Investigated for sarcastic Facebook posts on Najib’s reduced sentence, Tony Pua may face up to 3-year jail & RM50k fine

After days of speculation brought forth by media publications publishing unverified news about former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s royal pardon bid, the Pardons Board finally released a statement on 2 February announcing that Najib has been granted a reduced punishment for his sentence on the SRC International case. These include his imprisonment being reduced from 12 years to 6 years and his RM210 million fine to RM50 million fine.

This means that Najib will be released from prison on 23 August 2028 or a year later on 23 August 2029 should he fail to pay the reduced RM50 million fine. Furthermore, there is also a possibility for the former Prime Minister to be released as early as January 2025 for good behaviour.

Following the official statement by the Pardons Board, many quarters have expressed their dissatisfaction over the decision, interestingly from Najib himself, who according to his daughter, was disappointed that his sentence was only reduced and not a full pardon given. Another notable individual who expressed his dissatisfaction with the decision, this time on why it was given, was former Member of Parliament (MP) for Damansara, Tony Pua, who took to his official Facebook account to share a series of sarcastic statements on the matter.

However, Pua’s Facebook posts have landed him in trouble as the former Damansara MP is now under investigation by the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) for allegedly making seditious statements about the royal institution. In a statement by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Razaruddin Hussain, Pua was called to assist in the investigation on 5 February at 1am at the Classified Crime Investigation Unit, Prosecution/Legal Division (D5), Criminal Investigation Department in Bukit Aman.

So, what charges is Pua facing and should he be convicted of them, what punishments does the former Damansara MP face? Well, join us as we break it down below.

Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948

According to the IGP, Pua is being investigated for his Facebook posts on Najib’s reduced sentencing, particularly of these words:

  • “trust me. It’s not a scam”
  • “oh wow, after all these years, NAJIB / UMNO cybertrooper still love me”
  • “I beg your pordon?”
  • “can someone sent me to jail and for 1 year and in exchange, pay me RM50 mil?”
  • “Pretty please?”
  • “King Klep pardoned!!”

The IGP further claimed that these words are seditious in nature as they allegedly incite the public to despise and insult the royal institution regarding the prerogative of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong under Article 42 of the Federal Constitution below:

Hence, Pua may face action under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 below:

According to the above provision, Pua may have committed an offence under the Sedition Act for uttering seditious words in his Facebook posts. Should he be convicted under Section 4(1) of the Act, he may face a fine of up to RM5,000 or imprisonment of up to 3 years or both.

It is worth noting that should Pua be charged under this provision, it would be ironic given how he was part of the Pakatan Harapan government that promised to abolish the Sedition Act during the 14th General Election (GE14) but didn’t manage to do so while in power from 2018 to 2020.

Section 233(1) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998

Besides that, given that the statements were made on Facebook, Pua may also face a charge under Section 233(1) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for improper use of network facilities or services. The provision is as follows:

As per the above provision, Pua can be argued to have created a communication which is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with the intent to annoy, abuse or harass another person. Should he be convicted under this provision, Pua may face action under Section 233(3) of the Act below:

Hence, should he be convicted under Section 233 of the Act, the former Damansara MP may face up to an RM50,000 fine or jail of up to 1 year or both. Furthermore, he may also face a further fine of RM1,000 fine for every day during which the offence is continued after conviction.

With all of this in mind, Pua has stressed that there was nothing seditious about his posts as they were aimed at Najib and UMNO, not toward the Pardons Board. In a Facebook post after giving his statement to the police, the former Damansara MP said that anyone who can “read plain English” would know that there is absolutely nothing seditious about his posts and that upsetting Najib or UMNO isn’t sedition. He is also confident that the investigation will be short and the case will be binned, vowing to give his full cooperation to the police.

Moving forward, all eyes will be on the investigation of Pua and whether he will be charged under the aforementioned provisions. In the meantime, the PDRM has called for all parties to not speculate or share false information that could jeopardise public order and harmony.

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