A legend in the making - Malaysiakini
Chan Kok Leong May 6, 08 6:16pm
Highly controversial and largely influential blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin wrote himself into the annals of Malaysian history today when he became the first blogger to be charged under the Sedition Act 1948.
After a three-hour delay and a switch of courts, Raja Petra finally heard for the first time what he was being accused of.
Clad in a light yellow shirt and blue jeans, the 58-year-old writer was charged under Section 4 (1) (c) for nine paragraphs of a story which appeared in Malaysia Today on April 25.
The article allegedly implied that Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife were involved in the killing of Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu.
Whether it was confusion or mere inefficiency, what took a just 30 minutes in court, after factoring in a 10-minute recess called by Justice Nurmala Salim, the entire matter consumed more than three hours.
During the morning session at Jalan Duta, some 100 bloggers, well-wishers and press hounds were treated to hourly briefings of how he has been victimized by the government.
The flow of listeners were constant and instead of a day of sombre which is normally associated when friends or family have clashes with the law, the gathering in the morning carried an air of festivity.
Journalists had a field day collecting quotes and photographs of the notable people who had turned up to see him charged.
Among the wakil rakyat who turned up to see him were Nurul Izzah Anwar, Tian Chua, Lim Kit Siang, Sallahuddin Ayub, Liew Chin Tong and Wan Azizah Ismail, who showed up at Petaling Jaya later.
Other notables include human rights lawyers Haris Ibrahim, Malik Imtiaz, bloggers Bernard Khoo, YL Chong, Yassim Salleh, Ahiruddin Attan and Nuraina SamadFour other MPs - Karpal Singh, Gobind Singh, Lim Lip Eng and William Leong - made up his defence team alongside Jasvinderjit Singh, J Chandra and K Balaguru.
The prosecution team only had Nordin Hassan.
'He believes in his innocence'
After more than one-and-a-half hours of waiting, as the case was neither registered there nor were there any charge sheets available yet, the crowd continued their session at the cafeteria.
At about 10.20am, one of Raja Petra's lawyers Leong, informed everyone that the case had been moved to Petaling Jaya Sessions Court. What ensued was a convoy of cars, like those you see on the highway on their way to kenduris, headed towards the modest court in PJ State.
And if the authorities thought it would be over quickly, they must have been greatly disappointed. For the royal son of Selangor did not capitulate meekly. Instead of paying bail and keeping quiet until his trial date in October, Raja Petra chose the reverse.
In the court room, one of his lawyers had already told several reporters that his client would not pay bail because he believes in his innocence.
And as the news filtered out of the small Sessions Court in Petaling Jaya of his reluctance or inability to post bail, the crowd of well-wishers, bloggers and well-wishers gasped in astonishment at the thought that Raja Petra would be jailed until October.
If the authorities had expected to see him vilified and subdued they were sorely mistaken. For instead of seeing him subjugated, the former businessman is now a legend.
Clasped in handcuffs like a common criminal, photographers followed his every step as he was led in and out of the court after he did not post bail.Well-wishers shocked Meanwhile, outside the court room, Raja Petra's wife Marina Lee Abdullah said:
"This is a statement he wants to make. He feels that he has done nothing wrong and we don't have the funds. If we do a campaign of RM1 a person and when we raise sufficient funds, we'll take him out as soon as possible.
"During a quick lunch at a fastfood restaurant opposite the court, I watched and eavesdrop on several conversations around me. The well-wishers who were at the court moments earlier had converged here for the same reasons as I.But more importantly was their conversations.
As instead of focusing on the charge or the alleged sedition Raja Petra is accused of, their conversations understandably revolved around the injustice he has been meted out with.Needless to say, more was made of the fact that he will now have to linger in jail for causing Barisan Nasional's defeat in Selangor and four states.
And more will be said about how he was targetted after an Umno Youth vice leader in Petaling Jaya Utara was said to have told a meeting that "we have to arrest Raja Petra".And this is how legends are made.