Hadi’s alleged attacks on Christians of public interest, says lawyer

Hadi’s alleged attacks on Christians of public interest, says lawyer

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s alleged attacks on Christians six years ago is a public interest matter which a High Court judge failed to appreciate, the Court of Appeal heard today.

Lawyer Gopal Sri Ram said the High Court judge instead treated it as a private legal action and decided the case from the private law perspective.

“Had the judge assessed the suit from the lens of a public interest matter, he would not have arrived at his decision on the lack of locus standi by the appellants.



“This is because in a public interest litigation, the locus standi is entirely distinct from that of a private law action,” he said in his submission conducted online today before a three-member bench chaired by Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera. Others on the bench were Supang Lian and Ghazali Cha.

Sabahans Maklin Masiau and Lawrence Jomiji Kinsil @ Maximilhian are appealing to restore their suit that was struck out by Judge Akhtar Tahir on May 11 last year on grounds that they lacked locus standi to file the action.

In December 2020, they filed an originating summons seeking two declarations – that Hadi had committed sedition and that he is unfit to hold public office.

The two claimed Hadi made a seditious statement in the PAS organ Harakah on Jan 18, 2016 against Christians and/or Christian missionaries but he was not prosecuted.



In their affidavit to support their action, they also said Hadi’s statement was also published by FMT on the same day.

“We respectfully believe that the defendant (Hadi) made an unfounded statement and cast aspersions on Christians and/or Christian missionaries which has become a matter of public interest,” they added.

In January last year, Hadi filed an application to strike out the suit.

In April, the Sabahans raised a preliminary objection against the striking out on grounds that Hadi had allegedly committed an act of contempt for insulting the judiciary on his Facebook page a month earlier.



Akhtar dismissed the preliminary objection and allowed Hadi’s application to strike out the suit. The judge also ordered Maklin and Lawrence to pay RM50,000 each in costs to Hadi.

Sri Ram, who was assisted by R Kengadharan, said in his submission today that the appellants needed only to show that a statutory breach had occurred and the genuine interest of the Christian community had been affected.

He also said Hadi cannot come to court after having made a scurrilous attack on the judiciary.

Sri Ram said lawyers for the Sabahans and Hadi were also not accorded the opportunity to submit on costs, which demonstrated a breach of natural justice.

Meanwhile, lawyer Yusfarizal Yussoff, who appeared for Hadi, submitted that the Sabahans did not have the legal standing to bring the action.

He said Hadi had only targeted Christian missionaries and not Christians in general.

“Both did not state in their affidavits that they were Christian missionaries but merely practising Christians in Labuan and Sabah,” he said, adding they also failed to provide any evidence that they had suffered any special damages.

Yusfarizal said the two had failed to produce the copy of Harakah which published Hadi’s remarks but only exhibited an unverified reproduction in FMT.

The lawyer said the High Court judge imposed punitive costs because the two “resurrected a matter long dead and buried” to get cheap publicity and choke the judicial system with unnecessary and frivolous litigation.

He said the two could not seek declarations for an alleged criminal offence in a civil court.

The bench will deliver judgment on March 31. FMT

Hadi’s alleged attacks on Christians of public interest, says lawyer


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