DAP MPs to be charged for Bersih 4 participation

KUCHING - Two DAP MPs from Sarawak are expected to be charged today for taking part in Bersih 4 Kuching last August.

They could be disqualified as elected representatives for five years, if found guilty.

Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen, who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman, and Stampin MP Julian Tan were served with summonses and charge sheets by police at state DAP headquarters yesterday.

They are alleged to have contravened Section 4(2)(c) of the Peaceful Assembly Act in a street protest from Hilton Kuching to Song Kheng Hai rugby pitch, the venue of Bersih 4 here.

Chong, who is seeking re-election as Kota Sentosa assemblyman, said the charges were the first under the act for any elected representative in relation to the rally.

He said it was "political prosecution", timed just as the Sarawak election were coming around the corner.

"Anyone fined more than RM2,000 (S$651) would be disqualified as an MP or state assembly representative and prohibited from standing for election and hold any political party posts," Chong told reporters.

If convicted, they could be fined up to RM10,000 each.

Chong, who is Sarawak DAP chief, expressed dismay at the turn of events, noting that the Sarawak government had expressly given the green light for the rally to be held.

Police permits and council approvals were also given for the rally at Song Kheng Hai on Aug 29.

"Despite the state government's consent for the rally, despite us gathering at the allowed and specific points, we are still prosecuted, maybe because the election is coming," Chong said.

Chong and Tan would be represented by Yap Hoi Liong, who is DAP's Dudong assemblyman.

Yap said Kuching district police chief ASP Roslan Bek Ahmad would probably be called as a witness.

"More lawyers will be joining us in this very important case, which will have great implications for Sarawak DAP in light of the state election expected to be held in March or April," he said.