SHAH ALAM • The former Chief Minister of Malacca state yesterday pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court over a charge that he had claimed in a Facebook posting that the Selangor crown prince had converted to Christianity.
Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, 65, had allegedly made the claim on Sept 25 that the Selangor Raja Muda Tengku Amir Shah is an apostate, a grievous charge in Islam.
The politician was alone in the court in the capital of Selangor state and made the plea after the charge was read before Judge Slamat Yahya, Bernama news agency reported.
He was charged under the Sedition Act 1948 and is liable to be fined a maximum RM5,000 (S$1,630) or serve a maximum jail term of three years, or both, upon conviction.
He also pleaded not guilty to an alternative charge of using his Facebook page to make comments of a seditious nature, the news agency said.
Under the alternative charge framed under the Communications and Multimedia Act, he could be fined up to RM50,000 or serve a maximum jail term of one year, or both, if convicted.
He was chief minister of the historic Malacca state for 12 years to 1994.
The New Straits Times (NST) newspaper reported yesterday that the claim by Abdul Rahim had been slammed by the Selangor Council of the Royal Court, which said the comments "reeked of sedition and slander" and could arouse hatred of Muslims towards both the crown prince and his father, the Sultan of Selangor.
The council had said it was perturbed that the politician did not take any steps to verify the truth behind the postings made in other portals before presenting his comments and opinions.
The council said on Sept 30 that "it would have been easy for him to check the truth of the information", NST reported.
Several police reports were lodged over the sensational claims, and Abdul Rahim later admitted that the source of his claim came from an unsubstantiated website.
He had issued three apologies in the period of four days over the issue.
In court yesterday, deputy public prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar, who appeared for the prosecution, asked that he be imposed bail of RM10,000 for both charges.
Counsel Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin for Abdul Rahim, applied to the court to have his bail reduced to RM2,000, Bernama reported.
The judge allowed bail at RM7,000 and fixed Nov 5 for a re-mention.