KUCHING: Both Sarawak DAP MPs charged with holding an illegal street protest were acquitted by the Kuching Sessions Court today.
Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen and Stampin MP Julian Tan were discharged today as Judge Steve Ritikos ruled that the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case against the two elected representatives on their participation in the Bersih 4 rally in Kuching on Aug 29, 2015.
They were both charged for breaching Section 4(2)(c) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2014 for allegedly taking part in an illegal street protest marching from Hilton Hotel to the Bersih Rally 4 event which was held at Song Kheng Hai field.
Their defence argued they only met at Hilton to park their cars and gather with the rest before marching to the rally venue. Their arguments were accepted by the judge.
Lead counsel Gobind Singh Deo opined that the judgment was ‘sound’ as the judge had made his decision focusing on the main issue – on whether or not there was a street protest.
“It is an important decision because it defines the meaning of ‘street protest’ under the Assembly Act.
“I think the judge clearly said there is a distinction to be made when a person meets and moves towards an event as opposed to a ‘street protest’,” said Gobind when met by the media at the Court House today.
He urged the Attorney General not to appeal against the decision. He said that based on the facts of the case, he saw no grounds on which an appeal could filed.
Meanwhile, describing the case as a farce and a circus show, Chong who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman and state DAP chairman maintained the view that the case was political persecution.
“I still maintain that this case is political persecution. It is a farce, right from the beginning whereby the organiser was not even charged but the participants were charged.
“And I am glad (that) this whole (case), well, you can call it a circus show, is ended and like Gobind said, we are glad that the judge agreed with our arguments and (hope) that the Attorney General will not appeal,” said Chong.
He believed that the Attorney General’s chambers and its legal team had more important matters and criminal cases to take care of rather than wasting their time on this ‘circus show’.
Chong called the case political persecution because if he were to be found guilty, a maximum fine of RM10,000 may be imposed.
Chong who is a parliamentarian and state assemblyman would stand to lose both his state and parliamentary seats if the judge ordered a fine of more than RM2,000.
In addition, both Chong and Tan would have to refrain from contesting in any election for up to two years.