3 M’sians, 2 Indonesians fined for BERSIH protest

National 1 minute, 29 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THREE Malaysians and two Indonesians were fined by the Magistrate’s Court yesterday for participating in a ‘BERSIH 4’ protest outside Brunei’s Jame’ ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah last August, which called for the ouster of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The group was charged with unlawful assembly “held for the expression of views on matters of public interest”.

The organiser of the protest, Choo Chor Hiang, 42, was fined $2,000, while the remaining defendants – Seyu Ah Ling, Chan Mee Eng, Asep Mamad and Dede Irpan – were fined $300 each.

The group held the demonstration outside Brunei’s landmark Jame’ ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah on August 29, 2015 – a day when a series of rallies were being held by Malaysians worldwide calling for clean government in the wake of the 1MDB scandal.

The protest was decidedly small – the five defendants were joined by five other Malaysians who were in Brunei that weekend to take part in a property expo. The group took several photographs dressed in yellow t-shirts bearing the words ‘I Love Brunei’ and prepared a ‘BERSIH 4’ banner to show support for the movement. The pictures were subsequently uploaded to Facebook and went viral, bringing it to the attention of local authorities.

Senior Magistrate Hj Nabil Daraina PUKDPSSU Hj Badaruddin said the defendants did not have a permit for the gathering from the Commissioner of Police, rendering the meeting “illegal”.

The defendants should have been “more sensitive to local social norms”, said Hj Nabil, having worked in Brunei most of their lives. “If the matter had gone to trial, the court may have considered a higher fine,” he added.

At the end of court proceedings yesterday, all defendants paid the fine. The materials used in the protest – the yellow t-shirts and the banner – were forfeited to the state.

The Brunei Times