Contempt of Court or Just Contemptible?

Naza group chairman SM Faisal SM Nasimuddin has asked the shariah court to enhance a seven-day jail sentence on Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah over her criticism of a jail term on his former wife.

Faisal filed a cross-appeal to the shariah court, saying Maria’s appeal against her sentence should not be considered because of the “blatant disrespect” she had shown to the shariah judiciary.

Maria had been found guilty of contempt of court for a statement she made criticising an earlier shariah court decision to sentence Faisal’s former wife Emilia Hanafi to seven days’ jail, also for contempt of court.

Faisal said in his appeal that Maria’s challenge to the seven-day jail sentence indicated that she had no sense of remorse or regret over her actions.

Our comment

Malaysia’s thin skinned judiciary has struck again. Apparently, not even a member of parliament is allowed to express criticism or concern about the way in which justice is meted out, particularly perhaps if the MP happens to be a woman.

Of course, this is not a civil court that has acted thus but a religious court. Had the MP not converted maybe she would have been accorded her right to freedom of speech to criticise laws and their application? Unfortunately, there have been plenty of intimidating and heavy-handed reactions by Malaysia’s secular courts as well.

Meanwhile, and note the contrast, there has been an eye-catching lack of action against the concerted witch-hunt against the judge who passed a solid conviction against the former PM for grand crimes against his country. For doing his duty Nazlan Ghazali has been criticised, accused, hounded and harassed and yet none of the perpetrators have been called to account for questioning this particular judgement.

That conviction has been upheld on appeal, yet the courts have done precisely nothing to counter the gross contempt by Najib and his friends who refuse to accept the judgement or treat the judge with honour and respect.

So, back in UMNO Malaysia, Najib has yet to spend one day under lock and key for his horrendous crimes whilst the judge who convicted him is publicly libelled.  At the same time a woman MP has been sentenced to jail for opening her mouth on women’s rights and the cry is to sentence her longer…. on the grounds she questioned a judge.

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