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Malaysian political activist pleads not guilty to defamation and sedition charges

On Monday (29 Apr), Badrul Hisham, known as Chegubard, pleaded not guilty to defamation and sedition charges linked to his Facebook comments about a Forest City project development.



Badrul Hisham Shaharin (Photo: Bernama)

Badrul Hisham Shaharin, better known as Chegubard, was formally charged at the cybercrime Sessions Court with criminal defamation and sedition on Monday (29 Apr).

These charges are linked to his Facebook comments about a purported development in the Forest City project in Johor.

Badrul, a well-known political activist and a member of the People’s Justice Party in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, also serves as the chief of Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia, a prominent Malaysian youth NGO. He entered a plea of not guilty after the charges were read to him by Judge Siti Aminah Ghazali.

Bail was set at RM10,000 for each charge. His legal representative, Rafique Rashid Ali, stood by him as the charges were detailed.

Badrul arrived at the Kuala Lumpur court complex at 9:20 AM, dressed in a traditional green baju Melayu and handcuffed under police escort.

According to Sinar Harian, as he was led through the lobby of the court complex, he addressed the media with a greeting of “Assalamualaikum, Selamat Hari Raya,” marking the festive period of his court appearance.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Syed Faisal Syed Amir initially proposed bail at RM20,000 for each charge, citing the serious nature of the offenses, especially those involving the King.

He also requested a gag order to prevent both parties from making public statements or comments on social media, aiming to maintain public order and ensure the uninterrupted progress of the case.

Lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali, who represented the accused, appealed for a lower bail on the grounds that his client supports his wife and four children. He also mentioned that the RM20,000 bail suggested by the prosecution is relatively high compared to the punishment provided under the Sedition Act (RM5,000).

Badrul’s arrest on 27 April followed his comments on social media in which he claimed that discussions were underway between Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and high-profile business leaders, including Vincent Tan of Berjaya Group and Lim Kok Thay of Genting Group, regarding a potential casino license that could revitalize the US$100 billion township project in Johor. The prime minister and the implicated business figures have publicly denied these claims.

Following his arrest, Badrul was detained at the Dang Wangi police headquarters and investigated under the stringent Sedition Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act for two days. NGOs such as MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) have strongly criticized the government’s decision to detain the Bersatu leader over his Facebook post.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and officials from both the Berjaya Group and the Genting Group have also refuted the Bloomberg report that originally alleged the high-stakes meeting about the casino license, with the prime minister calling for action to be taken against the media company over its allegation.

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It’s not a good idea to continue trampling on freedom of speech. Ask him to retract his statements and then drop the charges.

If he is lying then leave his punishment to God. Or do you all not have faith in him?