High Court overturns Tian Chua’s 2016 sedition conviction

Chua speaks during the Majlis Kemenangan Rakyat Parlimen Batu in Sentul May 13, 2018. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif
Chua speaks during the Majlis Kemenangan Rakyat Parlimen Batu in Sentul May 13, 2018. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — The High Court today acquitted and discharged PKR vice-president Tian Chua of giving a speech of a seditious nature at a ‘ceramah’ (talk) five years ago.

Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali allowed the appeal by Tian Chua, 55, to set aside the conviction and sentence of three months jail and RM1,800 fine imposed by the Sessions Court on Sept 28, 2016.

He had been charged with committing the offence at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Jalan Maharajalela, Dang Wangi, here between 8.55 pm and 11.15 pm on May 13, 2013.

In his judgment, Mohd Nazlan said a prima facie case had not been proven against Tian Chua because the words he had used were not seditious in nature.

“Tian Chua’s speech was confined to pointing out mistakes in the government and advising the people to respond peacefully and rectify the mistakes.

“Although Tian Chua did not deny that he had made the statement, the overall analysis of the intent and context found that his statement did not refer to the changing of the government,” he said.

Tian Chua, whose real name is Chua Tian Chang, had pleaded not guilty on May 29, 2013, to committing the offence under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948.

Earlier in the proceedings, DPP Muhammad Azmi Mashud informed the court that the prosecution was withdrawing the cross-appeal against the sentence.

Tian Chua, who was represented by lawyer N. Surendran, said to reporters outside the court that he felt relieved that the case has finally ended.

“I think that in the new political environment, it is not appropriate for anyone who expresses himself in criticising the government to be penalised under the Sedition Act.

“The Act is outdated and should be abolished. It should no longer be applied to restrict public opinion under freedom of expression.

“I hope this decision (of the court) will serve as a benchmark. I will continue my struggle as an activist and be vocal as a team with the ruling Pakatan Harapan leaders to realise the people’s dreams,” he said. — Bernama

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