Tian Chua Takes EC to Court over Batu Disqualification

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Pakatan’s supporters despondent and uncertain how to vote while an online petition to get Chua voted again has gained traction since his disqualification, surpassing 55,000 signatures.

Updated: Tian Chua’s case will be heard in the High Court on May 3.

Yusof Mat Isa

PKR vice-president Tian Chua has filed a suit to reverse the rejection of his nomination to contest for the Batu parliamentary constituency.

The suit filed at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur this morning named election returning officer Anwar Md Zain and the Election Commission (EC) as respondents.

Chua, who held the Batu parliamentary seat since 2008, sought a declaration that he was qualified to run for the seat in GE14, under Article 48(1)(e) of the Federal Constitution.

He also sought a declaration that he was entitled to contest and be nominated for the seat.

In a supplementary affidavit filed, Chua said he had no issue with an RM2,000 fine in GE13, nor had it impeded him from acting as an MP over the previous term.

“It is a settled law that a fine of RM2,000 will not affect his rights or status as a candidate. And in the previous election, GE13, he was allowed to contest although there was a fine against him for RM2,000. He won and has been carrying out his duties as a member of parliament,” Chua’s counsel Ngeow Cheow Ying told reporters.

The lawyer said they had not yet been assigned a High Court judge to hear the matter, but they were moving to have it heard urgently before polling day.

Chua is also seeking cost and consequential reliefs that the court would determine to be fair and just.

On April 28, Chua’s nomination was rejected by Anwar, who said he was advised by the EC to disqualify him due to an RM2,000 fine imposed on Chua in a 2017 court case.

The sentence was in relation to his conviction over outraging the modesty of a police officer by using foul language four years ago.

The decision to disqualify Chua was made according to Section 7(1)(c) of the Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981, read together with Article 48(1)(e) of the Federal Constitution.

Section 7(1) (c) gives any electorate or candidate in a constituency to object to a nomination paper if it is apparent from the contents of the nomination paper that the candidate is not capable of being elected as a member of the Dewan Rakyat or a State Legislative Assembly.

Article 48(1)(e) provides for the disqualification for membership of Parliament if the person has been convicted of an offence by a court of law and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year, or to a fine of not less than RM2,000 and has not received a free pardon.

This comes despite the Shah Alam High Court’s grounds of judgment that explicitly spelt out that Chua would only be disqualified if “the fine was RM2,001 and above, and not from RM2,000”.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia had in 2011 also ruled that Chua would remain as Batu MP and that the RM2,000 fine would not automatically remove him from his role as MP.

Meanwhile, it was reported that a straw poll of Batu voters revealed deep divisions over how Pakatan Harapan supporters are reacting to the disqualification of Chua.

Some of the voters told Malaysiakini that they are no longer planning to vote or will spoil their vote as a sign of protest against Chua’s treatment.

Others said 22-year-old independent candidate P Prabakaran was the next best choice.

According to the news portal, those polled seemed sure that PAS’ Azha Yahya or the other independent candidate M Panjamothy, a former Batu MIC leader, will not be considered by the electorate.

A minority said they would be voting for Dominic Lau from Barisan Nasional (BN) on the grounds that a BN candidate would likely bring more development and funding to the constituency.

Retiree V Rajan, 60, said he was likely to vote for Prabakaran and hoped that this candidate will be “adopted” by Harapan, Malaysiakini reported.

He added that he was not considering the other candidates, especially the PAS candidate, because of the party’s support for the implementation of hudud law.

Wong, a noodle stall operator in Jalan Ipoh, said she would also prefer Prabakaran.

“I am not going to vote for BN or PAS. I don’t want hudud,” she was quoted saying.

Chua is expected to make a special address to Batu constituents tonight.

This address may contain instructions to organise Harapan backers in Batu, who reportedly are looking for direction.

Chua’s disqualification has now become the talk of the constituency, Malaysiakini reported.

“Everywhere I go to, the coffee shop, the lottery shop or the grocery store, the people are talking about it. A lot of people are sad,” 49-year-old security guard M Saravanan was quoted saying.

Reportedly, housewife Norhayati Abdul Wahib, 50, who lives in Kampung Padang Balang, nearly sobbed when she spoke of Chua.

“It is so sad. We have lost our hero. He is a true hero for our kampung because no one had ever fought like him (to keep our houses from the) landowner. Thank you for being our hero.

“He comes to our place every week, attends our kenduri and tahlil. He knows everybody here and we all love him.

“EC has not been fair to us because Tian Chua has been doing a fantastic job.

“I have been transferred to Wangsa Maju, where I will vote for his colleague (Tan Yee Kew),” Norhayati was quoted saying.