23 September, 2008

Raja Petra detained for two years; habeas corpus application became an academic exercise

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 23, 2008) : Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Syed Albar has ordered blogger Raja Petra Raja Kamaruddin to be detained under the Internal Security Act for a period of two years, effectively making a habeas corpus application for his release an academic exercise.

- The Sun

Senior Federal Counsel Abdul Wahab Mohamad informed High Court Judge Suraya Othman at the start of the application hearing today that the minister had signed the detention order under Section 8(1) of the ISA on Monday afternoon, and that Raja Petra is now at the Kamunting Detention Centre in Perak.

He said this when raising a preliminary objection to Raja Petra's lawyer, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar's request for the court to proceeding with hearing the habeas corpus application.

Wahab said since Raja Petra is no longer detained by the police as defined under Section 73(1), the issue has become academic and the application should be struck out.

He added the respondent in the case is now no longer the Inspector-General of Police, but is now the minister.

(Under Section 73(1), a person can be detained for up to 60 days and the court has the power to look into the basis of the detention. However, under Section 8 (1), the Home Minister gives the detention order, renewable for up to two years, and the court has the power to look into the procedural grounds of the detention).

Malik Imtiaz, however, argued that the court should proceed with the case as the question of detention under Section 73(1) is relevent to the challenge on the Section 8(1) order.

He said the Minister's detention order flows from the police detention order.

Malik said told reporters he would file a separate "habeas corpus" application for the order under Section 8(1)).

Judge Suraya said the habeas corpus application must be on the current order.

"The detention by the police has ceased and superceeded by the Minister's order. We should not look at what happened before but at the current order," she said.

Malik said his application "definitely has a bearing on Raja Petra and it affects his liberty" under the Federal Constitution and asked the court to proceed with the application.

Suraya asked both parties to put in written submission and fixed Oct 28 to hear the case again.

At the same court, Suraya struck out Member of Parliament for Seputeh Teresa Kok's "habeas corpus" application.

Abdul Wahab said the application had become academic as Kok had been released.

(Both Raja Petra and Kok were detained under the ISA on Sept 12. The latter was released on Sept 19.)

Kok's lawyer Karpal Singh asked the court to make comments on the case but Suraya said the court cannot give any remedy or comments as there were no facts before her. She said she should not make any ruling as it is academic.

"There is nothing for me to decide, at the moment," said Suraya. Then, Karpal withdrew the application and Suraya struck out the matter.

-- theSun

More news here.

Meanwhile, the police recorded a statement from a Malaysian university student in Taiwan who insulted the national anthem "Negaraku" and mocked the government through a video.

Wee Meng Chee, 25, accompanied by his parents, was seen entering the Commercial Crime Investigation Department's cyber and multimedia investigation division at the Bukit Perdana Government Complex here about 10.30am.

The police spent about three hours recording his statement.

"It was just a normal interview... I was asked to sign on a lyric (of the Negaraku song which he renamed 'Negarakuku' and written in Chinese). They asked me to translate (the lyrics into Bahasa Malaysia)," he told reporters after the interview by the police.

When asked by reporters whether he would be charged and under what section of the law, Wee said: "I don't know, I just play music, I don't play law."

Wee, who goes by the nickname, 'Namewee', in a video clip, had sung the "Negaraku" littered with obscenities. The national anthem "Negaraku" was renamed "Negarakuku" in the five-minute, 32-second video clip on a website in July last year.

Meanwhile, the division's assistant director, ACP Mohd Kamarudin Md Din, said the police had just begun their investigation into the case.

"The case is not closed yet, it is still under investigation... once finished, we will refer (the case) to the deputy public prosecutor," he said when contacted, adding that the case was being investigated under the Sedition Act.

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