Double standards in application of law

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By Azmi Sharom

It would seem that there is one set of laws to be used for opposition politicians, and another set to be used for those who support the ruling party.

Tian Chua was charged under the Penal Code for “outraging the modesty” of a policeman and he was fined RM3,000, which means that he could lose his parliamentary seat.

And what did he do actually? Did he touch the policeman in an inappropriate manner? No, he had called the individual some names and used a four-letter-word. Names and words which you can hear in any given traffic jam or football match.

The case is still going on as Tian Chua is appealing the sentence, so it is possible that if he succeeds the new penalty might be below the RM2,000 threshold which would have put his political career on hold.

Part of me wonders who this policeman is. I mean he must be a real gentle soul to have his modesty outraged by words that even teenagers use on one another.

Anyway, compare this with the case of the people who attacked Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad on the grounds of Parliament.

Umno MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman’s son and his gang verbally abused Khalid and tried to physically attack him on the grounds of Parliament. It was captured on video. And yet they were charged not under the Penal Code but under the Minor Offences Act which carries a fine of not more than RM100.

This is so ridiculous. A group of men attacking a parliamentarian on the grounds of Parliament are given a fine which is less than the fine if you are caught smoking in a non-smoking place.

When compared with the severity of the punishment against Tian Chua, it goes to show that double standards are being applied here.

The government appears to care not at all about the sanctity of our Parliament nor the safety of our lawmakers. Let us not forget when a group of Umno people actually invaded the Penang state legislative assembly. There does not seem to be any attempt at impartiality.

If you are Umno or Umno-related people, you can get away with the most obnoxious behaviour with hardly a slap on the wrist. But if you are an opposition politician, then Lord help you as they will punish you disproportionately for the slightest thing.

The decision in the Khalid Samad assault case is an indictment on the sad state of affairs our country is in.

Azmi Sharom is a law lecturer at Universiti Malaya.

This commentary was first published in Sin Chew Daily.

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