Maria has to deal with earlier charge before next rally


PETALING JAYA: Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah will have to deal with a previous charge of organising a gathering last year without police approval, even as she attempts to hold the Bersih 5 rally on Nov 19.

This latest development came about after Putrajaya filed an appeal to the Federal Court to reverse the finding of the Court of Appeal that struck out the charge against her for failing to give a 10-day notice to police last year.

“I was informed that the prosecution filed the appeal just two days after the Court of Appeal ruling,” she told FMT.

On Sept 7, the three-man Court of Appeal bench led by Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat in allowing Chin’s appeal, said any law, including court judgments, could not be applied retrospectively.

Chin’s lead counsel, M Puravelan, had submitted that at the time his client was alleged to have committed the offence, a Court of Appeal bench had ruled that Section 9 (5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) (the provision that prescribes a fine of RM10,000 against organisers of any rally for failure to give a 10-day notice to police), as unconstitutional in the Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad case in April 2014.

However, another Court of Appeal bench on Oct 1 last year, in the case of R Yuneswaran, had departed from the Nik Nazmi case, leading to the existence of two conflicting judgments.

Chin committed the alleged offence on Aug 29, 2015, just before Yuneswaran’s judgment.

However, she was charged on Nov 3 last year and the prosecution had depended on the latter judgment to secure a conviction.

Puravelan had submitted that Chin could not be charged with an alleged offence that did not exist on Aug 29, following Nik Nazmi’s case.

On April 18 this year, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur dismissed Chin’s application to strike out the charge.

Judicial Commissioner Mohd Shariff Abu Samah had relied on the Yuneswaran judgment to hold the charge framed by the prosecution as valid.

Chin was charged with failing to give notice to the Brickfields district police before organising the rally in front of the NU Sentral shopping complex on Aug 29.

Meanwhile, the case of former Suhakam Commissioner Jannie Lasimbang, who is facing trial for organising the Bersih 4 rally in Kota Kinabalu last year has been rescheduled.

“My case was scheduled today for continued hearing but taken off the list in view of the government’s appeal to the Federal Court,” she said.

In Lasimbang’s case, the prosecution had closed its case after calling 13 witnesses and was awaiting a decision from the magistrate whether defence needed to be called.

Lasimbang is accused of organising a gathering at the Likas Bay public park on Aug 28 and 29 without giving a 10-day notice to the Kota Kinabalu City Hall prior to the event.