Friday, May 9, 2008

Amazing gov't can't counter just one blogger

"r r"

Steve Oh | May 8, 08 4:31pm

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Wife: RPK cuts contact with outside world.

The use of the Sedition Act to jail blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin is another reason why the law is nothing more than a political tool to harass and repress citizens and should be repealed. A relic of the colonial British its intention from the onset was to stifle political dissent, especially those who wanted independence.

And like the other draconian law the ISA, successive governments till today have retained and used them not for national security and the public interest but for crippling their critics and safeguarding their own political interests.

The wording of the Sedition Act is such that anyone who criticises the government can be caught in its web and in the past even politicians like Lim Kit Siang and his son Lim Guan Eng, now Penang Chief Minister, have been snared simply for raising questions of public interest in their roles as politicians.

How can there be democracy if criticising the government and inciting people to topple it fair and square in a constitutional manner is considered sedition? Obviously the law is an ass and serves no useful purpose unless it is a pretext for repression.

It is unlikely that the jailing of Raja Petra will achieve anything more than galvanise public opinion against the government which seems to flounder from one bungle to another. The government needs to change tack if it wants to stay in power after the next elections. There is no gain in making a martyr out of someone whose only crime is that he dared speak out in his blog against crime and corruption in high places and diverted his attention to a murder case of public and worldwide interest.

In his implication of a certain political bigwig and his wife in the murder of Mongolian mother Altantuya Shaaribuu, Raja Petra has committed no crime of sedition. Even a junior magistrate who knows his or her law will instantly dismiss the charge because there is no prima facie evidence of sedition.

How does the implication of a government minister cause a government's downfall? Did the political character assassination of Anwar Ibrahim bring the government down? And before him Musa Hitam? Both were deputy prime ministers then. It is yet another sad instance of the abuse of power.

The police are once more are used by the politicians as their lapdog. In a more developed and democratic country the police would have found no basis to charge the blogger under the Sedition Act either and not pressed any charge let alone arrest and detain him.

An act of sedition happens only when one betrays the country. The blogger is not part of a conspiracy to betray the country is he? In fact he is a rare individual who speaks out for many Malaysians and is a great patriot unlike those he attacks in his blog, who commit crimes against the country and its citizens.

Overlook the occasional scurrilous language used in the offending article and one easily sees it was nothing more than an angry outburst against what the public knows as dastardly deeds - the murder and bizarre bombing of a young and beautiful woman and mother who had everything to live for but whose untimely and gruesome death only left a shattered father and family behind. I am sure he and his friend are not the only ones who feel that way against the poor woman's murderers.

A mature and rational person would have understood the reason for the blogger's emotive tone. The most the one implicated could have done was to slam the blogger with a writ for defamation in a civil suit. But to charge him for sedition is outrageous, a misuse of police resources and waste of public funds and a blatant display of the abuse of power. It will not succeed, mark my words.

Raja Petra knows what he is doing. I sometimes think he has a death wish. And for this the nation owes this intrepid blogger an immense gratitude. If Raja Petra does not want to get out of prison he must have good reason. But I would be cautiously incredulous when police tell us he does not want to see his wife.

I urge the government to dismiss the spurious charge and release Raja Petra without further delay. It amazes me that with all its resources the government is not able to counter the ebullient blogger in the blogging arena but has to resort to the unfair and wrongful use of the Sedition Act to cripple him.


Daripada Abu Umarah iaitu al-Bara' bin 'Azib radhiallahu anhuma, katanya: "Kita semua diperintah oleh Rasulullah s.a.w. untuk melakukan tujuh perkara, iaitu meninjau orang sakit, mengikuti janazah, menentasymitkan orang yang bersin, menolong orang yang lemah, membantu orang yang teraniaya, meratakan salam dan melaksanakan sumpah."

(Muttafaq 'alaih)

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