CONTEMPORARY MALAYSIA

con·tem·po·rar·y - Modern times in its generic sense, living, occurring, or existing, at the same time; often also used as a synonym for "modern" Ma·lay·sia - A country of southeast Asia consisting of the southern Malay Peninsula and the northern part of the island of Borneo.

Taken from The Sun

PETALING JAYA (May 7, 2008): Blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, the webmaster of malaysia-today.net who was charged with sedition yesterday for news content in his website has refused bail.

In an act of defiance against the charges, Raja Petra has gone on a hunger strike in the Sungai Buloh prison where he is being held and has refused to meet anyone, including his wife Marina Lee Abdullah.

"He won't listen to anyone of us and I am so worried for his health. Except for a drink of water just before being charged in court on Tuesday, he has not eaten or drank anything since. He has kidney problems and I don't think he can take this hunger strike if he goes on for days like this," said Marina when contacted by theSun today.

She said Raja Petra developed kidney ailments when he went on a five-day hunger strike during his detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 2000.

"My husband's lawyers and I had tried to post bail early today (yesterday) to free Raja Petra but he had not just refused bail but also declined to see any of them.

"I believe my husband is doing this as he feels he has been unfairly judged and persecuted. He is angry, just as how everyone else is with what has happened and I know he will only stop this strike when they release him. I can only pray for his health for now, I hope everyone will do so too," said Marina.

Raja Petra is charged under the Sedition Act for an article in his website titled "Lets send the Altantuya murderers to hell" just days after he was called up by police for questioning.

During the questioning session by police officers in the federal police commercial crimes department on Saturday, the blogger who is known for his fiery and no-holds barred comments and write-ups refused to answer any of the questions put to him.

According to Puchong MP and lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, Raja Petra himself has to agree to posting bail to walk out of Sungai Buloh prison.

"Someone can post the money, but only Raja Petra can post bail," said Gobind, who declined to comment on Raja Petra's current situation.

Civil society groups yesterday urged the government to reconsider its use of the Sedition Act to pursue charges aginst blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin.

In a press statement, the Center for Policy Initiatives (CPI), National Alliance of Bloggers, Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI), Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall said: "In our view the sedition charge is malicious and without merit."

They added that it is also politically motivated and aimed at silencing a principled and uncompromising voice speaking against the abuse of power, including those stemming from the highest level of government and authority.

The group said the Sedition Act, enacted by the British colonial government, should have no place in a democratic society as unlike the law on defamation, one cannot defend oneself form a charge.

"In other words messengers may be shot for simply uttering the truth," said the group.

That the state is using its legal apparatus to charge Raja Petra with sedition instead of the aggrieved party resorting to civil defamation points to a need for thorough reform of our media laws, a demand consistently raised by civil society and progressive political parties.

The group said this action of the government coming just a few days after World Press Freedom Day on Saturday makes a mockery of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s expression of commitment to democratic and social reforms to promote a more open and transparent government.

The groups said the charge against Raja Petra is in connection with a post in his blog titled "Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell" in which he raised pertinent questions on various facts of the case that are already within the domain of public knowledge.

Editor of Malaysia Today news portal and blog Raja Petra Kamarudin was charged in a Petaling Jaya sessions court with sedition in connection with the article which he wrote and posted at www.malaysia-today.net on April 25, 2008.

"This action not only runs counter to the government's expressed promotion of a democratic, informed and participatory society, it also smacks of a renewal of the tactics of fear and intimidation which were recently resoundingly rejected by the Malaysian electorate," the statement said.