Released blogger tells his story
Prominent Malaysia blogger, Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) was released this morning after insisting on being detained in prison the last three days. He is the first Malaysia blogger ever to be charged under the Sedition Act section 4(1)(c).
Upon his release he blogged his experience and explained to his readers, fellow bloggers and the public in general.
Below is his account taken directly from his blog:
My wife is very touched with the support shown and the solidarity demonstrated by friends, bloggers and readers of Malaysia Today. In such a situation words can never really explain how one feels. To all Malaysians, on behalf of my wife and my entire family, I would like to express our most sincere gratitude. And this comes from the bottom of our hearts.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
When the police came to my home last Friday to confiscate my computers, I was not at all shocked or perturbed. I had half-expected that to happen considering the response to my 25 April 2008 article in this same column, Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell (read the article here). And the response I am talking about is the public statement by the wife of the Deputy Prime Minister plus the letter from the Deputy Prime Minister’s Press Secretary (read the letter here).
As the police left my house, they issued me a Section 111 order to report to the Cyber Crime Division of Bukit Aman at 11.00am the following morning for my statement to be recorded. However, at 3.15pm that same day, they phoned me and asked whether I could go there at 4.00pm instead, that means in 45 minutes time, rather than the following day at 11.00am as originally ordered.
I phoned Sam, my lawyer, and he told me I need not comply to this ‘request’ as the Section 111 order had stipulated 11.00am, Saturday, 3 May 2008 and not 4.00pm, Friday, 2 May 2008. Since the order said 11.00am Saturday, then that is the date and time I should report to Bukit Aman and I can legally refuse to their request to come in a day earlier.
Nevertheless, I decided to consent to this request although I had legal grounds to refuse to do so. The police then told me that a police report had been made against me on the article mentioned above so they have to take my statement. I asked to see a copy of the police report plus the statement from the person who had lodged the report but they admitted they did not have it nor has the police officer who was to take my statement seen it yet. For all intents and purposes it did not exist. (Read the full story here: Towering Malays and the ‘hush’ on Peace Hill)
On Monday, at about 9.15pm, I received a phone call from the same police officer who raided my house three days earlier and he wanted to know if I could go to the Jalan Duta magistrates court at 9.30am the following morning, Tuesday, 6 May 2008. He asked me to look for DSP Mahfuz and said that they will be charging me. I asked what they were charging me for and he replied that he does not know. I then said if he knows that I am supposed to report to the Jalan Duta magistrates court and what time and day I am supposed to report there, surely he must know what I am going to be charged for. He replied maybe it is for sedition but he is not sure.
I called the police officer back five minutes later and he confirmed that it will be for sedition after all. But there are so many courts in Jalan Duta. Which court am I supposed to go to? He did not know. He said just hang around the lobby and they will come find me and escort me to the correct court.
I arrived in Jalan Duta at 8.45am, 45 minutes ahead of schedule. By 10.15am I was still hanging around and no DSP Mahfuz came to see me. One of my lawyers then went upstairs to try to find out which court my case was going to be held in and he came back to inform me that there is no case registered yet in the Jalan Duta magistrates court.
At 10.30am, I received a phone call from DSP Mahfuz asking me to go to the PJ sessions court. We all rushed to PJ and arrived there at 11.00am as instructed only to find out that there is no case registered there as well. In fact, the magistrate was on medical leave. Furthermore, no charges against me had been prepared yet.
I was asked to sit down and wait while they phone the magistrate to come back to work. They also needed to prepare the charge and register my case. It appears like they had decided to charge me first and then prepared the charge and decided which court to charge me in as an afterthought.
Under the Sedition Act they need to arrest me or at the very least issue me a summons. A summons under the Sedition Act is bailable but not compoundable like in a traffic summons. The maximum fine is RM5,000 or a jail term of three years or both. In my case, they had not served any summons, nor had they served a warrant of arrest, and my case was not even registered nor the charges prepared. For all intents and purposes, I was in court on my own free will and I need not have gone there if I did not want to.
After a lot of last minute preparing the charge, registering my case, and the magistrate on sick leave finally coming back to work, etc., they charged me, to which I pleaded not guilty. They then set the maximum bail of RM5,000.
This RM5,000 bail was absolutely unnecessary. I need not even have gone to court. There was no legal obligation on my part to do so. They just phoned me to ask whether I could go to court and I agreed to do so. I did so willingly, demonstrating full cooperation, and without forcing them to follow proper procedures. After all, how do I know who was on the other line? How do I know that this was a legitimate and not a crank call? They produced no evidence that I was to be charged and they did ask whether I could come to court -- and a question like that is open to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. They did not say I must go to court. They asked whether I could go to court.
So, when they imposed the maximum RM5,000 bail I refused to pay it and instead chose to be remanded until the day of the hearing in October 2008. When they asked me why, I replied that they could have posed bail on personal bond seeing how I was very cooperative and did not offer any resistance. I did not even insist they follow proper procedures but was quite willing to respond to mere phone calls.
When I arrived in Sungai Buloh Prison, something happened that put the entire prison on full alert. Sirul and Azilah, who were in the same block as me, Blok Damai, shouted for me to watch my back and that they will get me. I was quickly whisked out of the block. It seems they were angry that the Altantuya murder trial, which had disappeared from the radar screens, has now, again, been given the spotlight. Why should that upset them? Why the need for the Altantuya murder trial to disappear from the radar screens?
I was then assigned to my own cell, cell 8, and was not allowed to come into contact with any of the other prisoners. My cell door was permanently locked and whenever I had to leave my cell they would assign two or three Special Forces personnel, UPK, as my bodyguards. As further precautions, I refused to touch any drink or food as I remembered very well the arsenic poisoning that Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim suffered when he too was in the same prison.
So, from the time I entered prison until the time I walked out four days later, I did not eat or drink, which of course the prison interpreted as a hunger strike. They told me that a hunger strike is a serious crime and they could charge me for that. But that was the least of my worries at that point of time.
I met no less than five or six senior officers at different points of time who all insisted that I agree to meet my wife and lawyers so that they could arrange bail for me. I made it very clear that I refuse to see anyone because I do not want them to start crying and begging me to agree to bail as that would weaken me. If I shut myself out from the rest of the world that would make it easier to stand firm.
The head of the Special Forces and someone from the Intelligence Unit also met me to explain that they will try their best to keep me safe. Nevertheless, they can’t watch over me 100% of the time so my continued presence in prison is a great burden to the entire staff. We are on full alert and we have to report to the ministry every hour on the hour. No one can sleep because of you, they said, so please agree to bail and leave.
Read the rest of the story here