KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 — PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang was convicted of sedition by the Sessions Court today over remarks he made in a public forum on May 13, 2013.
But the Batu MP escaped disqualification after Sessions Court judge Zulqairnan Hassan fined him RM1,800 and sentenced him to three months’ in prison, below the RM2,000 and one year threshold that would have cost the lawmaker his seat.
“The accused used words such as ‘bangkit’ (rise), ‘turun ke jalan’ (take to the streets), which were uttered soon after the results of the 13th general election were announced.
“I am satisfied that this is seen as having a tendency to commit sedition,” Zulqairnan said in his decision.
Chua could have been fined a maximum of RM5,000 or imprisoned for up to three years or both for the offence.
The judge allowed a stay of execution pending an appeal.
“We have been granted a stay and now we will proceed with going to apply for it (the appeal,” said N. Surendran who represented Chua.
Earlier during the hearing, Deputy Public Prosecutor Julia Ibrahim had asked for a heavier sentence for Chua, arguing that as a federal lawmaker he should have been more careful with his words.
Surendran however objected and asked for a lighter sentence, saying that Chua’s speech had not incited any seditious actions.
He also said that Chua has not been disqualified as a member of parliament as the sentencing was below a year for the jail sentence and under RM2,000 for the fine.
“He is not disqualified as an MP. The sentence no effect on status as MP because the fine is below RM2,000 and the jail sentence is below 1 year. If it is more than a year, he would be disqualified,” the Padang Serai MP explained.
Surendran also reasoned that the only reason Chua was being charged was because the Sedition Act had a broad and loose definition to what is considered seditious.
Chua said that his sentence was part of the job hazard of being an opposition lawmaker.
“We have to accept it as part occupational hazards to go through. It would be a big mistake to think that a sentence would silence the people from criticising wrongdoing and abuses,” he told reporters after the verdict.