Context and intention poser

They cannot understand, and rightly so, why this man is being protected from prosecution.

On the contrary, the reasons given by the A-G are nothing but mitigation for the man whose outburst was a call to Muslims in this country to commit a serious crime under the Penal Code.

If indeed the story given in the A-G’s statement is true, that there was an attempt by a non-Muslim student to distribute Bibles to students including Muslim students, the A-G should know very well that if the act constituted an offence, it was an offence by the student or students concerned.

The offence does not extend to the Bible or to the millions of people in Malaysia who use the Bible as their Holy Book.

Would not those millions of Christians be troubled and offended by the call of Ibrahim to seize and burn Bibles (“rampas dan bakar”)?

Does not such a call constitute a “seditious tendency to promote ill will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia” within the meaning of Section 3 of the Sedition Act?

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin gave the answer in his comment on the A-G’s statement as reported in The Malaysian Insider (Oct 27), when he was quoted to say, “Terpulang kepada Peguam Negara. Pandangan peribadi saya kalau buat kenyataan nak bakar kitab orang lain, itu adalah hasutan.”

The A-G gave two reasons why he chose not to prosecute Ibrahim.

One was that, taken in its overall context, the man’s call to seize and burn Bibles did not have a seditious tendency.

The other was that the man had “no intention to offend or to provoke”.

Both those reasons are flawed in law because they are not defences recognised by the Sedition Act.

On the contrary, Section 3 (3) of the Act has made it abundantly clear that “intention” (however good) of the person uttering the statement is irrelevant if the statement has a seditious tendency.

It boggles my mind how the A-G could excuse the man on grounds of his good intention when the law says otherwise.

It also boggles my mind how burning the Bible would defend the sanctity of the Islamic religion (“untuk mempertahankan kesucian agama Islam”).

In such a prima facie blatant case of sedition as this, the A-G would have done well to let the court decide if Ibrahim is entitled to the defence of “context” and “intention” as given by him.

Now, what about the many ­others who in a swoop were recently charged with sedition?

Were the considerations of “context” and “intention”, even though not valid considerations, not applied to them also before they were charged? I think not.


Former Head of Prosecution, Attorney-General’s Chambers Malaysia

The Star