Another 10 by-elections on the cards, warns Bersih

Up to eight Pakatan MPs and two state reps could lose their seats as a result of charges involving illegal assemblies and related offences.

In addition to PKR MP Tian Chua (left) - who was found guilty last week of Abiting@ a police officer when stopped on his way to the Parliament in 2007 - seven of his colleagues could face a similar fate.

They are Azmin Ali, Sivarasa Rasiah, N Gobalakrishnan (PKR), Tony Pua (DAP), Dr Dzulkifly Ahmad, Dr Hatta Ramli and Dr Lo lo Mohd Ghazali (PAS).

"This would mean Pakatan Rakyat may be left with only 74 seats in Parliament," lamented Bersih, a broad coalition political parties and NGOs which campaigns for free and fair elections. With that, the ruling Barisan Nasional will have regained its two-thirds majority.

"Two (Selangor) DAP state assemblypersons - Ronnie Liu and Lau Weng San - may also become the victim of this wave of 'judicial crackdown' for illegal assembly."

Any elected representative who is fined above RM2,000 or sentenced to more than one year's jail would automatically forfeit their seats and be banned from contesting for five years after having served the punishment.

Judicial 'force' used to disqualify reps

On Thursday, Chua was fined RM3,000 and jailed six months after being found guilty of biting a police officer and preventing the latter from discharging his duty.

The Kuala Lumpur Magistrate's Court, however, allowed a stay of execution pending Chua's appeal. If upheld, the sentence would disqualify Chua from holding his MP's post.

Bersih, which described the court decision as Aselective prosecution@, warned that if the public does not protest against such "repression", up 10 elected opposition representatives could be similarly disqualified.

"Unfortunately, like in Perak, the judiciary acts as an unelected institution, is again used to topple elected representatives," said Bersih's spokesperson Faisal Mustaffa.

"The magistrate has conveniently privileged the testimony of the plaintiff over that of Tian Chua, when there is no single objective evidence that points to Tian Chua's alleged biting the policemen. And despite the police officer's admission of beating up Tian, he is not charged or suspended." TheMalaysiaInsider....