Tian Chua charged with refusing to leave police base after Bersih
UPDATED @ 05:17:09 PM 15-05-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang has become the first top opposition leader to be charged in relation to the April 28 Bersih rally in which the government has promised a full investigation into violence that marred the planned sit-in at Dataran Merdeka.
The Batu MP was charged in the Sessions Court here with refusing to leave the police training centre (Pulapol) here, where he had been detained along with over 500 others after some protestors had defied a court order barring them from entering the historic square over the weekend.
He pleaded not guilty to disobeying orders given by enforcement officer DSP A. Rajagopal at 2.30 the next morning to vacate the centre which is a place established as a protected area according to the Protected Areas Order (No. 2) 1975.
“I didn’t enter Pulapol voluntarily, I was arrested & brought into the ‘prohibited’ area, now I’m charged for entering the prohibited area,” he said in response to the charge on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Chua (picture), more popularly known as Tian Chua, was reported to be the last person to leave the base at about 5 in the morning after four hours of chaos the previous evening as police and protestors clashed in the streets of the capital.
He was released on RM500 bail but, if found guilty, can be jailed for up to two years and/or fined RM1,000.
When contacted by The Malaysian Insider, Chua explained that police wanted to release him but he asked if he could stay on to advise others who had been detained.
“I asked officers whether I can be released in the last batch and they agreed,” he said but a police officer then told him “you are provoking detainees to disobey my order” leading to his re-arrest at 2.30am.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak had pledged early this month that “credible, experienced and respectable” individuals would investigate the events during Bersih’s third rally for free and fair elections, which descended into chaos after police clashed with protestors.
But the prime minister then said the real purpose of the opposition-backed Bersih rally was to “fight, kick and strip the police” while his Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has claimed some participants wanted deaths to occur.
Police have detained 21 participants of the April 28 rally as of Sunday, and still waiting for 120 others to surrender by today after their faces were published in the media. It has said it does not need a warrant to round up the individuals involved in riots.
At least two individuals, including a PKR divisional leader, have so far been charged in relation to the rally for free and fair elections.
The April 28 rally, which saw tens of thousands gather at six different locations before heading to Dataran Merdeka, was peaceful until about 2.30pm when Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan asked the crowd to disperse.
But her call was not heard by most of the crowd who persisted around the historic square which the court had already barred to the public over the weekend.
Just before 3pm, some protestors breached the barricade surrounding the landmark, leading police to disperse the crowd with tear gas and water cannons.
Police then continued to pursue the rally-goers down several streets amid chaotic scenes which saw violence from both sides over the next four hours.