Small Minds At Work
I preempt my usual Wednesday excerpting of my book, Towards A Competitive Malaysia, this week for this special, indeed extraordinary, posting. Many have heard of the abominable news that Malaysia-Today.net editor Raja Petra Kamarudin was charged under the equally despicable Sedition Act. Equally incomprehensible was that the judge imposed a bail of RM 5000 instead of letting him out on his own recognizance while awaiting trial. Did the court think that Raja Petra would abscond?
More reason-defying was the decision to proceed with the charge in the first place. Did anyone in the police department, the public prosecutor’s office, and the Attorney-General’s office actually read the allegedly seditious piece by Raja Petra? Even allowing for the abysmal English competency of our public officials, they would not have found anything seditious or even offensive in the said article.
The only thing offensive was the behavior of our leaders as alluded to by Raja Petra in that article, and just in case we missed that point, they went ahead to demonstrate this fact by subsequently charging him!
Although friends and supporters of Raja Petra (and also himself) would have no difficulty in posting the bail, nonetheless he opted for a public donations campaign of a very minimal if not symbolic amount of not more than RM1.00 per person. In less than 24-hours, his family has posted a message on Malaysia-Today that they have secured enough to post bond and that the excess would be donated to charity. (See posting below.)
Additionally, I am posting below a piece by Din Merican (with permission) on the same matter.
I join thousands of Malaysians in denouncing this brute chimp-like behavior of the Abdullah administration in trying to intimidate this great Malaysian. For a man who had suffered with dignity for years under the ISA, this latest clumsy act by Abdullah will not in the least dint Raja Petra’s resolve or commitment to bringing greater freedom to Malaysians.
Raja Petra, I salute you. Give ‘dem bastards hell! M. Bakri Musa
Message from MT’s Team: 5.30pm 6th May 2008
We would like to CALL OFF the donation campaign as we already collected enough fund to at least bail out our dearest YM RPK. It is the matter of RPK principle, and collecting excess wouldn’t be appreciated by him. As stated aerlier, all excess will be given to charitable home/center, and RPK or his family will make known of the statement from time to time. Thank you MALAYSIAN for supporting MALAYSIA TODAY!
It is tough on Puan Marina Lee Abdullah-Petra and her children when Raja Petra Kamarudin goes to jail in Sungei Buloh for refusing bail. This is because he felt that the whole episode leading to his incarceration was a set-up (see video by malaysiakini.tv) by certain elements in UMNO who were looking for a pretext to “get” him.
Those of us who are his friends and associates in the blogger community know that he is a rather uncompromising man on issues of principle. He wrote with such passion and conviction, without fear or favour. Yet few people know that Raja Petra comes from a proud aristocratic family in Selangor. His grandfather is the late Tun Raja Uda, former Governor of Penang and a distinguished civil servant with ties to the Selangor Royal Family.
His Royal Highness The Sultan of Selangor is, in fact, Raja Petra’s cousin. On that score alone, I would have expected that our master blogger would be treated with the usual courtesy and respect, befitting his status as a member of a very distinguished Royal Family. Not so, I am afraid.
The police’s treatment of him, on the other hand, is crass and raises serious concerns about proper manners and common courtesy. After all, he is innocent unless proven guilty. So we hope that while in Sungei Buloh he will be treated with dignity. He is a decent citizen who believes in the dignity of man, freedom and justice, someone who happens not to agree with certain leaders in the present government.
I am pleased — and so is the Raja Petra family — that Malaysians and sympathisers abroad responded with compassion and generosity to our hurriedly launched campaign for Raja Petra. The local component of the donation (of RM1.00 per person) totalled RM24,500. That means 24,500 Malaysians of goodwill at very short notice responded to our campaign. More people were forthcoming but Puan Marina decided to end the campaign.
For all that, I thank you for helping out at one of Raja Petra’s most trying times. Although he has been through many challenges including being an ISA alumnus in the past, he is proud to know that we Malaysians are supportive of his efforts to promote democracy, justice and free media.
Fellow Malaysians, you have shown that we are a caring people and as Malaysians we are ready for change. We have very low tolerance for encroachment of our fundamental liberties. There is, therefore, room for optimism, although a lot of hard work lies ahead, as we together try to rebuild our much maligned society.