Court orders arrest of blogger Alvin Tan for not returning passport

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KUALA LUMPUR (June 13): The Sessions Court here today issued a warrant of arrest for controversial blogger Alvin Tan for failing to surrender back his passport to the court after it was released to him for travel to Singapore. Judge Abdul Rashid Daud issued the order following a request by deputy public prosecutor Haffiza Jemali. "The accused had requested for the temporary release of his passport last May 18 and would return it before June 4, but he had failed to do so," said Haffiza. Lawyer Chong Joo Tian, representing Tan, did not object to it, saying that he was not able to contact Tan after he took possession of the passport. The court then set July 18 for mention.

On May 12, Abdul Rashid had granted an application by Tan and his partner,  Vivian Lee May Ling, also an accused in the case, to have their passports released. Abdul Rashid Daud made the order after Chong told the court that his clients would be in Singapore to shoot a documentary film on their lives there. The couple were allowed to retain their passports between May 18 and June 3 to enable them to travel to the island republic. Lee, who was in court today, surrendered her passport on June 3. Alvin Tan or his full name, Tan Jye Yee, 26, and Vivian Lee or Lee May Ling, 25, were charged with making a seditious posting on "Alvin and Vivian - Alvivi" Facebook by uploading a photograph of themselves eating bak kut teh, a pork dish, with the greeting, "Selamat Berbuka Puasa with bak kut teh...fragrant, delicious and appetising" with the "halal" logo.

The offence under the Sedition Act 1948, was allegedly committed between July 11 and 12, at Kompleks Mutiara, Jalan Ipoh, 3 1/2 Mile, here. The two were also charged under the Film Censorship Act 2002 for displaying pornographic pictures on https://alviviswingers.tumblr.com/ at the same place between 9pm, July 6 and 2am, July 7, 2013. Last April 23, the prosecution filed an appeal at the Federal Court against a decision by the Court of Appeal, made on April 21, in dropping one of three charges against the couple, on grounds that it was not applicable to non-Muslims.