Chua Tian Chang

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Yang Berhormat Tuan
Chua Tian Chang
MP
蔡添强
Member of the Malaysian Parliament
for Batu, Kuala Lumpur
Incumbent
Assumed office
8 March 2008
Preceded by Ng Lip Yong
Majority 9,455
Vice-President of People's Justice Party
Incumbent
Assumed office
2008
Information Chief People's Justice Party
In office
2004–2008
Succeeded by Muhammad Nur Manuty
Personal details
Born (1963-12-21) 21 December 1963 (age 51)
Melaka, Malaysia
Political party PKRPakatan Rakyat
Occupation Politician

Chua Tian Chang (born 21 December 1963), better known as Tian Chua (Simplified Chinese;蔡添强 / Traditional Chinese;蔡添强), is a Malaysian politician and is currently the Member of Parliament for the Batu constituency in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He is vice-president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, an opposition party in the Parliament of Malaysia. He formerly served as information chief of the party.

Tian Chua first burst into the limelight in 1999 when images of him sitting defiantly in front of a police water cannon truck were splashed across the global media during the height of the Reformasi movement in Malaysia due to the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim as Deputy Prime Minister.

Between 27 and 30 September 1999, Tian Chua and six other activists, including Keadilan leaders; Youth leader Mohd Ezam Mohd Nor, Mohamed Azmin Ali and Dr Badrul Amin Baharun; were arrested and as a result prevented from contesting in the 1999 general elections.[1] Further arrests were made on 10 April 2001 and those arrested were subsequently charged and incarcerated under the Internal Security Act.[2] They became known as the Reformasi 10.[3]

In the 2008 general elections, Tian Chua contested in the Batu parliamentary constituency in Kuala Lumpur and won, defeating Barisan Nasional's Lim Si Pin (son of former national president of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia Lim Keng Yaik) with a 9,455 majority.

Early life[edit]

Born in Melaka on 21 December 1963, he was the eldest of four siblings. His father, Chua Neo Lai, 71, is of Hakka descent and was a rice wholesaler. His late mother, Chan Yuet Chien, was a Chinese schoolteacher.[4]

Chua was educated in Siang Lin Primary School and Malacca Catholic High School. He then studied Lower Six in Gajah Berang High School.

In 1982, Tian went to continue his studies in Australia. He first studied Matriculation in South Sydney High School. After completing HSC, he got admitted into Agricultural Science in Sydney University.

“I wanted to be a scientist and invent things, like (Thomas) Edison. I got interested in the agro-sciences as I wanted to study things that could be useful," recalls Chua.[4]

But in his third year, he switched to Philosophy at the University of New South Wales. Australia in the 1980s was a hotbed for student activists. "My father had hoped I'd study law for good future prospects. But I became exposed to peace movements, environmental issues, and human rights situations around the world.”

He became an active student leader and was involved in student movement under the Network of Overseas Student Collectives (NOSCA) and Left Alliance. His mates included Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran, co-founders of news website Malaysiakini. Together, they protested against the imposition of university fees on foreign students started by Bob Hawke's administration in 1985.[4]

Chua had his first taste of arrest when he was locked up after a demonstration in Sydney. He was also recruited by East Timor then leader-in-exile, now president Ramos Horta to help prepare newsletters.[4]

Early career[edit]

Upon returning to Malaysia in 1990, he joined SUARAM in the campaign against Internal Security Act (ISA). He also began to get involved in the labour movement in Malaysia. In 1992, he joined Hong Kong-based Asia Monitor Resource Center (AMRC), a regional labour research NGO.

After his contract in Hong Kong ended, he went for further studies in the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, The Netherlands. He graduated with Masters in Employment & Labour Studies. Tian again returned to Malaysia in 1996 and continued to pursue a trail of life as social activist.

In 1997, Tian was appointed the director of Labour Resource Centre (LRC). The centre was found in 1990 by a group of trade unionists and labour activists. He was also in the Board of SUARAM.

In 1998, SUARAM initiated a forum comprised NGOs and opposition parties known as Gagasan Demokrasi Rakyat Malaysia. The forum was officially launched during the saga of Anwar Ibrahim and Reformasi. Tian was elected the chairperson of the movement.

Detention under ISA[edit]

Chua was involved with the Reformasi movement in Malaysia in 1999 due to the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim as Deputy Prime Minister. He became famous when images of him sitting defiantly in front of a police water cannon truck were splashed across the global media during the height of the movement.

Between 27 and 30 September 1999, Tian Chua and six other activists, including Keadilan leaders; Youth leader Mohd Ezam Mohd Nor, Mohamed Azmin Ali and Dr Badrul Amin Baharun; were arrested and as a result prevented from contesting in the 1999 general elections.[1] Further arrests were made on 10 April 2001 and those arrested were subsequently charged and incarcerated under the Internal Security Act.[2] They became known as the Reformasi 10.[3]

At the Kamunting detention camp, Chua kept himself busy by dabbling in his love for drawing and painting.

He drew the insects that entered his cell and made over 100 Hari Raya and Chinese New Year cards for friends and family. He had much time to read (including heavy tomes like Homer's Iliad, and learnt Thai, Norwegian, Arabic, French and Sanskrit, which he has mostly forgotten now.

Tian Chua spent two years in detention under the Internal Security Act (Malaysia) and numerous times in police lock-ups for championing various causes since 1996.

Political involvement[edit]

In 1999, Tian Chua was invited to join the newly founded Parti Keadilan Nasional headed by Dr Wan Azizah. He was then elected the national vice-president. In 2004, KeADILan merged with Parti Rakyat Malaysia and formed Parti Keadilan Rakyat. Tian was appointed the Information Chief, a post held until today.

He has manned the Parti Keadilan Rakyat service centre in the heart of Sentul since it was opened in 2004.

In the 2008 general elections, Tian Chua contested in the Batu parliamentary constituency in Kuala Lumpur and won, defeating Barisan Nasional's Lim Si Pin with a 9,455 majority. Tian Chua won for the second time in the Batu, Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysian 2013 general election, defeating Barisan Nasional's Dominic Lau Hoe Chai with 13,284 majority.

Areas that come under his Batu constituency include Sentul. The constituency has the most Projek Perumahan Rakyat (PPR) public housing apartments and one of the highest rates of petty crime in the city.

Now that he is a lawmaker himself, Tian Chua has pledged not to change his ways:

Election results[edit]

Parliament of Malaysia: P115 Batu, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur[5]
Year Pakatan Rakyat Votes Pct Barisan Nasional Votes Pct Ballots cast Turnout
2008 Chua Tian Chang (PKR) 29,785 58.06% Lim Si Pin (Gerakan) 20,330 39.63% 51,303 72.72%
2013 Chua Tian Chang (PKR) 41,672 58.0% Dominic Lau Hoe Chai (Gerakan) 28,288 39.3% 71,988 84.29%

In popular culture[edit]

In 2009, Tian Chua took the lead role in a science fiction short film titled One Future, which depicted Malaysia as an Orwellian dystopia. The character's fate at the hands of the authorities in the film mirrors aspects of Tian Chua's own public life.

Parliamentarian and use of social media[edit]

Tian Chua tweets regularly and uses the social media to advocate his thoughts and beliefs.

Issues[edit]

Attacking a policeman[edit]

In a 2009 demonstration in front of the parliament, Tian Chua allegedly bit a policeman on his arm and said to have caused injuries. Tian Chua was charged for causing hurt and obstructing a civil servant from doing his duty. He was charged under Section 332 of the Penal Code and can be jailed up to three years or fine or both if convicted.[6]

Accusation of sedition[edit]

In March 2013, commenting through Twitter, he had hinted that the Lahad Datu standoff between Sultan of Sulu followers and the Royal Malaysian Police blockade which had resulted from an armed incursion of these followers. Following a tense blockade, a firefight erupted which resulted in deaths of 2 policemen[7] Tian Chua refused to apologise for his comments that the standoff was staged by the ruling government, and refused to retract his statement as well standing fast that the 'standoff' itself was staged by the ruling government.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Aliran : The Rakyat have Awakened and They want Justice
  2. ^ a b Amnesty International : Malaysia: Fear of torture or ill-treatment / incommunicado detention / prisoners of conscience
  3. ^ a b Human Rights Watch : The Anwar Case and the Reformasi 10
  4. ^ a b c d From lawbreaker to lawmaker, The Star, 20 April 2008
  5. ^ "Malaysia Decides 2013". Malaysiakini. Retrieved 19 April 2013.  Results only available from the 2004 election.
  6. ^ Archives. "‘Tian Chua’s bite on cop similar to biting sugarcane’", The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 1 April 2009. Retrieved on 19 March 2013.
  7. ^ "Lahad Datu: Two police commandos dead, four others injured". The Star (Malaysia).