Mar 2019 / 20:35 H.

    I HAVE been consistent in saying that freedom of speech doesn’t mean you have freedom to make insulting and incendiary comments about religious or racial issues. These are particularly sensitive topics in a multicultural, multireligious and multiracial country like Malaysia.

    I have also been consistent in saying that we don’t have to use draconian laws like the Sedition Act to deal with such things. There are sufficient laws in the books to handle such cases that we don’t need to resort to repressive laws that can be easily abused for political purposes. Pakatan Harapan has promised to abolish such laws and I, for one, feel PH needs to fulfil that promise.

    That said, if someone has been proven to have made insulting or provocative comments on religious or racial issues, they should be prosecuted under existing laws. This has happened with a few cases recently but something that caught everybody’s attention was the bizarre case whereby one person was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months.

    I am not a lawyer but one does not have to be a lawyer to say that a sentence of more than a decade for posting something insulting or provocative on social media is over the top.

    Latheefa Koya, who is a lawyer, calls the sentence: “Shocking and unprecedented.” She adds: “He had pleaded guilty, which should have been taken into account. Ten years consecutively is disproportionate and must be reviewed.”

    This kind of excessive sentencing is the kind of thing you would expect to happen under a BN regime but PH must do better. Yes, crimes must be prosecuted and the guilty must be sentenced but the punishment must be commensurate with the crime. More than 10 years for posting something on social media (however vile that posting may be) is excessive by any standards.

    Ronnie Liu
    Petaling Jaya


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