May 18, 2008

Damning conclusions from Lingam video findings

Damning conclusions from Lingam video findings
May 18 2008 - Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 — Datuk V.K. Lingam, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, Tun Eusoff Chin and others seriously undermined the independence and the integrity of the judiciary by their actions of fixing the appointment and promotion of judges.

This was the finding of the Royal Commission on the Lingam video clip. This is what commission members concluded about:

Datuk V.K. Lingam

The key question in the hearing was whether Lingam was the Indian man captured in the video clip speaking on the telephone to presumably the former Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz.

When confronted with the clip, Lingam told the commission that "it looks like and the voice sounds like me."

Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor and other members of the commission were not impressed with this opaque answer, noting that there were direct accounts by witnesses that the man in the video clip was the lawyer.

"It is our considered opinion that Datuk V.K. Lingam had virtually emasculated himself on the issue of his credibility by admitting to his identity in the photographs but refusing to admit his identity in the video clip...Datuk V.K. Lingam took an oath before us to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In refusing to accept that he was the person in the video clip we hold that his credibility was worthless."

They said that at no point during the proceedings did Lingam offer any evidence to show that he was not the person in the clip, offering only bare denials. In fact at the later stage of his testimony, he admitted that he was the one in the video clip but that the statements by him were made in the privacy of his house and that he was drunk and was bullshitting and bragging.

They also gave little weight to opinions expressed by his overseas experts on the authenticity of the clip, noting that one of the experts offered her advice without even seeing the video clip.

The commission noted: "Question that begs to be answered is why if Lingam placed such store in his experts, he did not ask them to take live tests of the person featured in the video clip so as to prove that the Indian man was not him? He provided overseas experts to condemn the Malaysian expert’s qualifications, methodology and conclusions but he had nothing in the other end of the scales!"

Tun Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim

The commission drew adverse inference from the former chief justice's behavior after the video clip implicating him became public knowledge. Fairuz denied that he was the person on the other end of the line to Lingam in letters to the prime minister, deputy minister and the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department on Sept 21, 2007.

The commission said that the letters were bare denials and volunteered no information as to why his name should be mentioned in the video clip. "In a situation of such national gravity it is usual for a public officer to invite a full scale public enquiry to clear his name and in certain cases the officer concerned would even offer to suspend himself from further duties whilst his name was being cleared.

"That did not happen here. Whilst it could well have been a Freudian slip we also think that it is not irrelevant that when he was asked by counsel why he described the conversation as a monologue, he said that his voice could not be heard at the other end of the line."

The commission also noted that after the video clip was made public, Fairuz retreated into silence and refused to respond to call from the media. “Tun Ahmad Fairuz could have publicly denied that he was the person at the end of the line and informed the nation that pending a public enquiry into the matter, he was voluntarily suspending himself from further duties. That step would have allayed public confidence in the system."

The commission also noted that judges have been given powers to punish any contempt or conduct by lawyers which scandalises the judiciary. Fairuz explained to the commission that did not exercise the court’s power because he did not want contaminate himself.

"We cannot accept this as a valid reason. He did not himself have to issue Datuk V.K. Lingam a letter to show cause why he should not be held liable for contempt. He could have directed any other judge to do it. At the very least a formal letter could have been issued to Datuk V.K. Lingam to explain," concluded the commission.

Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor

The commission noted that Tengku Adnan’s name was mentioned 11 times in the video clip and every time it was in the context of what the former deputy minister would or could do to push Fairuz up the judicial ladder.

When the passages in which his name was mentioned was read out to him during the hearing, he denied the truth of the content and said that he never had a conversation with Lingam about these matters.

Later he suggested that Lingam was drunk when captured on the video clip. That was why he kept bringing up Tengku Adnan’s name in the conversation during the telephone conversation.

"This explanation is too facile to be accepted. The Datuk V.K. Lingam we saw on the video clip was certainly not drunk…So why give such an explanation which was no explanation at all? Again, it was one man’s word against another and in all the circumstances of the case we regret to say that it is our opinion that Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor was too economical with the truth to be believed."

The commission said it was puzzled why Tengku Adnan did not take any action against Lingam if the statements made by the latter were untrue. "Criminal offences by way of leaking Official Secrets were being alleged but Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor seems to have been quite unfazed," the commission noted.

Tan Sri Vincent Tan

The commission was left incredulous by the businessman’s testimony during the hearing, saying that his answers were a faithful echo of Lingam’s. For example, when he was asked if the Indian man in the video clip was his close friend, Tan remarked: "It looks like him, it sounds like him but I cannot be 100 per cent sure."

The commission noted that the congruence of his answer with that of Lingam’s was too exact not to draw adverse comment. "Tan Sri Vincent Tan is talking about a man he has known intimately for over 20 years and he still refuses to give mouth to reality before his very eyes.

"A little later, he gives the reason, 'I cannot be sure 100 per cent because with modern technology, I don’t know what is the motive behind this.' In other words he is suggesting that the video clip may have been tampered with. All this is such a faithful echo of Datuk V.K. Lingam’s own testimony that it is very hard not to make an inference that there has been some confabulation here between them."

In their report, the commission said it was clear from Tan’s testimony that he, Lingam, Tengku Adnan and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad are long term friends and business associates "whose lives are inextricably linked both personally and in the tentacles of Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s business empire and various business projects which require the PM’s political backing."

In his testimony, Tan denied that he had ever discussed the appointment of judges, especially the elevation of Fairuz with Dr Mahathir.

"When it was roundly put to him that PM did admit that he could have taken the views of Tan Sri Vincent Tan into account in the selection of judges, Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s answer was that he could not remember this but went on to say (notwithstanding he had just said that he could not remember) that he had definitely not discussed about judges," said the commission.

Members of the commission said that documents produced before them showed that Tan was involved in a string of high profile commercial cases. And in all the cases, Lingam was his lawyer.

"It is hard to believe that Tan Sri Vincent Tan would not have taken a very keen interest in the identity of the judges who were trying the cases," said the commission, adding that Tan tried his best to distance himself from Lingam.

"But the background of joint holidays together, and the fact that they even communicated with each other by intercom shows a closeness between them which cannot be discounted and must give rise to an adverse inference on Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s credibility," said the commission.

Tun Eusoff Chin

The commission said that the credibility of the former chief justice was in tatters after he gave evidence regarding his relationship with Lingam. In his sworn testimony, Eusoff said that there was nothing special about his ties with the lawyer.

This issue was important because in the video clip, Lingam seems to suggest that because of his close relationship with Eusoff, he was able to get his own way in a number of matters.

The commission noted that evidence showed that Eusoff and his family spent almost the entire holiday in New Zealand in 1994 with Lingam. At the hearing, the former CJ said that he bumped into Lingam and his family at Changi Airport but admitted that they were on the same flight to Auckland, went to the zoo and bird park together, went on a fishing trip together and took a few internal flights in New Zealand together.

Eusoff put his travel arrangements and itinerary down to coincidences. “Given the amazing number of alleged coincidences, which can be extracted from the whole trip from Singapore to New Zealand and back, we need no more than mere common sense to detect the incredulity of that proposition," the commission ruled.

In their report, the commissioners also drew attention to the testimony of Thirnama Karasu, Lingam’s brother. Among other things, this witness said that he had driven Lingam to Eusoff’s house on several occasions in 1995 and 1996. On one occasion, he delivered a briefcase and a brown envelope on behalf of his brother to the CJ.

Eusoff and Lingam denied all these allegations but the commission noted that Karasu was subjected to intense cross-examination by counsel for Eusoff, Lingam and Tun Ahmad Fairuz but was unshaken. They also alleged that he was suffering from a mental disorder and was motivated by vengeance and greed.

"When the evidence of Karasu is examined against the rebuttals and denials relating to the events highlighted, we are of the view that his version of the events is more probable than that of his detractors," said the commission.

In the final analysis, the commission noted that the effect of all the testimonies showed that not only was Eusoff and Lingam extremely close “but there was a strong prima facie case made out that their proximity was such that the relationship far from being normal was quite inappropriate."

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

The commission noted that Dr Mahathir did not follow the constitutional process of consulting the then Chief Justice Tun Dzaiddin Abdullah in the appointment and promotion of judges. For example, when the then PM rejected Dzaiddin’s choice of Tan Sri Malek Ahmad to fill in the vacancy as the Chief Judge of Malaya, he did not give any reasons.

Instead, he directed Dzaiddin to choose between Tun Ahmad Fairuz and Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah as the next CJM. The commission noted that they was evidence that Lingam and his collaborators sabotaged Malek’s candidacy by influencing Mahathir. In the video clip, Lingam told Fairuz that Malek was considered anti-Mahathir.

“Tan Sri Malek Ahmad was a victim of character assassination by third parties who had their own axe to grind...This would not have happened if the PM had consulted Tun Dzaiddin as to why Tan Sri Malek Ahmad was considered to be unsuitable for appointment to the post of CJM. Nor were there reasons given why the PM considered Tun Ahmad Fairuz or Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah better candidates. PM’s letter was nothing short of a 'Hobson’s Choice' that one of the two should be chosen because they were PM’s favoured candidates."

The commission ruled that an exclusive right in the executive to appoint judges without consultation is inimical to the doctrine of separation of powers and destructive of judicial independence.

Worse was to follow when Dzaiddin proposed five individuals as High Court judges in a letter to the PM in October 2001. This time the Chief Secretary to the Government picked the names of five names of serving Judicial Commissioners for Tun Dzaiddin to choose two out of the five names.

No reasons were given to Dzaiddin why his choices were rejected.

“The PM cannot remember the reasons. His KSN (chief secretary) does not know the reasons. But there was somebody else who claimed to know the reasons. That somebody else is Datuk V.K. Lingam and he said that he achieved this with the participation of Tan Sri Vincent Tan and Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor when all three of them went to see the PM with this objective in mind," noted the commission.

In the video clip, Lingam discussed Dzaiddin’s letter to the PM in October 2001 and told Fairuz that moves were underway to block the appointment of some of the names nominated by the then CJ.

The commission noted that the Constitution makes clear that the PM has to consult the CJ on appointments to the Bench. “These were serious defaults in the constitutional process, because the mandatory requirement of consultation had not been compiled with by persons who had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution. This kind of misbehavior is so unprecedented that were it not for the release of the video clip it may never have come to light," it added.


May 16, 2008

Commission: Act against Dr M, 5 others

Commission: Act against Dr M, 5 others
May 16, 2008 - Malaysiakini

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam video clip has recommended that former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad be investigated under various laws for his role in the appointment of judges.

In its 191-page report, the commission recommended that they be investigated under a slew of laws - Sedition Act, Official Secrets Act, Penal Code and obstruction of justice.

De facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim today said that the cabinet has directed the Attorney General's Chambers to institute immediate investigations against the six.

Earlier, Zaid said that the government has decided to release the commission's report to the public.

"We are of the view that there was conceivably an insidious movement by VK Lingam with covert assistance of his close friends Vincent Tan and Tengku Adnan Mansor to involve themselves actively in the appointment of judges, in particular the appointment of Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim as President of the Court of Appeal, and subsequently as the Chief Justice."


Lingam report: Dr M, others involved

Lingam report: Dr M, others involved
16 May 2008 - Malaysian Insider

PUTRAJAYA, MAY 16 — A high-level inquiry found evidence that prominent government and judicial figures, including former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, were involved in a conspiracy to manipulate the appointment of judges, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Zaid Ibrahim said today.

The Cabinet told the Attorney General's office today to undertake immediate investigations into the "possibility that offences against the law have been committed," Zaid told reporters.

The revelation deals a major blow to the reputation of Malaysia's courts and bolsters allegations by many lawyers and opposition leaders that judicial corruption has tainted verdicts stretching back more than a decade.

Demands for reform have jolted the judiciary after the opposition leaked a video in September that allegedly showed a well-connected lawyer, V.K. Lingam, speaking by telephone in 2001 to a former top judge, Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, about the promotion of judges.

Zaid said a panel that investigated the video found it was authentic and Lingam apparently conspired with his allies in the judiciary, government and corporate world to broker the appointment of judges.

The video, filmed by a visitor to Lingam's house, shows him talking about ways to help Ahmad Fairuz become Malaysia's top-ranking judge with the help of business tycoon Vincent Tan and Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, a former Cabinet minister.

In the video, Lingam is heard saying that he, Tan and Tengku Adnan had contacted Mahathir regarding judicial appointments.

The inquiry's report said "there was conceivably an insidious movement by (Lingam) with the covert assistance of his close friends (Tan and Tengku Adnan) to involve themselves actively in the appointment of judges."

"In the process ... Mahathir was also entangled," the report added. "Actions of the main characters concerned have the effect of seriously undermining and eroding the independence and integrity of the judiciary as a whole."

Zaid said Lingam and the others would be investigated for possible offences such as obstruction of justice, sedition and leaking state secrets.

Tengku Adnan did not answer calls to his mobile phone. Aides to Lingam, Tan and Mahathir could not immediately be contacted.

All of them denied any wrongdoing while testifying at inquiry hearings earlier this year.

Lingam claimed he may have been drunk when the video was shot. Ahmad Fairuz, who became chief justice in 2003 and retired last year, denied speaking to Lingam. Mahathir, Tengku Adnan and Tan insisted they were not part of any conspiracy.

In Malaysia's legal system, the chief judge recommends candidates for senior judicial appointments and promotions to the prime minister, who can accept or reject those names.

Malaysia's judiciary has long been plagued by claims of favouritism and influence-peddling. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced last month an independent panel would be established to help select new judges as part of legal reforms. — AP


Royal Commission on Lingam video clip

Royal Commission on Lingam video clip:
Adnan, Tan 'had direct influence'
16 May 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: Former deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan had direct influence in the appointment and promotion of judges.

This was the explosive observation made in the report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam video clip.

The commission also doubted the evidence given by the two in the inquiry as they had made bare denials to penetrating questions posed by lawyers who appeared for interested parties.

The findings of the commission were in direct contrast to Adnan's testimony: "I had nothing to do with the appointment of judges."

Tan had also testified that he had no links to the judicial appointments.

The NST learned the report also noted that lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam had mentioned Adnan's name 11 times in the 14-minute clip and that the lawyer was speaking to former chief justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim.

The commission had recommended that certain individuals who gave evidence in the inquiry be investigated under the Sedition Act, Official Secrets Act and the Penal Code.

The report also noted that there was basis for a probe by investigation agencies on the alleged close links between Lingam and another former chief justice, Tun Mohd Eusoff Chin, who held the position from 1994 to 2000.

Lingam's brother Thirunama Karasu had lodged a report in 1998 with the Anti-Corruption Agency, which incriminated Eusoff but the matter was closed.

At the inquiry, the Bar Council had produced photographs, flight tickets and itinerary as evidence to show that Eusoff, Lingam and their families had gone for a holiday together to New Zealand in late 1994.

The commission also recommended that Lingam be investigated for misconduct under the Legal Profession Act.

The commission had also made observations in response to the evidence given by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and retired chief justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah.

It noted Dr Mahathir had a "narrow interpretation" to the meaning of the word "consultation" in the appointment and promotion of judges.

This was in response to Dr Mahathir having not accepted Dzaiddin's advice to appoint the late Tan Sri Malek Ahmad as chief judge of Malaya in August 2001.

That position instead, went to Fairuz who was then junior to Malek. Malek passed away on May 31, last year.

In a recent newspaper report, Dr Mahathir was quoted as having read an extract of the Royal Commission report and had said there seemed to be every attempt to implicate him although there was no direct connection to him. The report, he claimed, made him seem that he was biased.

The commission also recommended that the government review the composition of members in the Judicial and Legal Service Commission to prevent abuse by the chief justice who has a hand in recommending judges to sit in the commission.

The commission head is the chairman of the Public Services Commission. The attorney-general, who is the head of the legal department, is a member of the commission while the others members are all judges.

The Royal Commission recommended that the chief judge of Malaya and chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak be members of the body as they are directly responsible for the appointments, transfer and promotion of lower court judges and registrars.

This recommendation was made as there have been instances of a former chief justice who practised favouritism.

The three other recommendations by the Royal Commission are the setting up of a Judicial Appointments Commission for superior court judges, establishing a Judicial Complaints Tribunal and amending Article 121 of the Federal Constitution to remove the perception that the executive had control over the judiciary.

The report was submitted to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong last Friday and copies were extended to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

The report is expected to be discussed at the Cabinet meeting today, which will also decide if it should be made public.

Meanwhile, a check on the official website of the Attorney-General's Chambers revealed that the Anti-Corruption Agency's investigation papers on lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam have been returned to the agency with further instructions.

The ACA submitted its papers on May 9 but received them back later the same day.

As of yesterday evening, Lingam's case was number 114 under "List of Investigation Papers" or Senarai Kertas Siasatan Kes.

Under the column headed kertas masuk (papers opened), investigation papers against one "Dato' Kanalingam a/l Veluppillai" were submitted to the ACA on May 9, the same date on which the commission had submitted its report to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.


May 9, 2008

Raja Petra Out On Bail

Raja Petra out, explains U-turn on bail

Sedition Act Infringes on Constitutional Right of Freedom of Speech

Press Release: Sedition Act Infringes on Constitutional Right of Freedom of Speech
Friday, 09 May 2008

The Bar Council notes with alarm the report in today’s New Straits Times that the Prime Minister has instructed a police report to be lodged against DAP chairman Karpal Singh.

This move, following the recent charges of sedition against Raja Petra and Syed Akbar Ali, signals a disturbing trend towards the use of archaic and oppressive legislation such as the Sedition Act as a means of stifling debate and exchange of opinions.

Many issues of public and constitutional law including state law and convention that have hitherto not arisen, have understandably surfaced since the March 8 general elections.

One recent controversy was over the appointment of the Trengganu Menteri Besar, when many members of the Government and public took strong positions in relation to the actions of the state’s Regent and its Regency Advisory Council, including the position that the appointment of the Chief Minister was unconstitutional. Strong views were similarly expressed in respect of the appointment of the Perlis Menteri Besar. Likewise the views expressed by Karpal Singh are his opinion on the legal issues relating to the transfer of the Perak Religious Department director Datuk Jamry Sury. Using the Sedition Act against him is a stifling of healthy debate that has in fact already been taking place over the last few months in other instances.

We would in the circumstances urge that the oppressive Sedition Act not be used against Karpal Singh or anyone else exercising their constitutional right of freedom of speech.

Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan
Malaysian Bar

May 7, 2008

Raja Petra was charged with sedition - Video

Raja Petra was charged with sedition
Courtesy of Mediarakyat

About the law of sedition - Video

About the law of sedition - The People's Parliament

RPK's struggle must not be in vain

Marina Lee : Is Parliament still relevant?
Wednesday, 07 May 2008

"... when freedom of speech is being brutally subverted by the present regime and false charges can be instituted against anyone who dares to demand for justice and truth."

As a wife and mother, I want to know from my fellow citizens whether a government that has incarcerated my husband in the Sungai Buloh prison on trumped up charges and brought untold suffering on my family, especially when one of my daughters is sitting for her final examinations, is a legitimate government.

No wife, mother or child should to go through this horrible experience when all her beloved husband did was to uphold justice and truth.

On 2nd May 2008, the Armed Might of the regime was unleashed on my family when they came to my house in search of evidence for some alleged crime that my husband was supposed to have committed.

I thought that this can only happen in a Gestapo state but not in my beloved Malaysia. You be the judge of this.

The police came in the morning and desecrated the sanctity of my home for the fourth time. The fact that this had occurred previously does not make it any easier for my daughter and me. I wish that such nightmares can be forgotten, but let me tell you, especially mothers and wives, that the pain will never go away and that it is only our family's self esteem and strength and our faith in god that has enabled us to withstand and overcome the trauma and pain that we have suffered together.

I pray that no mother and wife will have to suffer and experience what I had with my beloved husband and my family.

Before we had time to recover our composure, the police handed us a summons to appear before the CCID the following day. However, at 3.15pm, we received a call to appear at 4.00pm on the same day.

My suspicions for this sudden change in the time for my husband to be interrogated was to prevent publicity and the exposure of their dastardly deeds.

Can anyone of you imagine what I, as a wife and mother, had to go through emotionally and psychologically when accompanying my husband to be interrogated by the police when on a previous occasion in 2000, he was brutally assaulted in my presence?

I could not express my anxiety to my husband on the way to the CCID, as I know that my strength and resoluteness would be critical to enable my husband to face his interrogators. He must have also felt the same for me and so both of us, thinking alike kept our silence. But we were determined to see this through together hell or high water.

The Petras’ are not some tofus!! We have enough strength and dignity to overcome such adversity. My daughter suffered in silence and despite her age, she held up magnificently and no mother can be more proud than I to have such a daughter.

As we approached the CCID, tears welled in my eyes, but they were not tears of fear, sadness or trepidation, but the expression of my determination and faith that my husband’s struggle will ensure a better future for my daughter and the children of a better Malaysia.

I am proud to say that my husband overcame the intrigues and schemes and came out unscathed. But we knew that this was a mere prelude to more brutality that will be inflicted on my family.

The events of yesterday’s circus are known to all.

But what was most telling was the deafening silence of the judiciary and the bar council which supposedly are the guardians of justice and equality.

The dinner that was orchestrated by Pak Lah, his law minister and other cronies that allegedly ushered “a new era” for an independent and fearless judiciary in upholding justice and human rights, makes me wonder if such an institution that was promised was a fantasy in the light of my experience.

Today, my daughter and I went to the Sungai Buloh prison to visit my husband but we were told that he had no wish to see anyone, not even any member of the family or lawyers. I was shocked and disturbed by this turn of events as it can only mean that my husband is determined to endure the pain of incarceration and humiliation of being subjected to and treated like a common criminal for upholding the freedom of speech and justice.

Being married to him for 35 years, I know only too well that he is capable of making sacrifices for truth, justice and freedom. I suspect that when I was told that he did not want to see me, that he would be taking the ultimate step – to go on a hunger strike to demonstrate his determination to uphold the cause of truth and justice.

I have nothing more to say, as I am thoroughly exhausted by the turn of events and can only hope and pray that my fellow citizens, especially wives and mothers out there, that you would all come together to protest and to demand for my beloved husband's freedom and that you will call upon your member of parliament to boycott parliament as a gesture of support for my husband’s struggle.

His struggle must not be in vain. We as a family will see this through but we will only be able to cope if we know that good and god fearing people like you will be there and standing together with us shoulder to shoulder to strike a fatal blow against tyranny and for justice and truth and for my husband’s freedom.

Marina Lee

An Open Letter to RPK

An Open Letter to RPK
Wednesday, 07 May 2008

Dear Raja Petra,

You must not languish in custody. We have to get you out on bail.

If on ground of principle, you do not wish to pay it, I will pay it.

It's extremely important that you come back to us to continue your courageous acts. I have been telling my children that if there is a Malaysian role-model we can look to, it is none of the BN goons, certainly not the Prime Minister and his cohorts, absolutely not the so-called spaceman, nor the sailor who fell from grace with the sea and yet got celebrated.

The real Malaysian role-model is you, sir. For courage, for standing up for what you believe in, for defying oppression, for exposing the truth despite the odds.

This is a time for heroes. And we need our heroes to be free, to fight, to stand up for us all. Not spend time in prison. We need the truth to be made known. We need the truth to set our beloved country free.

We need you to be free.

Kee Thuan Chye

Civil Society Groups Express Solidarity with RPK

Wednesday, 07 May 2008

It is with great concern that we, representing several Civil Society Action Groups, note that Raja Petra Kamarudin, Editor of news portal and blog, “Malaysia Today”, has been charged in the Petaling Jaya Sessions court with sedition in connection with an article he wrote and posted up at on April 25, 2008.

We call on all Malaysians concerned with the freedom of information and speech to stand up in support of a fellow Malaysian who has been writing “without fear or favour” on issues of public and national concern.

The charge against Raja Petra is in connection with a Post entitled “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. In our view the sedition charge is malicious and without merit. It is also politically motivated and aimed at silencing one of the most eloquent, dedicated and uncompromising voices speaking in defense of the rights of Malaysians and against the abuse of power stemming from the highest level of government and authority.

We urge the Government to re-consider its action in pursuing what is being perceived in the country and internationally as blatantly selective and repressive persecution. The 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.

We are disappointed that, despite the Government’s rhetoric of learning from its past mistakes, it continues to rely on heavy handed authoritarian means to instill fear and to discourage its citizens from freely engaging in public discourse.

This action of the Government coming just a few days after World Press Freedom Day (which fell on May 3) especially makes a mockery of the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s expression of commitment to democratic and social reforms to promote a more open and transparent government.

We stress that a draconian law such as the Sedition Act has no place in a democratic society. Unlike the law on defamation, one cannot defend him/herself from a charge of sedition on the ground of truthfulness. In other words, messengers may be shot for simply uttering the truth. That the State is willing to use its instruments to charge Raja Petra for sedition instead of the aggrieved party resorting to civil defamation points to the need for thorough reform of our media laws. This is not a new demand but one which has been consistently raised by civil society.

As civil society action groups, we call upon all political parties, non-government organizations and individuals to express their concern and to show solidarity with Raja Petra. All freedom loving Malaysians must impress on the Government the need to withdraw this obnoxious action against a conscientious writer and true Malaysian.

Finally, we urge fellow Malaysians to respond positively to a coordinated initiative now being planned to raise funds (a token amount of RM1 per person) in defence of Raja Petra and to show our solidarity for a national cause aimed at protecting and promoting our freedom of speech.

Press Statement issued jointly by:

Dr Lim Teck Ghee,
Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI)

Bernard Khoo,
For Ahirudin Attan
President, Interim Council
National Alliance of Bloggers

Wong Chin Huat
Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)

Gayathry V.
Executive Director
Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)

Ser Choon Ing
Chairman of Civil Rights Committee
KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall


Sedition charge raises more questions

Sedition charge raises more questions
Dr Mustafa K Anuar & Anil Netto
May 7, 2008

Charter 2000-Aliran is appalled by the Malaysian authorities' action in charging prominent blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin with sedition for allegedly implying that deputy prime minister Najib Razak was involved in the sensational killing of a young Mongolian woman.

The sedition charge stems from a April 25 article entitled ‘Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell’ that Raja Petra posted on his popular ‘Malaysia Today’ website.

We, like many other concerned Malaysians, are shocked that such a sedition charged has been used against Raja Petra as opposed to a more appropriate action that could have been taken by the aggrieved party (i.e. Najib and wife), which is to sue Raja Petra for supposed defamation.

Raja Petra now sits in remand in Sungai Buloh Prison after refusing bail, and he will remain there until Oct 6 when his trial begins. If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to three years and/or face a fine of up to RM5,000.

Under the Sedition Act, a ‘seditious tendency’ implies, among other things, ‘a tendency to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any ruler or against any government’. Are we to conclude that alleging complicity in a murder case on the part of a government leader is tantamount to causing the Malaysian public to go against the entire (federal) government? Would one supposedly rotten apple spoil the whole tree?

The authorities’ action only raises more questions. It raises suspicion that it is meant not only to politically bludgeon Raja Petra but also to make an example of him for the rest of the blogging fraternity and civil society.

Many Malaysians are clearly not impressed with the latest turn of events. In a sense, it reveals just how out of touch the authorities are with the new political realities after March 8 especially in dealing with an electorate that now demands greater respect for freedom of the media and of expression.

The writers are coordinators, Charter 2000-Aliran.

Malaysiakini - Letters

Raja Petra's charge: What double standard is this?

Raja Petra's charge: What double standard is this?
Hamdan Ibrahim
May 7, 2008

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Raja Petra charged, chooses jail over bail.

Our own version of Mahatma Ghandi, Raja Petra who chooses jail rather than bail on his sedition charges had won the respect of the public for his steadfast principle to stick to his guns come what may. By going to jail, he will put the government in the spot as public sentiment will be on his side. What a brilliant strategy on Raja Petra’s side to put the government on the defensive.

Selective persecution seem to be the weapon of choice of the authorities to stop bloggers from giving their two sen of opinion on the Internet. One wonder if the present regime is trying to silence dissenting voices from reaching the public by charging a well-known blogger.

Raja Petra’s well-written and hardhitting articles on the high-profile Mongolian murder case have hit a raw nerve among those top guns whom names he mentions in his blog.

Presently there are a lot of corruption cases among the ruling elite, cases which seem to gather dust in the public prosecutor’s office. But once the cases involve the opposition members, just a trivial thing can land the individuals in jail. What double standard is this?

Raja Petra might not be the first person to face the wrath of the law by publishing interesting articles which ridicule corrupt politicians on their misdeeds but now other bloggers too must watch their backs as what they post on the Internet might make them to be on the ‘wrong side’ of the law and they will have to face the music as well.

When will the government ever learn that you cannot control information from reaching out to the public in this global world that we live in. The mainstream media is not the choice of the reading public what with their stale news.

We cannot prevent people from reading the alternative medias and blogs for information on the wheelings and dealings of the ruling elite as they empty public coffers. More often than not, their articles are true as compared to mainstream news media controlled by the government.

Our freedom of speech is under assault today with the jailing of Raja Petra and one can only hope that other brave souls who dare to expose the misdeeds of the ruling elite will not be cowed by this unfortunate incident and will continue to report the truth about what is wrong with this country. This despite that it might expose the high and mighty’s lack of integrity while they are in power.

Raja Petra is a torchbearer of the good against evil in this country. Let us all decent Malaysians pray and at the same time donate some token sum to his defence team. May his ultimate sacrifice in going to jail galvanise other decent people to speak out loud and clear on what is wrong in this country.

We cannot allow corrupt politicians to have it their way by intimidating and jailing those who expose public officials misdeeds in public. Only tyrants with their vain ego still thinks that they can control the people with government apparatus and stop dissenting voices from being heard.

Let us hope our strong opposition in Parliament will bring up Raja Petra’s case which is seen as nothing but political persecution by all right-thinking members of the public.

Malaysiakini - Letters

Bloggers: Sedition charge politically motivated - Malaysiakini

Bloggers: Sedition charge politically motivated
S Pathmawathy - Malaysiakini
May 7, 2008

An alliance of civil society groups and bloggers today expressed their solidarity and support to Raja Petra Kamarudin and blog commentator Syed Akbar Ali, who were separately charged with sedition yesterday.

"We are seated here in solidarity for fellow writers and bloggers to make our stand on similar action that may be taken against other writers and journalists in future," said Interim Council National Alliance of Bloggers president Ahirudin Attan.

"This move is politically motivated and aimed at silencing a principled and uncompromising voice speaking against the abuse of power," he said in a group statement.

"We urge the government to re-consider its actions what is being perceived to be blatantly selective and repressive persecution.

"In our view the sedition charge is malicious and without merit," he said.

Selective persecution

Dr Lim Teck Ghee of the Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI) said the issue carries momentous implications for the freedom of speech and freedom of expression in the country.

"This case is very clearly one of selective political persecution," he said.

"It is an old law and based on a law which is obsolete and should have no place in a democratic society.

"If his voice and similar voices are continually silenced it would be a very sad day for Malaysia," he said.

The alliance also said that the Sedition Act expresses the idea that "the messenger may be shot for simply uttering the truth".

"The fact that the charge against Raja Petra comes just days after commemorating World Press Freedom day is very shocking," said Centre for Independent Journalism executive director V Gayathry.

She said Raja Petra has yielded a following in the public sphere.

"Issues that come up in his posting are reflection on how people see the justice being meted out in this country," she said.

Bernard Khoo (left), a blogger who goes by the name of 'Zorro-unmasked' said "we blog because we want to say what has to be said".

"We blog because there are people out there who listen to what we say … we are willing to put our necks on the line so that what we say gets to the people who listen," he said.

Malaysian blogger jailed - AP

Malaysian blogger jailed over article allegedly implicating deputy leader in killing
The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 6, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: A prominent Malaysian blogger was charged Tuesday with sedition for allegedly implying the deputy prime minister was involved in the sensational killing of a young Mongolian woman.

Raja Petra Raja Kamaruddin, who has not denied that he linked Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak to the slaying, pleaded innocent to the charge, telling reporters that he should have the right to hold the powerful accountable for wrongdoing.

He was taken to prison after he refused to post bail. The court set the trial for Oct. 6. If convicted, he faces up to three years in jail.

"I am not posting bail. See you guys in October," Raja Petra told supporters before police took him away. "I will be out for Christmas. Don't worry."

Dozens of opposition members and bloggers gathered to show support for Raja Petra outside the Kuala Lumpur court where he was charged. They said they would raise public donations to post bail for him later.

"Raja Petra has done a lot to raise people's awareness of issues," said Nurul Izzah Anwar, an opposition member of Parliament and daughter of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

"This is an attempt to clamp down on all sorts of freedom," she said.

The sedition charge stems from an April 25 article titled "Let's Send the Altantuya Murderers to Hell" that Raja Petra posted on his popular Web site Malaysia Today.

The article allegedly implies that Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, were involved in the 2006 killing in Malaysia of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a 28-year-old Mongolian interpreter.

Abdul Razak Baginda, a close associate of Najib, is charged with abetting the murder. Two policemen have been accused of killing her and destroying her body with explosives in a jungle clearing. The trial of the three men began in June 2007 and is under way.

The prosecution contends that Abdul Razak had the woman killed because she pestered him for money after he ended their affair.


8 March 2008

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