Malaysia: Vigil for jailed Raja Petra this evening

Take note of what's been happening in Malaysia these past few days since popular blogger and political commentator Raja Petra Kamarudin, 58, was imprisoned on Tuesday after a trial which saw him charged with sedition for having written a blog post.

If the Malaysian government was truly worried about bloggers effecting social unrest, now they have it. Remember, this is a country where any politician worth their mutton—Jeff Ooi was one of several Malaysians who rode their blog and calls for reform to Parliament in recent elections—has a blog, and even the old goats now blog too.

Ex-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has a highly-read blog, as does PM hopeful Anwar Ibrahim.

“They set up their blogs, and they try to close down our blogs.”

Raja is one of the sharpest voices both online and off in Malaysia, so it's highly suggested you check out his statements to the public right after his sentencing, vlogged by Malaysian citizen media stronghold, Malaysiakini.

Raja Petra (or RPK) has had his case brought to parliament, where MP-bloggers are calling RPK's arrest politically-motivated retaliation sought by the current ruling coalition following its heavy losses in recent elections, elections that saw for the first time popular bloggers winning seats, on a platform of increased transparency and post-colonial racial integration.

As the Malaysia Star points out, this is the first time that a blogger has been charged under the Sedition Act, and RPK now faces a fine of up to just over USD 1,500 and/or three years in prison. The trial, which saw businessman Syed Akbar Ali charged with sedition for a comment he left on RPK's blog, appears to have been carried out with no clarification given as to which part of the Act RPK had supposedly violated.

Multi-ethnic reform lobby group Aliran looks at the text of the Sedition Act, and expresses shock that this led to anything more than a defamation charge.

As of Thursday morning, RPK's readers have raised online far more than what he stands to be fined, and also today comes news that Raja Petra is on a hunger strike, and refusing to meet even with his own wife.

Following a candlelight vigil held outside Sungai Buloh prison last night, another vigil will be held at 8pm this evening in downtown Kuala Lumpur.

A Facebook group that has been set up to call for RKP's release is buzzing today, and a whole set of images can be found there, among other places, for anyone who wants to put a badge on their blog to show their
support:

At the center of all this is still the murder of Mongolian former model and polyglot Altantuya; Raja Petra's blog post calling for justice in her death to be resolved has been posted widely in recent days; here's how it begins:

Today, we shall not be talking about politics. We shall also not be talking about race or religion. Today, we shall talk about doing the human thing. Today, let’s discuss how to launch a ‘Justice for Altantuya: restore Malaysia’s dignity’ campaign. And let’s send those bastards who murdered Altantuya to hell where they belong.

An invitation was extended earlier to Mr. Kamarudin to come speak at this year's Global Voices Advocacy summit to be held in Budapest this June, and remains extended now.

5 comments

  • Sean

    Interesting people talk of an Internet War – nobody goes to war at election time. If there’s an election, you have a democratic process. The bloggers won the last election not by being superior bloggers, but by providing an alternative to the mainstream media – which is pure UMNO propaganda. Blogging didn’t win the Opposition seats, the mainstream media lost the BN ones. If you only feed your people rubbish, they’re going to look for somewhere else to eat.

    Odd that online articles say he was charged with libel for alleging the involvement of government ministers in a murder. That’s libel at worst, isn’t it? That last paragraph of his article directly incites revolution. That was plain silly.

  • [...] Malaysia: Vigil for jailed Raja Petra John Kennedy, Global Voices: May 08, [...]

  • GERALD HENG/BOSTON/MA/USA

    Its salutory to note that Raja Petra is out on Bail in freedom till the Trial ! Its an national and international disgrace for Malaysia to arrest,falsely imprisoned and charged a noble Raayat of the country for the Civil Rights of Humanity to assemble freely and speak or publish freely the thoughts that are on his mind.Indeed the Sedition Charge is totally out of order because its the British who used the ISA against Communists and fellow travellers of Communism! Chin Peng the Mlaysian Communist Party leader has already surrendered and recanted his past misguided ideological Communism raison e tre for malaysia,so what is the ISA doing now in the 50 years since Merdeka ? The ISA should have been finally thrown out into the dustbin of colonial history !

    Raja Petra is one tough,honest,brave and intellectually proper man in seeking Free Speech Free Assembly,and Media for Malaysia which is the foremost abiding Bill of Rights in Modern Democracies like the UK USA Canada and Australia !In the USA the late Chief Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes of Harvard Law and a Boston Brahmin insisted in a series of US Supreme Court decisions that ” Freedom of the Press,Speech and media is rather like permitting a Free Market Place of ideas ” where even Chairman Mao in one of his finest moments said ” Let a hundred flowers bloom and thousands of thoughts contend ! “Sometimes the Market get to be bazaar so be it how else would consumers know how good or bad ideas are without the Free Forum for such thoughts in speech contend ?
    Raja Petra as his name suggests is Saint Peter the
    Rock from which the cathedral of freedom of expression can be built so that the Malaysian People may assemble to sing many hosannas to Freedom, Liberty and brotherhood of the Malaysian People from three great Asian Civilizations!The Raja is noble in the sense what President Jack Kennedy used to say ” For those to whom much is given ,much is required ! “The Measure of the Man is his Life in the pursuit of Freedoms we all hold dear as civilised thinking human beings!May the Sedition be dropped as improperly defined and lack proper evidence of a turn coat coward,Raja Petra is no coward he is Patriotic Hero to champion his Press Freedom ! Vive La Joie De Vivre Libre Monsier Raja Petra Kamaruddin The Rudder of the Party Pakatan Raayat Malaysia Jaya !If Pah Lah our Premier has any common-sense and wisdom he should forthwith recruit the Raja Petra into his Cabinet as Chief Counsellor protempore till a cabinet position be found for his unique talents! Let’s put persoanl vendettas and politics of persoanl destruction aside !The man obviously has love and grace for the free process of Democracy !

    Gerald Heng
    Boston/Framingham/MA/USA
    present at the Merdeak Celebrations of August 31st 1957 and the 1963 Merger of Malaysia with Singapore!

  • [...] year has seen the government dealing with blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin (or RPK) for sedition, while there are ongoing investigations against blogger Sheih, also for [...]

  • [...] of the country and insulted the sanctity of Islam. RPK’s troubles do not end there; he also is facing sedition charges as well as defamation law [...]

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