KUALA LUMPUR: The status of Tian Chua as the MP for Batu continues to hang in the balance as Pakatan Rakyat lawyers noted that he could be disqualified based on the High Court's ruling yesterday.
Lawyer and Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng told FMT that one does not need to be a legal expert to interpret Article 48 of the Federal Constitution.
Article 48 states that any parliamentarian convicted of a crime and sentenced to a jail term of more than a year or a fine of RM2,000 and above would be disqualified as MP.
"You don't need to be a lawyer to interpret this. A by-election is possible," said the DAP leader.
Tian Chua's lawyers are in the process of getting a clarification from High Court judge Ghazali Cha over his judgment, where he reduced the Magistrate's Court's RM3,000 fine imposed on Tian Chua to avoid a by-election.
The PKR leader was charged with causing hurt to a policeman.
"We are currently seeking clarification on this with the judge. We would know of the decision most likely in the evening," said lawyer Amer Hamzah.
Meanwhile, Lim said since the judge gave the impression that he was sticking to his decision, the onus was now on the Election Commission (EC) to decide if the Batu seat should be vacated.
"Either the judge made a blunder or he wanted to let Tian Chua choose between a fine and jail sentence. Tian Chua chose the fine, and he already paid the amount. This means it is irrevocable.
"Also once the judge has come off from the bench and delivered his judgment, he cannot review it so it is now up to the EC to decide," he explained.
DAP's Puchong MP and lawyer Gobind Singh Deo had also said that a by-election would be imminent if Tian Chua was fined RM2,000.
His father, prominent lawyer and Batu Gelugor DAP MP, Karpal Singh, concurred with the interpretation.
Citing the 1975 case of DAP MP Fan Yew Ting, Karpal said the Dewan Rakyat speaker declared the Menglembu seat vacant after Fan was convicted under the Sedition Act and fined RM2,000.
PKR ready for by-election but...
In a related matter, PKR's elections director Fuziah Salleh told FMT that the party was preparing for the possibility of a by-election.
"We are always ready and prepared," she said, but hoped that the court would review its decision as another by-election would be a waste of taxpayers' money.
Pakatan parties have clinched eight out of the 11 by-elections over the last two years, with DAP being the latest with an uprecedented victory in Sibu, Sarawak, in May.
Batu has a mixed electorate with 44% Malays, 20% Chinese and 18% Indians. In the 2008 general election, Tian Chua defeated Gerakan's Lim Si Pin with a thumping 9,455 majority.