GEORGETOWN, March 13 – I refer to the decision by the George-town Magistrate’s Court on 11 March 2015, in relation to the guilty plea on an alternative charge under section 447 of the Penal Code, by 16 men accused of trespassing the State Legislative Assembly Building on 21 May 2014. The imposition of a fine of RM1,500.00 in relation of the 15 accused persons and RM1,000 in relation to the one accused person, in my view, is wholly inadequate and disproportionate to the severity of the offence for which they stood convicted, and is but a slap on the wrist.
The State Legislative Assembly is constituted under the Constitution of the State of Penang and proves to be a restricted area which may be accessed by the Speaker, State Executive Councillors and State Assemblymen and those who had obtained prior consent. It is a place that must be accorded the highest respect. The act of committing criminal trespass into the State Legislative Building is not only unprecedented but must be penalized appropriately so as to deter such incidents from ever re-occurring.
It should be noted that the 16 accused persons had originally claimed trial to an offence under section 448 of the Penal Code which prescribes “who ever commits house trespass shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine which may extend to RM5,000.00, or with both”. The alternative charge under section 447 to which they pleaded guilty, prescribes “who ever commits criminal trespass shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 6 months, or with fine which may extend to RM3,000.00, or with both”.
It should further be noted that even the Penang Prosecution Unit Head, Datuk Razali Che Ani had in fact urged the court to meet out a deterent sentence. Having regard to the circumstances above, I call upon the prosecution to lodge an appeal to the High Court against the said sentence of a fine between RM1,000.00 to RM1,500.00 in relation to the said 16 men accused of committing criminal trespass so that a more appropriate and proportionate sentence would be handed down, bearing in mind the severity of the crime committed.