KUALA LUMPUR - A construction site supervisor was dealt the full extent of the law - a year's prison - after he pleaded guilty to making comments on his Facebook account which had insulted Muslims about Ramadan.
Chow Mun Fai, 36, admitted using the social media site to post offensive comments to hurt the feelings of others, which mentioned eating pork during Ramadan, bah kut teh and insults to the Prophet.
The crime under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 carries a maximum one-year prison sentence.
The offence occurred when the complainant, KLpac supervisor Mohamed Fairuz Mohamed Ariff, read the comment made on the Facebook account "Chow Jack 982", at KL Performing Arts Centre, in Jalan Strachan, Sentul, on June 12.
According to the facts of the case, Mohamed Fairuz made a police report about the comments he read, which prompted the Malaysian Communications And Multimedia Commission to confirm that the account was registered and managed by Chow.
A charge under the Sedition Act was first read out to Chow, but he instead pleaded guilty to the alternate one under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
Chow, who wore a pink T-shirt and jeans, was seen crying when speaking to his mother before the court proceedings.
He regained his composure after waiting almost two hours in the dock before the charges against him were read, but broke down and wept again when the judge picked up a printout of Chow's post to confirm if he had written it.
DPP Suhaimi Ibrahim urged the court to hand down a heavy sentence to show there was no compromise with any party that believed it could upset religious sensitivities in the name of absolute freedom of speech.
He added that a clear signal needed to be sent out that social media users were responsible for the effects resulting from their actions.
"The accused seemingly wanted to show he had the constitutional freedom to state his mind, but there are limits that ought to guide the public. In this case, it is the MCMC's rules," said Suhaimi.
However, Chow's counsel Ahmad Ridza Mohd Noh pleaded for a more lenient sentence, saying his client regretted his actions and proved it by taking responsibility for them.
"To err is human, and I believe this misstep will haunt my client for the rest of his life," said Ahmad Ridza.
Judge Azman Mustapha punished Chow to the maximum prison time set by the Communications and Multimedia Act, citing that it was for the sake of public policy.