Amend laws to protect MPs from disqualification, says Kit Siang

By Clara Chooi (Malaysian Insider)
KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 — DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang asserted today that laws governing the disqualification of MPs should be amended to better protect legally elected representatives from being ejected from the House so easily.
He said the amendments could help avoid disputes like the ongoing one over PKR’s Chua Tian Chang’s status as the Batu MP which, he said, mirrored an “overall pattern of harassment” against Pakatan Rakyat representatives.
“What is important on the overall is that MPs should not be so easily subject to disqualification.
“This RM2,000 fine cap, which was put in the statute books decades ago, should be amended to take into account the change in circumstances like inflation,” he said.
As an example, Lim (picture) said the RM2,000 fine limit to disqualify an MP from his seat should be revised to RM20,000.
He also said that it did not make sense that the RM2,000 fine imposed on Chua by the High Court judge last week was in default two months’ jail, which was far less than the one-year jail term limit stipulated in the law governing the disqualification of MPs.
He slammed Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar for suggesting earlier that Chua could have chosen to go to jail for two months instead of paying the RM2,000 fine to avoid losing his seat.
“The two-month jail term is not a disqualifying sentence but it is ridiculous that Chua has to choose between a fine or a jail sentence to keep his seat,” he pointed out.
Lim reiterated that in view of such a discrepancy, law reforms were needed to avoid such a situation.
“The Constitution should be amended for this purpose,” he said.
Article 48 of the Constitution states that an MP should be disqualified from his seat if he is fined not less than RM2,000 for an offence or sentenced to a jail term of not less than one year.
In Chua’s case, his earlier sentence when he was found guilty of biting a police constable in 2007 was reduced from a RM3,000 fine in default six months’ jail to RM2,000 fine in default two months’ jail.
“No one wants a by-election. We do not want a by-election but the fact remains that in the interest of everyone, the law should be changed,” said Lim.