Thursday, 14 March 2013 10:55
TIAN PLEADS NOT GUILTY: Desperate Najib fears losing Sabah, other PR leaders may be next
Written by Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle
MP for Batu Tian Chua pleaded not guilty to Sedition charges pressed against him by Prime Minister Najib Razak's government for allegedly linking the ruling Umno party to the Lahad Datu intrusion.
"These are politically-motivated charges and I will clear my name through the court," said Tian as he made his plea.
His lawyers, Latheefa Koya and N Surendran, minced no words in his defence. Calling the charges a gross abuse of power and the judicial processes, they slammed the Najib administration for putting Umno above the government.
"How can you use the Sedition Act? The Sedition Act is meant to be used against those who try to destabilize the government. Umno is a political party. It is an utter abuse of the court. This is clearly a politically-motivated case. It is a dirty trick and Umno has turned nasty," N Surendran told reporters when emerging from the court room.
"Tian (allegedly) says Umno is doing a sandiwara (playacting). So why is the Attorney-General bringing a charge against Tian Chua for criticizing Umno? What does this mean? This means that if the Opposition criticizes the government, they will drag us to court and brand us as criminals. We are outraged by this charge. What type of best democracy in the world is this?"
Using Lahad Datu debacle to prosecute the Opposition ahead of GE13
Surendran and Latheefa, who are also senior PKR members, warned that more Opposition leaders would soon be charged including Anwar Ibrahim, the de-facto head of the Pakatan Rakyat. The Umno media has already been insinuating that Anwar had masterminded the Lahad Datu intrusion, which has proved to be a political calamity for Najib as he readies to call for the country's 13th general election.
Under tremendous pressure and flak for allegedly having mishandled the capture and eviction of a group of some 200 armed gunmen from Sulu, there is great concern that Najib was now trying to throw the blame onto the Opposition by 'any-how' smearing tactics such as the Sedition charges pressed against Tian this morning.
"Several Opposition leaders such as (PKR deputy president) Azmin Ali, (DAP MP for Puchong) Gobind Singh are being questioned and we expect more will soon be questioned. Media dan pemimpin Umno serang, Attorney-General dan polis kutuk (Umno media and leaders attack, the Attorney-General and the police prosecute) ... so they work together," said Surendran.
"There is still an ongoing vicious attack against Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. We expect they will also try to take action there even thought there is no basis for the lies and the slander against the Opposition Leader with regard to the Lahad Datu (intrusion) which is a national security (matter). The Umno government is politicizing the issue by going after the Opposition leaders."
Desperate Najib using Tian to manipulate the Malays
Bail was set at RM5,000-00. Tian's legal team will be applying to the High Court to strike out the charges.
Flanked by supporters, lawyers and colleagues from his PKR party, Tian also slammed the authorities for picking on him, saying it was clear there was no basis for the charges. The case was due to start at 9m at the Jalan Duta Court Complex, but only began around 11.30am.
"It is like they are not sure what to do," Tian had told Malaysia Chronicle as he was whisked into the courtroom.
Meanwhile, a host of PKR leaders and PR stalwarts gathered to show solidarity for the 50-year-old Tian. PKR disciplinary chief Tan Kee Kwong, Johor division chief Chua Jui Meng, MP for Puchong Gobind Singh Deo, MP for Selayang William Leong were among those who mingled with Tian's supporters as well as the media, who packed the small courtroom.
There was standing room only and many were locked out
"He has been charged under the Sedition Act which Najib has promised to do away with. It smells of a rat. Obviously Najib is desperate over the situation in Sabah. According to analysis by UiTM lecturer Arnold Puyok, 14 seats of the Chinese and the KDM seats will go the the Pakatan Rakyat plus the 2 that have come over, Wilfrid Bumburing (MP for Tuaran) and Lajim Ukin (MP for Beaufort)," Jui Meng told Malaysia Chronicle.
"That would make 16 out of the original 25 which means Najib is desperate. Umno is desperate. They need every means possible - devious or otherwise - to manipulate the situation, to manipulate the Malay-Muslim mind but the charge itself will not stick."
Revenge for Sabah BN defections?
The 50-year-old Tian was instrumental in laying the path for Bumburing and Lajim to leave the BN. He was the chief negotiator between the 2 men and the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.
Bumburing's and Lajim's departure had created a huge hole in Sabah BN, and combined with the shock after-effects of Najib's clearly botched Lahad Datu operations, Umno is certainly within a whisker of losing the key state, which ironically Najib had once described as being the BN's "fixed deposit" for votes.
A first-term MP, Tian is an amiable person and very popular with the people. His face is easily recognizable to the man in the street and they usually rush up to shake hands or take photos with him. His full name is Chua Tian Chang and he hails from Malacca, the oldest of 4 siblings born to a Hakka rice trader and a Chinese school teacher.
Tian was accused of linking the shooting of two policemen during the March 1 raid on the Sulu gunmen to Umno. His comments carried in the KeadilanDaily portal had alleged that the shootout in Kampung Tanduo was an Umno conspiracy to divert the attention of the people and frighten them.
Tian - who stands by his comments - has clarified that the remarks were unrelated to the shooting. According to him, when the KeadilanDaily report was published, the authorities had yet to confirm the raid or the fatalities.
Tian has also said by "conspiracy" he was alluding to the talk that had been buzzing around town at least 3 weeks before the raid took place that Najib was intentionally delaying the resolution of the intrusion because he wanted to capitalize on the issue to scare Sabah voters into backing the BN during the 13th general election.
The Keadilandaily editor and reporter have already backed up Tian's claim in their statement recently given to the police comment.
Apart from linking Umno to the conspiracy, Tian was also accused by Umno bloggers of saying at a ceramah or political rally in Puchong that the policemen had died unnecessarily or "mati katak".
The comment is considered as being insensitive and disrespectful to the sacrifices made by the policemen who were killed in the line of duty. Tian has again denied the accusation, showing proof that he was in Johor taking part in a fundraiser at the time the Umno bloggers had alleged he had uttered the "mati katak" comment.