Director & Producer Of 'Mentega Terbang' Charged In Court For Hurting Religious Sentiments

Khairi Anwar Jailani and Tan Meng Kheng pleaded not guilty at the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate's Court.

Cover image via New Straits Times

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The director and producer of the controversial local film Mentega Terbang have been charged at the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate's Court today, 17 January, for intentionally hurting religious sentiments

The movie, which centres around the religious conflicts faced by a Muslim teenager, was officially banned in Malaysia on 1 September 2023.

The ban was imposed after the Malaysian Islamic Development Department determined that the film's contents contradicted the beliefs and way of life of Muslims following the Syafie school of thought in Malaysia.

Four months after the ban, the film's director, Mohd Khairi Anwar Jailani, and its producer, Tan Meng Kheng, were charged in court under Section 298 of the Penal Code, reported the New Straits Times.

The charge pertains to actions with the deliberate intention to wound the religious feelings of any person. This includes uttering words, making sounds or gestures, or placing objects. It carries a punishment of imprisonment of up to one year, a fine, or both upon conviction.

The offence allegedly took place on 26 February last year at the Diamond Regency apartment in Kuala Lumpur at 12.34pm.

The duo, who was represented by the lawyers N. Surendran and Zaid Malek, pled not guilty at the magistrate's court.

Deputy public prosecutor Nor Azizah Aling proposed RM10,000 bail for each accused and a gag order against commenting on the case until its disposal

"The bail is a condition to ensure [both] the accused come to court without fail so that the trial can go on smoothly," NST quoted her as saying.

Nor Azizah argued that the gag order was necessary as the accused had made comments on the case after receiving notices to appear in court and before the proceedings today, 17 January.

She also requested the defendants to report to the nearest police station and surrender their passports to the court.

In response, the defendants' counsel, Surendran, objected to the proposed bail sum, deeming it to be excessive

He argued for a bail sum of RM1,000 for both Khairi and Tan, considering Khairi's role as an independent filmmaker and Tan's occupation as a schoolteacher with a monthly income below RM3,000.

Surendran also contended that the gag order was unnecessary, stating it as an unlawful move without basis. He further argued that both his clients were not flight risks and would not abscond.

Subsequently, Khairi and Tan were granted RM6,000 and RM6,500 bail with one surety, respectively.

The gag orders remained and Khairi was ordered to report to the Kajang district police headquarters monthly until the case's disposal.

The date for the mention of the case in court has been scheduled for 14 March.

Mohd Khairi Anwar (left) with defence counsel N. Surendran.

Image via Free Malaysia Today

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