Attorney-General Tommy Thomas says he was not aware of the prosecution's cross-appeal in the sedition case of independent preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussain until a new sentence was issued on Tuesday.
Describing a sequence of events beginning with Wan Ji's initial charge in 2014, Thomas said in a statement today that it is clear that the cross-appeal by the prosecution on the sentence was made prior to last year's general election.
Wan Ji was found guilty and convicted by the Shah Alam Sessions Court on April 9, 2018.
He was sentenced to nine months' jail, and immediately filed an appeal against the conviction. The prosecution filed a cross-appeal on the same day.
"No written representations were ever made by the accused or his lawyer to me, and I was not personally aware of this matter until after the decisions of the High Court on July 9 became publicly known."
"This is hardly surprising, because on any given working day, the federal and 13 state governments are involved, literally, in hundreds of criminal and civil cases in all the courts of the land.
"It is therefore impossible for any one person to be personally acquainted with even a tiny fraction of these cases," the attorney-general said.
Stressing the importance of delegation and decentralisation of authority, Thomas added that the Attorney-General's Chambers is studying options with respect to Wan Ji’s (photo) appeal.
He added, however, that the margin of discretion of his office is substantially limited with regard to the preacher's conviction by two courts.
"The Wan Ji case has once again brought to sharp focus the continued use by this chambers of prosecution for offences under the Sedition Act 1948, and the misinformation surrounding the subject.
"The facts are as follows. First, the Sedition Act is among the Acts of Parliament that the Pakatan Harapan manifesto states will be repealed."
"Secondly, the cabinet has not informed the chambers of any decision to repeal or amend it.
"Under our system of government, it is the cabinet that decides on behalf of the executive branch, to enact, repeal or amend laws for presentation to Parliament, with the chambers assisting in the drafting of new laws," he said.
"Thirdly, the cabinet has not 'instructed' this chambers to refrain from relying on the Sedition Act.
"Such an instruction would not, in any event, be lawful because it would offend the discretionary power under the constitution vested solely in the office of the attorney-general to decide on prosecutorial matters on behalf of the state."
Wan Ji, who was sentenced to nine months' jail on the 2014 sedition charge, had his sentence enhanced to one year after the Shah Alam High Court allowed the appeal by the prosecution.
The sedition charge was over a Facebook post about Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah of Selangor.
Wan Ji was charged under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act, which carries a maximum jail term of three years and a fine of RM5,000 upon conviction.
Judge Abdul Halim Aman ordered Wan Ji to begin his sentence at the Kajang Prison on Tuesday.
Today, however, the Shah Alam High Court allowed Wan Ji a stay of execution pending appeal.