KUALA LUMPUR: Controversial couple Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee yesterday pleaded not guilty at the Sessions Court here to three charges related to their action in posting their Ramadan ‘bak kut teh’ greeting on their Facebook page and pornographic pictures in their blogs.
The charges against Alvin Tan or his full name, Tan Jye Yee, 25, and Vivian Lee or Lee May Ling, 24, were read before judge Murtazadi Amran.
In the first charge, they were jointly accused of making a seditious posting on “Alvin and Vivian – Alvivi” Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/alvivi.swingers) by uploading a photo of themselves eating bak kut teh (a pork dish) with the greeting ‘Selamat Berbuka Puasa with bak kut teh …fragrant, delicious and appetising’ together with the ‘halal’ logo.
They allegedly committed the offence at 10.48pm between July 11 and 12 at 568-14-18, Kompleks Mutiara Jalan Ipoh, Mile 3 1/2 here. They were charged under subsection 4 (1) (c) of the Sedition Act 1948 which is punishable under subsection 4 (1) of the same Act and read together with Section 34 of the Code Penal.
For the first offence, they face a fine up to RM5,000, an imprisonment up to three years or both, and imprisonment up to five years for subsequent offence.
In the second charge, Tan and Lee were accused of displaying pornographic pictures on http://alviviswingers.tumblr.com/ at the same place between 9pm and 2am between July 6 and 7. They were charged under subsection 5 (1) of the Film Censorship Act 2002 which is punishable under subsection 5 (2) of the same Act which carries a fine of between RM10,000 and RM50,000 or imprisonment of up to five years or both, if convicted.
They were accused of uploading on their Facebook page the same picture and comment which were likely to cause religious enmity between people of different faiths.
The content was read at CAF – Syed Restaurant, Jalan Dang Wangi here at 10.48pm between July 11 and 12.
They were charged under Section 298A (1) (a) of the Penal Code which carries imprisonment of between two and five years, if convicted.
The couple looked unperturbed when the charges were read to them individually and they also responded individually by saying, “I asked to be tried”.
Judge Murtazadi denied bail for both accused after taking public interest into account. He said the court was not affected by external elements in deciding on the bail.
Earlier, Deputy Public Prosecutor Noorin Badaruddin asked the court not to grant bail to the accused as the charges under Section 298A (1) (a) of the Penal Code and the Film Censorship Act were non-bailable offences.
“Of course, we accept the court discretion to allow bail on the wo charges, but the prosecution objected to any bail granted until the trial is over,” he said.
Noorin said secondly, both accused had a tendency to upload pictures that could arouse public outrage. The lawyer representing both accused applied for bail for both of them on the ground that the charges had yet to be proven and was premature in nature.
Chong Joo Tian said the prosecution could not pre-empt that the accused had a tendency to commit similar offences as they had yet to be found guilty.
“Both my clients gave full cooperation to the MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) and the police during investigations and they do not have any criminal record and the offence they were accused of do not involve any form of violence,” he said.
On the other hand, deputy public prosecutor Ishak Mohd Yusoff argued that the court should take the surrounding circumstances into account in determining whether bail could be granted.
“Alvin Tan is a household name and if we were to ‘Google’ only the name Alvin, pictures and articles about him will pop up, for which, if it is not controlled, it can destroy the society and religion. No doubt it does not involve violence, but it is a serious offence,” he said.
Noorin asked for the three cases to be tried together under Section 170 of the Criminal Procedure Code as they entailed the same transaction and witnesses.
However, Chong asked for the second charge to be tried separately as the first and third charges involved posting pornographic pictures on different websites.
Noorin said Section 170 allowed criminal offences to be tried together even though all the three cases were different and the prosecution would prove the offences occurred in the same transaction.
Murtazadi allowed the three cases to be tried together and set Aug 23 for mention. He also gave an opportunity to the two accused to state their reasons why bail should be granted to them.
Tan said, “I want a bail. I do not have any power, position, wealth, employment or job. And all my multimedia items have been confiscated by the MCMC which would affect my tendency to upload photos and access the Internet.”
Lee, who is a kindergarten teacher, said: “I would also like to be given bail and I have the same opinion as Alvin.”
Tan is held at the Sungai Buloh Prison while Lee at the Kajang Prison. — Bernama