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RAJA PETRA PREFERS JAIL OVER BAIL

The same fate awaits you and I. What should you and I do? Several options come across my mind instantly. "Tap your chest and ask your appetite" goes the Malay proverb. Our appetite varies from day to day. Today one may like to eat satay. Tomorrow one may prefer chapati over tosei. But one's principle in life should not change as often as one's appetite or the weather. Good on you RPK.


PETALING JAYA (May 6, 2008):

Source: Sun2Surf

Police today slapped sedition charges on a blogger and an author, setting the stage for sensational trials later in the year.

The two men are Malaysia Today webmaster Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin and businessman and writer Syed Akbar Ali who had allegedly posted seditious remarks on the former's website. Both pleaded not guilty.

Raja Petra was charged in a sessions court here under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 with publishing a seditious article titled "Let's Send the Altantuya Murderers to Hell" in his blog www.malaysia-today.net on April 25. He allegedly committed the offence in his house, No. 5, Jalan BRP 5/5, Bukit Rahman Putra, Sungai Buloh.

The 58-year-old charismatic blogger caused a stir when he refused to take up judge Nurmala Salim's bail offer of RM5,000, choosing instead to go to Sungai Buloh prison, until the trial fixed for Oct 6-10.

If found guilty, Raja Petra can be jailed a maximum of three years and/or face a fine of up to RM5,000.

Raja Petra was represented by a six lawyers - Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh, K. Balaguru, PKR's Selayang MP William Leong, J. Chandra, DAP's Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng and Jeswinderjit Singh.

His prosecution was a media event at the court, with blogger friends and Pakatan Rakyat politicians supporting him. Among those who turned up were Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Ipoh Timur MP Lim Kit Siang and Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar.

Raja Petra had hours earlier turned up at the Duta Court Complex, where he was told to be by the police. However, after waiting for more than an hour, he received a call on his handphone from the police telling him to go to the PJ sessions court instead.

Raja Petra was vocal in condemning the sedition charge, saying that there was nothing to be worried about.

"I have been asked if this sedition charge is part of a war on bloggers. We bloggers declared war on the government four years ago. So it is not the government who has declared war on us. We want to change the government," said Raja Petra, who added that he was expecting to be charged.

He was detained under the Internal Security Act in 2001, and released the same year.

His departure to Sungai Buloh prison was met with bloggers shouting "Makkal Sathi", "Reformasi" and "Suara Petra, Suara Malaysia".

Raja Petra's website issued a call for donation of RM1 per person to his legal aid fund. At 6.45pm, RM24,500 had been credited to his CIMB bank account, and the fund had collected an additional US$3,283.61 through a Paypal account. It has been closed since.

Meanwhile, Syed Akbar was charged in a Kuala Lumpur sessions court with publishing seditious remarks in the comment section of an article in the Malaysia Today website.

He allegedly committed the offence in the premises of Zeenath Begum Jewellers Sdn Bhd, No. 2007, Jalan Masjid India, here at 2.59pm on June 5, 2007.

The comment with the heading "It is easy to impress the Malays" was made on an article titled "Malaysia's Organised Crime Syndicate: All Roads Lead to Putrajaya" published by blogger Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin who maintains the website.

The 48-year-old father of two was charged under the same section.

Syed Akbar, a former banker who now runs a business with his wife on Jalan Masjid India, was represented by counsel Ashok Kandiah, Haris Ibrahim and Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, Bernama reported.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ishak Yusof, assisted by Hanafiah Zakaria, recommended to the court for him to be allowed bail of RM5,000 but Ashok pleaded for a lower amount.

Judge S. M. Komathy Suppiah set bail at RM3,000 with one surety and fixed June 10 to hear submissions by both parties on a preliminary objection raised by the defence who claimed that the charge was groundless at the start of the proceedings.

Syed Akhbar's wife posted the bail.

Bar shocked over Raja Petra's prosecution

PETALING JAYA (May 6, 2008): The Bar Council today expressed shocked and disappointment today over the government's decision to charge Malaysia Today webmaster Raja Petra Kamaruddin with sedition.

Calling the Sedition Act 1948 an "archaic legislation which should be repealed", its president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said the Act was incompatible with Malaysian society.

"The Sedition Act is a draconian, archaic and repressive piece of legislation that has long outlived any perceived utility it may ever have had. It is incompatible with the progressive, open and democratic society that we had believed Malaysia was becoming," she said, adding that the use of such law was disconcerting and lends credence to the view that in fact the democratic space in Malaysia is still severely curtailed.

"The Sedition Act and other authoritarian laws represent a severe encroachment on the fundamental freedoms enshrined in our Constitution. These fundamental civil liberties are indisputable hallmarks of any democracy and must be safeguarded if Malaysia is to lay any claim to being a democratic nation."

She said the use of the Act was incompatible with the Home Ministry's recently-announced intention to loosen the annual licensing requirements for newspapers.

"The Bar Council had hoped that this signalled the first of many reforms that would herald a new era of openness and transparency."

She said the government should repeal the repressive legislation and focus instead on encouraging open discourse on issues of concern.

She said the council asked that the authorities immediately withdraw the charge against Raja Petra.




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