Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president Tian Chua has failed in his bid to strike out the sedition charge against him for making statements on the intrusion incident in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
High Court Judge Datuk Amelia Tee Hong Geok Abdullah, in dismissing Tian Chua’s application, said the charge as it stands was not wrong in law.
“It is for the prosecution to prove that the words he uttered referred to the government, not just Umno, which is a political party, and that it is clearly a matter to be tried at the trial court,” she said today.
“Hence, court finds no merit in the applicant’s application to strike out.”
Tee said Tian Chua also argued that the Sedition Act was not appropriate to be used as it contravenes the Federal Constitution.
“Counsel for the applicant said in July last year, the Prime Minister had announced that the Sedition Act would be repealed, but until it is really repealed, the Act stands as it is,” she said.
She also said that plaintiff’s grounds that the charge was against public policies, abuse of process and politically motivated was without merit.
“The court finds nothing to support his application to strike out the charge.
“Hence, the application is dismissed.”
Tian Chua, 50, whose real name is Chua Tian Chang, claimed trial on March 14 to making the statements, including one that he allegedly said the shootings in Lahad Datu were a planned conspiracy by the Umno-led government to divert attention and to frighten the people.
The Batu Member of Parliament is charged with committing the offence at No 62-2-A, Fraser Business Park, Jalan Metro Pudu, off Jalan Yew, in Kuala Lumpur at 11am on March 1.
Tian Chua, who was in court, said the decision by the court was expected.
“The judge had taken the stand that as long as the law existed, it can be used to charge people,” he told reporters.
“Although the government had already said the Sedition Act was no longer relevant and was draconian, yet, more and more politicians and the rakyat who criticised the government have been charged under the Act.”
He said this showed that the government was not sincere in making changes as promised by the prime minister.
“We can also see this in the amendments which were tabled in haste in Parliament yesterday,” he said, referring to the Prevention of Crime Act.
The amendments to the PCA created an uproar among opposition lawmakers as the amendments would allow detention without trial for up to two years, similar to the old Internal Security Act.
Meanwhile, Tian Chua’s counsel Latheefa Koya and Eric Paulsen said they will be filing for a stay on the sedition trial which was fixed for October 16 and 17, and an appeal against the High Court’s decision today.
They argued that the charge against their client was not only misconstrued but was also a case of selective prosecution.
“Only opposition lawmakers have been targeted and charged, be it under the Sedition Act or the Peaceful Assembly Act,” said Paulsen. – September 26, 2013.
BY RITA JONG, the Malaysian Insider