High Court upholds gag order on Mentega Terbang director, scriptwriter

KUALA LUMPUR – The High Court here today upheld a gag order imposed on Mentega Terbang director and scriptwriter Mohd Khairianwar Jailani prohibiting him from making any statement or comment regarding his ongoing case.

During today’s case management, High Court Judge K. Muniandy dismissed Mohd Khairianwar’s application for review filed on Jan 18 seeking to challenge the gag order issued by the Magistrate’s Court.

“The court upholds the gag order to preserve the interest of the trial after taking into account the nature of the charges faced by the applicant, sets aside the order to report to the police station, and maintains bail at RM6,000,” said Muniandy.

The grounds in the application for review were that the ban is illegal and restricts freedom of speech.

Mohd Khairianwar’s lawyer, Zaid Malek said the defence believed the Magistrate’s Court had misinterpreted the principles of the gag order.

Earlier, deputy public prosecutor, Nadia Mohd Izhar said the gag order should be maintained because it involves religious issues.

On Jan 17, the director, Mohd Khairianwar, 32, and the producer, Tan Meng Kheng, 36, were charged in two separate Magistrate’s Courts with hurting the religious sensitivities of others through their movie Mentega Terbang, last year.

They were charged with intentionally hurting the religious sensitivities of others by uttering words and placing objects within the hearing and sight of people at a premises in Jalan Semarak Api here at 12.34 pm on Feb 26, 2023.

Mohd Khairianwar and Tan were charged under Section 298 of the Penal Code which carries a maximum sentence of one-year imprisonment or a fine or both upon conviction.

Mohd Khairianwar and Tan were allowed bail at RM6,000 and RM6,500, respectively, with one surety each, and were required to report to the nearest police station until the completion of the trial.

The prosecution had applied for a gag order prohibiting them from making any comment or statement in general about the essence of the case until it is concluded.

Previously, the Ministry of Home Affairs banned the screening and publicity of the movie through the Government Gazette P.U (A) 2662 Film Censorship Act 2002, the Film Censorship (Prohibition) Order 2023 dated Aug 21, 2023, signed by Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

The film, broadcast on a video streaming platform, has faced public backlash and anger due to purportedly depicting scenes involving conflicting religious beliefs and elements. – BERNAMA / pic TMR FILE