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By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, March 11: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii opined that the jail sentence imposed on Facebook user Alister Cogia, 22, is too harsh and that the lad from Singai, Bau, should appeal.
“While I do not condone any malicious insult or any offensive remarks towards any religion, however, the sentence is somewhat excessive and disproportionate,” said Dr Yii in a Facebook post yesterday.
Alister, who had a Facebook account by the name of ‘Ayea’ pleaded guilty in the Sessions Court on March 8 for uploading onto the social media platform offending remarks about Islam and Prophet Muhammad.
He was sentenced to a total of 10 years in prison and fined RM50,000 for all 10 charges. Alister was not represented when he pleaded guilty.
Dr Yii said he had met up with Attorney General Tommy Thomas and had brought up the issue of Alister, among others.
“While many quarters have expressed their dissatisfaction and put the blame on the government of the day, it is important to understand the separation of powers and the role of the courts in this issue,” said Dr Yii.
He said the AG had assured that there was no interference and that the Pakatan Harapan government was trying to be different and give more independence to the judiciary to restore public confidence.
“Thus, the punishment and sentencing are purely at the discretion of the courts, and, in this case, whether it was a reaction towards political developments of the day or not, I have the opinion that they were disproportionate and excessive.
“As advised by the AG and de facto Deputy Law Minister Hanipa Maidin, the man (Alister) should appeal against the decision of the Kuching Sessions Court, and I am glad as I was informed some lawyers led by YB See Chee How are already helping him out with the process,” said Dr Yii.
He said he was informed by Thomas that the AG’s role was to lay out the charges on the person and, in this case, there is basis as the accused admitted guilt to the charge of insulting a different religion and thus charged under Section 298A of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998.
“In the past, there was so much collusion with the three main branches of government that eroded public perception over the judiciary,” said Dr Yii. — DayakDaily