Malaysiakini reports, here, that Malaysia Today news portal webmaster Raja Petra Kamaruddin was today charged under Section 4(1) (c) of the the Sedition Act, a rather repressive law introduced by the British in 1948, at the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court over an article, "Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell" which he wrote recently. He is the first Malaysian blogger to be charged under this Act and has thus become a legend of sorts.
The article allegedly implied that deputy prime minister Najib and his wife Rosmah were involved in the killing of a young Mongolian woman named Altantuya who was blown to pieces with military C4 explosives by police personnel. The murder trial is currently ongoing at the Shah Alam High Court.
Earlier, Raja Petra was given the runaround when he reported as instructed at 08.30 a.m. at the KL Magistrate's Court when he received a phone call from the police at about 10.20 a.m. asking him to go to the PJ court instead. He has claimed trial, set for October 6 2008, but refused to pay bail of RM5000 as a matter of principle on a claim that he is a victim of "political persecution". Plans are already afoot to initiate a public fund-raising “Save RPK Campaign” at RM1 per person to raise enough money for posting bail.
A draconian law like the Sedition Act clearly has no place in a democratic society. Unlike defamation law, one cannot defend oneself from a charge of sedition on the ground of truthfulness. That the State has chosen to charge RPK for sedition rather than simple criminal defamation points to the need for a thorough revision of our media laws as demanded by a civil society.
I find it ludicrous that although 'Pete' has written many allegations against the IGP, the police, the AG, and also about the Khairy Chronicles, SCOMI and the PM's son Kamaluddin etc., he has never been charged with sedition or even libel. But when he writes an article about Najib and Rosmah, in which he has raised several pertinent questions on facts of the case already within public domain and backed by sworn court testimonies, he gets the book thrown at him.
These are without doubt tactics of intimidation and fear, but we Bugis are a hardy lot. May Allah give RPK courage. Truth and Justice may yet prevail.
(Poster courtesy Mob's Crib)