08 May, 2008

‘I want you home’

“I want you home”. These four words from his wife helped Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin to change his mind and agree to bail being posted.

His wife Marina Lee Abdullah, 54, said she had sent a note with the words via a prison warder on Wednesday. He had refused to allow any visitors after being taken to the Sungai Buloh Prison on Tuesday.

“My note helped him agree to bail being posted,” she told reporters after handing over her bank passbook for RM5,000 to a Petaling Jaya Sessions Court interpreter at 2pm to process bail application for her spouse.

Game on:Raja Petra ups the ante

Malay Mail

PROMINENT blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin has upped the ante by refusing to post a RM5,000 bail.

No, he is not your everyday salary man, finding it hard to get the money.

Many supporters are ready to chip in.

This latest sedition charge is probably the most serious “mind battle” he has fought.

The action arises out of an article he posted on his website attempting to connect the high and mighty with the murder of a Mongolian beauty.

By opting not to post bail, he is upping the ante where it counts most —in the battlefield that is public opinion where victory or defeat is won not on facts but on public perception of right or wrong, or victim and oppressor.

No matter what, Raja Petra wants the underdog tag be- cause, often, the public is for the battered little guy.

Going to prison and coming out a lot slimmer wins public applause more then anything else. Add in the bravado, and you have a explosive mix.

Civil society is already rooting for him going by the numerous comments slamming the authorities for invoking the archaic Sedition Act, 1948.

“In our view the sedition charge is malicious and without merit. It is also politically motivated and aimed at silencing one of the most eloquent, dedicated and uncompromising voices speaking in defence of the rights of Malaysians and against the abuse of power stemming from the highest level of government and authority,” said a joint statement from various NGOs.

Long before the trial starts, Raja Petra may have already won the war in the minds of the people.

Press Statement : Penang Chief Minister YAB Lim Guan Eng

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak Convinces No One By Saying That The Government Is Liberal And That Sedition Charges Against Blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin Is Not Politically Motivated When RPK Was Charged After Najib And His Wife Objected Against His Allegations Linking Them To The Altatunya Murder Trial.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak convinces no one by saying that the government is liberal and that sedition charges against blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin is not politically motivated when RPK was charged after Najib and his wife objected against his allegations linking them to the Altatunya Shaariibuu murder trial. With RPK being charged so soon after both of them objected to so called slanderous remarks online, the public can not be faulted for thinking that these charges were a directed act of vengeance.

On 2 May 2008 the Deputy Prime Minister’s press secretary Datuk Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad wrote in a letter to Malaysia Today that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will not hesitate to seek legal redress over unfounded and unfair allegations made against him in the case involving murdered Mongolian woman Altantuya. This follows Najib’s wife statement on 1 May against slanderous remarks against her. Despite such warnings of civil action of defamation, Najib has still not sued RPK who instead faced criminal charges of sedition.

This latest infringement of rights may be the beginning of Barisan Nasional’s crackdown on media freedom. This will also set a frightening precedent against online expression that will further erode media freedom in this country despite promises by the BN government.

DAP condemns the arrest of blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the editor of the internet news portal Malaysia Today, under the Sedition Act, and demands for his immediate release as well as withdrawal of charges. DAP hopes that all journalists and media associations can come out in solidarity and support for RPK by condemning RPK’s sedition charges.

We know that Raja Petra - who is charged with implying in a post on April 25 that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife were involved in the murder of a Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu - has been one of the vocal critics of the BN government and its cronies.

On the same day the posting was made (April 25) Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek told the press that media freedom should not be feared by anyone, including the ruling party, as it could also be the source of strength for the government and the country. Ahmad Shabery even said that the reform announced by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi recently such as the setting up of a judicial commission and introducing an Anti-Corruption Commission could be implemented more effectively in a free media environment.

Even Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar promised that he would review the country's repressive media laws to boost press freedom. “I have told my officers that I want to have a re-look at the Printing Presses and Publications Act so that we can move with the times,” he said, according to the Star on April 20.

Syed Hamid went further when he said, “We need press freedom in order for us to have a check and balance in government. We are not trying to control you but we want everyone to contribute to the nation-building process. Why should we let ourselves (government) become unpopular by having such regulations?”

The sad truth about this deteriorating situation pertaining to our press and other media is due to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s too many promises which he failed to deliver since he became Prime Minister in late 2003. After the recent political tsunami on 8 March 2008, it is now proven that talk is cheap.

Such empty promises also demonstrate that BN is not capable of reform, that BN can never accept criticisms and will always resort to repressive laws against the interest of the people.

Another anti-freedom attitude displayed by BN leaders is when Najib yesterday (May 7) inferred that the Attorney-General can decide whether action can taken against DAP chairman Karpal Singh for questioning the transfer and reappointment of the Perak Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JAIP) director. Malaysia is facing international condemnation and widespread public anger for charging RPK. Najib is strongly advised not to apply the same tactics of sedition used towards RPK on Karpal who is the National Chair of DAP.

When criticisms are perceived as threatening stability and public order, this means the BN government will never ever learn from the lesson of the March 8 political tsunami. While the voters are giving BN a second chance, its leaders are more interested in bullying the voice of conscience and the voice of the oppressed.

DAP demands that BN government immediately stop harassing bloggers, journalists and federal opposition leaders and supporters who are merely acting as good citizens in exposing wrongdoings of government leaders.



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