All must condemn Raja Petra’s arrest and show-cause letters

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It is blatantly obvious that the state is now resorting to the use of dictatorial and draconian measures to intimidate all those who wish to tell and reveal the truths, observes Aliran member Toh Kin Woon. Even those who merely do their job honestly as journalists and the newspapers that they work for are not spared. It is increasingly obvious, too, that the present Federal Government is not prepared to allow the space for freedom of speech, including the freedom of the press.

I learnt with great alarm and concern just a while ago of the arrest of famous Malaysian blogger, Raja Petra bin Raja Kamaruddin, also popularly known as RPK, under the highly obnoxious Internal Security Act (ISA) by the Federal Government. I am equally concerned over the issuance of show cause letters by the Ministry of Home Affairs to the Sin Chew Chinese daily, theSun and Suara Keadilan, the official weekly of Parti Keadilan, as to why their publishing permits should not be withdrawn.

RPK is a blogger known for his courage and commitment to justice, fair play and a non-racial approach to nation building. His blog, Malaysia Today, is extremely popular as it reveals the truth behind many issues that have hogged the limelight. But the truth often is not what our leaders in the Federal Government would like Malaysians to know. The reason is obvious; such truths put them in a bad light. They therefore attempt to whitewash them with their own spins or non-revelation of the facts. But by revealing them, RPK has made Malaysians more aware of the many cases of abuses and corruption that have drained the country of its precious assets, and demoralised the nation’s workforce. By doing so, he has also advanced the cause of justice. It is shocking that immediately after promising not to block access to the electronic media, the Federal Government should resort to this draconian measure of using the ISA to detain RPK. I condemn this arrest and call on the Federal Government to immediately and unconditionally release RPK. If the latter has violated any laws, he should be brought to court for a fair and impartial trial.

It is equally shocking that the Ministry of Home Affairs should issue a show cause letter to the Sin Chew Daily, theSun and the Suara Keadilan. From what I know, they merely reported on what was said by some leaders during the Permatang Pauh by-election. If these news reports contain racial undertones, the fault lies with those who made those statements, and not those who reported on and published them. Yet the same Ministry did not see it fit to take any action against those who uttered racist and seditious statements, but instead chose to punish those who reported and published them. This is clearly turning justice on its head. Again, I condemn such a high-handed action of the Ministry and call upon it to withdraw such show cause letters.

It is blatantly obvious that the state is now resorting to the use of dictatorial and draconian measures to intimidate all those who wish to tell and reveal the truths. Even those who merely do their job honestly as journalists and the newspapers that they work for are not spared. It is increasingly obvious, too, that the present Federal Government is not prepared to allow the space for freedom of speech, including the freedom of the press. But Malaysians want such a space. The obvious way for them to realise their goal is to support a change of government at the Federal level.

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