Apr 1, 2010

Matthias Chang won’t pay fine and is ready to go to jail

KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyer Matthias Chang will appear before the High Court today and surrender himself to be jailed after refusing to pay his RM20,000 fine for contempt of court.

Speaking to the press yesterday, Chang said he would not pay the fine as the law invoked in citing him for contempt was “an unjust and draconian law”, and was prone to abuse by judges.

He was found to be in contempt of court under Order 52a of the Rules of the High Court.

“I refuse to pay the fine and I am willing to go to jail in protest against such a draconian law.

“I had initially contemplated appealing to the Appellate Courts but realised that whatever the outcome, the draconian law will remain. I, therefore, decided not to appeal,” he said.

Chang had turned up in court at 3pm yesterday with his lawyers Manjit Singh, David Ho and T.E. Cheah to surrender but was instead informed that High Court judge Justice Noor Azian Shaari was on leave.

When asked if he was not concerned about the prison conditions, Chang replied: “If you oppose an unjust law, you must be prepared to face the consequences.

“You cannot be hypocritical. You cannot condemn an unjust law and yet want an easy way out.”

At about 4.20pm, Chang and his counsel were asked to meet deputy registrar K. Pavanni in chambers.

Chang later told reporters that he was informed by the court that he could not be committed to prison as he had until yesterday evening to pay the fine.

“The last chance for me to pay is this (Wednesday) evening.

“So, even though I have presented myself today, by law, they can only send me to prison tomorrow morning at the earliest. So, I’ll come again tomorrow at 9.30am,” he added.

On March 26, Chang, who was previously the political secretary to former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was fined RM20,000 in default of one month’s jail for contempt of court after a spat with Justice Noor Azian while the court was hearing his suit against American Express (M) Sdn Bhd for breach of contract and defamation.

Justice Noor Azian dismissed the suit the next day.

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