The latest "hot" item in cyberspace particularly social networks like twitter and facebook seems to be buzzing about Ahmad Abd Jalil.
Ahmad Abd Jalil who?
Maybe it's me but I did not pay very much attention and had read only in passing of The Malaysia Insider report "Arrested youth’s family fear Johor palace interference, urge cops to help" because the first few lines and headline itself sounded ludicrous.
Yes, it would have been believable in days of yore and those of my generation may well concur.
Not in recent and present times.
It cannot be denied that PDRM has the greatest of respect for all Sultans in every sultanate state and so it should be. But to allege that the palace would interfere in police investigations, even if it is out of fear or concern, cannot be given credit.
Since the constitutional crisis which led to trimming powers of the Sultans, especially immunity to criminal acts, by act of parliament, there has never been any occasion to support such an allegation.
Indeed the police refuted palace interference and other allegations.
The speed and momentum in to rally and support Ahmad via social networks and blogs is also another reason. Any "abuse" by our monarchs (or anyone else) nowadays will not escape the public domain through these very same avenues.
Yet who exactly is Ahmad Abd Jalil?
Ahmad is reported to be a quantity surveyor whose facebook posting are alleged to have insulted HRH the Sultan of Johore. He was investigated for seditious content and charged under Section 233 (1)(b) of the Communications and Multimedia Act.
The blogosphere with one such as this has made Ahmad some sort of innocent victim of circumstances and as mentioned people have even rallied with a vigil to protest his detention and charge.
Now, this is exactly the reason and purpose why the Evidence Act 114A has been enacted and in this case could be put to the test.
Searching for the actual offending FB posting proved elusive but according to this report the posting certainly is very offensive even to be quoted. Also, it certainly is a case where EA 114A is appropriate in it's application as a deterent to prevent anonymous postings that are slanderous, seditious etc.
The report has the sister of Ahmad saying there is no evidence linking her accused brother to the posts in question which according to her were made by someone using the name "Zul Yahaya" but NST reports that Ahmad Abd Jalil from Klang, Selangor, was alleged to have used the pseudonym "Zul Yahya" and posted remarks that had embarrassed the ruler on two occasions.
As earlier said, accused Ahmad Abd Jalil is being made out to be a victim in this sordid affair.
But is he really as innocent as he is is being portrayed to be?
He is reported to be a quantity surveyor. It is not as though he is some juvenile deliquent and ignorant of the law.
And even if he were ignorant, by law ignorance cannot be a defence reported in London just about a week ago for a related offence, highly relevant to the present case, and any violation of the law, ignorantia legis neminem excusat.
That case in London is an essential read and an excellent lesson for all of us engaged in any form of online activity.
All said said and done, every due process of the law must be accorded to the accused and in a just manner, ignorance or not.
Update 12 November : Seditious Facebook posting screenshot for commenter Gondar in the comment section.