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Court rejects controversial bloggers' application to strike out charge

Court rejects controversial bloggers' application to strike out charge
Vivian Lee and Alvin Tan - Filepic BERNAMA
KUALA LUMPUR: The Kuala Lumpur High Court today dismissed an application by controversial bloggers Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee to strike out one of three charges against them which ridiculed Muslims and Ramadan.

It ruled that the charge faced by the couple, who uploaded pictures on Facebook with the comment, Selamat Berbuka Puasa with bak kut teh...fragrant, delicious and appetising was valid.
Judge Kamardin Hashim ruled that the charges faced by the couple under Section 298A (1) (a) of the Penal Code was a 'good' law and did not clash with the Federal Constitution and should not be revoked under Article 4 (1) of the Constitution.

In dismissing the application of the couple to cancel one of the three charges they faced, he said the application had no merit.
Kamardin said Section 298A (1) (a) of the Penal Code was applicable to all races and universally valid and enforceable, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion of a person and that section applied to both the applicants in this case.

On Aug 21, Alvin whose full name is Tan Jye Yee, 25, and Vivian or Lee May Ling, 24, filed an application to quash the charge they faced under Section 298A(1)(a) of the Penal Code.

They sought an order to declare that Section 298A of the Act was inconsistent and contradictory to the Federal Constitution and could not be enforced against them, and that even if the charge was lawful, it only applied to Muslims.

The charge pertained to uploading a picture of them eating 'bak kut teh', and accompanied by a caption, 'Selamat Berbuka Puasa with bak kut teh' (fragrant, delicious and appetising) which was likely to stir interfaith conflict at a restaurant in Dang Wangi on July 11 and 12.

The controversial pair are also jointly charged under the Incitement Act 1948 with publishing inciting content, namely the same picture and caption on their Facebook link https://www.facebook.com/alvivi.swingers at 568-14-18, Kompleks Mutiara Jalan Ipoh, Batu 3 1/2 here.

The third charge under the Film Censorship Act 2002 involves the posting of pornographic pictures on http://alviviswingers.tumblr.com/, between July 6 and 7 at the same place.

Meanwhile, when approached by reporters outside the court, Tan accompanied by Lee, once again apologised for their action.

"Vivian and I would like to apologise one more time. We regret our action and we did not intend to harm anybody. We will definitely never (not) ever do it again, he said.

The duo's counsel, Chong Joo Tian said an application would be filed with the Attorney-General's Chambers to have the charges against the couple dropped.

Prior to this, the Sessions Court here set Dec 5 and 6 for hearing of the case.

The prosecution is conducted by Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin and Haffiza Jemali.