KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 – The prosecution have faith in sex blogger Alvin Tan Jye Yee returning to Malaysia to accompany his girlfriend face their two joint “bah kut teh” charges. Deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin told the Sessions Court this today when judge Abdul Rashid Daud asked why Tan had been absent from proceedings since June.
Tan and his girlfriend, Vivian Lee May Ling, were charged over a controversial online “Bah Kut Teh” Hari Raya greeting. They were temporarily given back their passports on May 12, so they could go to Singapore to film a documentary. Tan, however, failed since then to turn up in court to return his passport and an arrest warrant was issued against him.
He is now alleged to be in the United States, seeking political asylum from its government. Wan Shaharuddin told Abdul Rashid that Tan would not want Lee to face the charges alone. “If he dared to “berkata-kata”(hurl accusations) against the court and “PDRM” (the Royal Malaysian Police) while outside the country, surely he will not let his girlfriend (Lee) face the charges by herself,” he said.
Wan Shaharuddin was referring to recent online postings about several Malaysian leaders that included the Prime Minister, the Inspector-General of Police and the Home Minister, by a Facebook account purportedly belonging to Tan. Police are currently investigating the social media postings under the Sedition Act 1948 as the postings were purportedly of an insulting and inflammatory nature.
When Abdul Rashid asked where was Lee, who was absent from proceedings today, Wan Shaharuddin answered that she was previously granted exemption from attending pre-trial mentions. Abdul Rashid then told Lee’s counsel Nur Adilah Rashid Daud to ensure her client attend proceedings after this because the matter is of public interest. He then fixed Nov 28 for mention of the arrest warrant against Tan.
Tan, 26, and Lee, 25, were charged on July 18 last year with:
UPLOADING a picture of them eating “bak kut teh” (a pork soup dish) with the caption “Selamat Berbuka Puasa with bak kut teh”, which was likely to stir interfaith conflict, at a restaurant in Dang Wangi on July 11 and 12 last year.
PUBLISHING inciting content, namely the same picture and caption, on their Facebook account.
POSTING pornographic pictures on their now-defunct sex blog between July 6 and 7 last year at the same place.
The Court of Appeal, on April 21, had allowed the bloggers’ application to strike out the second charge involving the stirring of hostility between religions. The prosecution has filed an appeal against the verdict and the Federal Court had fixed mention on Oct 28 to fix a date to hear the appeal. Abdul Rashid had issued an arrest warrant against Tan on June 13, when he failed to turn up for that day’s mention. Tan also failed to turn up for mention on July 18, Aug 22 and today.