KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian opposition politician Tian Chua on Monday (April 30) filed a suit against the Election Commission (EC) and its returning officer for barring him from defending his parliamentary seat of Batu in Kuala Lumpur on nomination day last Saturday.
His lawyer, Ngeow Chow Ying, said that they were seeking a court declaration that Mr Chua, who is Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president, is qualified to contest in Malaysia’s general election on May 9.
“We filed an originating summons to ask for a declaration that Tian Chua is qualified and entitled to be a candidate for the parliamentary seat. We asked for a declaration that his nomination paper should be accepted by the respondents which are the EC and the EC officer,” Ms Ngeow told The Straits Times.
Mr Chua was disqualified from defending his seat on Saturday by returning officer Anwar Mohd Zain, who said that the RM2,000 fine imposed on him in March this year for insulting a police officer made him ineligible to contest.
Malaysian law disqualifies an MP from public office if he is sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year or to a fine of not less than RM2,000.
Ms Ngeow noted that Mr Chua was allowed to contest in the last general elections in 2013 despite another conviction where he was also fined RM2,000.
“Our grounds are that the law has been settled, that only a fine of RM2,001 should disqualify him,” she said. “Nobody raised this issue then. He became a Member of Parliament in the last general election and he has been performing his duties,” she said.
She added that the Shah Alam High Court Judge Abdul Karim Abdul Rahman and Parliament speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia had both earlier ruled that the fine did not disqualify Mr Chua from holding office at the time.
“This time the EC decision is actually a defiance of the court decision. It is also challenging the doctrine of the separation of powers,” she said.
EC chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah had on Saturday said that Mr Chua could submit a petition to court and that the EC would abide by any decision made by the court.
The case will be heard on Thursday.
Mr Chua has held Batu for two terms from 2008.
The hotly-contested seat will now see a fight between the ruling Barisan Nasional, the Islamist Parti Islam SeMalaysia and two independent candidates.