Saturday, November 08, 2008

The candle extinguished today but the words of Voltaire flame on

Raja Petra was released yesterday. Co-incidently, it happened about a day after Obama won the American election.

But, it does not deserve equating him to the global Obamic hysteria. The choice of a son of an Irgun Israelis terrorist and Chicago base activist as Obama's Chief of Staff is already a damper to the excitement. The Obama euphoria is beginnig to be more of an American mass media creation to win back the heart of the world.

Throughout RPK's detention under ISA, a candle image was left on the sidebar of this blog. It is the same image placed by the Free RPK movement, led by Harris Ibrahim and Zorro's Bernard Khoo.

The movement had the support of some segment of the public and those claimed as Malaysian version of civil rights activists, but recently turned opposition sympathisers and substantial few converted to opposition partisanship. In fact, some have turned fanatical and hypocritical to refute the maxim "agree to disagree" and only their basis of thinking and prejudice applies.

But their attitude did not deter me to express my support for RPK. That may be painted as the most not-UMNO thing to do. More so, when one of the first few words uttered by RPK upon his release is his open support for Anwar to be the next Prime Minister. Anwar is an uncompromisable no-no for me.

But I have my basis.

Voltairic Disposition

As a product of an American University education, I saw the process of democrasy at work in the form seen nearest to its ideal.

I saw the views in a whole range of issues, from the exteme perspective (liberal and conservative) able to make ones blood boil to the watered down middle-of-the-road version, expressed unhindered.

I saw the deep understanding, awareness and high level of participation of its populants on current affairs, public issues, and politics. And, I saw the maturity of participants in the political process in debating issues and exchanging views.

That formed my belief that freedom of expression and speech is essential in nation building.

I have a feeling that I may be the unique few Nationalists who does not believe in the use of extralegal means to preserve the continuity of Malay sovereignty in this country. I have much confidence in the ability of Malay Nationalism ideology to stand up the test of time and the battle of ideas.

[However under the current Malaysian environment, situation and level of public political maturity, the caveat, that it has to be done delicately to ensure interracial peace and harmony is not sacrificed, is necessary. Our democratic process must be complimented with consultation, more congruent with our Eastern culture and values.]

I do not believe that the ISA should be misused for partisan political means and only judiciously applied for matter of real security threat.

My support for RPK is consistent with the words of Voltaire that I agree wholeheartedly, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

I support RPK's release despite him being quoted by saying, "I don't want to be the Prime Minister. I want Anwar to be the PM." His political preference is another matter altogether.

The Shame of Abdullah and Syed Hamid

My position is consistent with past critical positions I have taken with regard to the indiscriminate use of Section 8(b) of the ISA on cases involving BSA Tahir and the infamous Hindraf.

BSA Tahir was a case which showed much inconsistency by Abdullah, where his son, Kamaluddin and partner, Shah Hakam, both accomplice in the Scomi nuclear centrifuge scandal are left scot free. BSA was sent direct to Kemunting under Section 8 (b) ISA without undergoing the 60 days detention for interrogation and case building. Why?

The case of Hindraf ISA detention is one exception where I saw justification in the detention under ISA. Using lies, faulty historical fact and deception, they instigate the common folks into a racial millitant mode and defying authorities.

In fact, Hindraf leaders should be charged for treason. Hindraf shamed the country with their false deposition in their lawsuit against the British Government claiming a state sponsored ethnic cleansing. They openly threatened arms struggle. They demanded for the suspension of the Constitution.

Yet the Government only charged them for sedition. But the initial charges was defective and thrown out of court. It seemed to me it was intentionally done to enable Uthayakumar to ran away to UK and escaped the ISA detention the following week.

The big question is: Why were the Hindraf leaders immedately whisked away to Kemunting for detention detained under Section 8(b) without going through the 60 days interrogation? Was there sufficient ground for Nazri to claim that there were Tamil Elam terrorist elements in Hindraf? Is anyone trying to hide something? Just like BSA Tahir's case?

So please stop talking of Abdullah's openness and pro-civil liberty. Bring in Kalimullah's spewing lies on the mainstream media and Abdullah's misuse of power on security matter. It's clear that such claims are sheer crap!

Change the Minister of Internal Security to Syed Hamid and more crap are surfacing. Firstly, never have any Minister made press statements and comments regarding ISA. It is police matter and only IGP made any public statements.

Syed Hamid fumbled in his recent use of ISA and casued a major public uproar. None of the three recent detention warrants the use of ISA. None had actually raised public temperament to the point of public unrest.

He detained a low level reporter of Sin Chew Jit Poh, yet the editors were scot free, and reporter released a day later on a flimsy reason for personal security. He signed for Teresa Kok's detention and yet released within a week, thus making a mockery of the police and giving the impression police had not done sufficient surveilance and information gathering work.

In the case of Raja Petra, the set-up was obvious. Few Religous Departments and Pak Lah's network of NGOs made a police report and he was subsequently detained on that basis. Having read all the questionable articles, RPK was consistent in his stand for "amar makruf nahi mungkar', irrespective whether there were true or false and free of ulterior motive.

For his alleged wrongful accusation towards Najib, RPK was already going through the court process. It was obvious, when the article 'Not all Arabs are descendents of the Prophet' was included, that Syed Hamid was being personal and hiding behind the excuse of discrediting national leader. Najib is capable of defending himself and I am capable of defending any false accusation made against anybody I believe is innocent.

Abdullah and Syed Hamid fumbled big time on the national internal security and they should resign immediately.


My position does not mean I agree with RPK's alleged defamatory and seditious actions. I definitely do not agree with his choice of PM. And, I do not agree with him being part of a dangerous psywar against Najib for the purpose of propelling Anwar, not substantiated by proof and credible analysis.

To reiterate my point, I do not agree with the use ISA on the Sin Chew Jit Poh reporter, Teresa Kok and Raja Petra, to suppress views and when there is no real security threat.

My position is consistent with the position of Dr Mahathir, who questioned the use of ISA on the three, specifically RPK. He does not see a security situation that warrant the use of ISA. He did clarified that during Ops Lallang in 1988, there were serious threat that saw Malaysians beginning to migrate abroad.

My position to support the Free RPK Movement is in consistent with the position of fellow journalist, writers and bloggers against any use of law to suppress freedom of speech. If any law had been broken, let the process of law takes its own course.

The candle (on my blog sidebar) extinguished today but but the words of Voltaire flame on.

-----------------------------, Nov 7th, 2008, 9:46 am

Court frees ISA detainee Raja Petra

Hafiz Yatim

Controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin was released from his Internal Security Act (ISA) detention at 3.20pm.

The editor of the popular Malaysia Today website was brought to the Shah Alam High Court just five minutes earlier.

Expressing surprise with the decision, Raja Petra said: "Not many people have challenged the act (ISA) so much and I did not have much high hopes (of being released).

"This application allowed under Section 8 is a special prize. I am tired."

"This showed ISA cannot be used. I hope this is not a political decision. I don't want to be the prime minister. I want Anwar to be the PM," he said.

"We have to fight all-out and get the ISA abolished," he told reporters.

Raja Petra was greeted by his wife Marina Lee Abdullah and two daughters. Some 50 supporters and friends clapped and cheered when the blogger appeared.

He later left the courthouse with his family in a red Rolls-Royce.

Looking haggard and dressed in a brown T-shirt and jeans, Raja Petra was garlanded by dozens of supporters outside the court before stepping into the vehicle.

This morning, the Shah Alam High Court this ruled that the detention of Raja Petra under the ISA was illegal and ordered his immediate release.

Judge Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad said that Raja Petra's detention was unconstitutional.

He said the home minister had not followed proper procedure under Section 8 of the ISA to issue the detention order against Raja Petra.

The judge also ordered that Raja Petra be produced in court by 4pm today after which he should be immediately released.

Raja Petra was being held at the Kamunting detention camp in Perak.

"Now is about 10.30am, and I think there is enough time for Raja Petra to be released. I do not want this matter to be prolonged as the weekend starts tomorrow," said the judge.

"I thank the prosecution for their cooperation in handling this case and require your assistance to ensure that the order would be carried out."

Senior federal counsel Abdul Wahab Mohammad said he would make the necessary arrangements by 4pm.

The release comes more than a month after Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar signed the ISA detention order on Sept 23, although Raja Petra was initially arrested under the Act on Sept 12 at his house in Sungai Buloh.

Reasons for the detention

Raja Petra, 58, had named the home minister as the defendant in the habeas corpus application which sought among others for his immediate release and an order that his detention under the ISA was unlawful.

The minister had stated three reasons for Raja Petra's detention:

  • that he owns and operates the Malaysia Today website;
  • publishing his articles and readers' comments intentionally and recklessly which were critical and insulted Muslims, affecting the purity of the religion and the personality of Prophet Muhammad; and
  • publishing articles deemed defamatory or false concerning Malaysia's leaders, with the intention of undermining public confidence and inciting hatred against the government; the articles are alleged to be a threat to national security.

The articles in question were 'Malays, the Enemy of Islam', 'Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell', 'I promise to be a good, non-hypocritical Muslim' and 'Not all Arabs are descendents of the Prophet'.

Raja Petra was represented by counsel Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, Azhar Azizan Harun, J Chandra and Ashok Kumar.

Upon hearing the judgment, Marina broke into tears and hugged her daughters.

Raja Petra's supporters who were wearing black, yellow, green and orange t-shirts with the message 'No ISA' and 'Free RPK' had clapped when the decision was made.

A procedural non-compliance

Syed Ahmad Helmy in his judgment said the court looked into two factors, namely the constitutionality of the Act and whether the home minister acted correctly within his jurisdiction to issue the order.

He said Section 8(b) of the ISA indicated that those issued with the detention order by the minister might not be allowed for judicial review. However, the court could hear such an application if there were instances of possible abuse of powers.

"I agree the formulation of the ISA was to protect the security of the nation and is constitutional. However, the court can review the detention order if it finds instances where the minister could have acted beyond his jurisdiction to issue the two-year detention order.

Syed Ahmad Helmy said there was no relevance for the minister to issue the order against Raja Petra on the basis of 'mala fide' (bad faith).

"Following this, the court finds there is a procedural non-compliance as stated under Section 8(1) of the ISA based on the minister's affidavit.

"Hence the court finds the minister had acted 'ultra vires' (beyond his powers) in issuing the detention order under the ISA section. For example, the minister cannot issue an order if a person has in bad faith decided to colour his hair red.

"Following this, the court is allowing the plaintiff's application and orders for his release," the judge said.

Raja Petra's lawyer Malik said during submissions earlier that the court has jurisdiction to scrutinise the detention order and to determine if it was made in bad faith.

"This is not a situation like Jemaah Islamiyah or communists. This is just a man whom the government thinks can bring it down to its knees," the counsel had argued.

Wife: A good sign

Marina, when met by reporters, said she had been hopeful but had not expected the decision.

"This is a good sign that the country is changing and I hope that this change will continue," she said.

"I am speechless and satisfied with the decision. I have not taken breakfast and will do so and wait for my husband's return."

Marina also thanked all her lawyers for their effort in securing her husband's release. Their two daughters - Suraya, 34, and Sarah, 19 - were present as well.

Malik told AFP it was the first time a court has ordered the release of an ISA detainee since 1989, when courts were barred from interfering once a detention order has been signed by the home minister.

"It is certainly an historic ruling and a profound moment for civil liberties in this country," he said, while adding that the government can appeal the decision.

This was the second time that Raja Petra has been arrested under the ISA.
He was also detained in 2001 at the height of the reformasi movement triggered by the sacking and jailing of former deputy premier and now Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

However, Raja Petra was released after 53 days in police custody, without being sent to Kamunting.


Unknown said...

weirdly after following your line of arguments i totally agreed with you. My friend ask me this morning about the RPK released and i said "don't give a shit and he should stay there." Reading your arguments i think you are right in that even the actions are wrong the righteous principle upon which they are derived should be defended.i guess the difference between a wrong and right principle derived upon the course of your action you took plus the timing when you utter/utilize the principle.

Anonymous said...

i think that the main aim of releasing RPK is to launch the tsunami wave against the future President of UMNO (DS Najib). He will be used as the pawn for the political leverage of Anwar/Khairy team which has the silent support by the current Man behind/on the govt throne. It seems so awkard that RPK is released just after OBAMA. Furthermore the Home Ministry made a blunder in arresting him & didn't process RPK as per procedure. We have to wait & see on the next devcelopment awaiting the UMNO AGM in March 2009.

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