Tuesday, September 23, 2008

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23 September 2008

Raja Petra sent to Kamunting
S Pathmawathy Sep 23, 08 9:34am
Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin was sent to the Kamunting Detention Centre in Taiping, Perak, this morning to begin his two-year detention without trial under the Internal Security Act.
Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar last night signed the detention order for the blogger to be held under section 8(1) of the tough security law. Under the Act, the initial two-year detention period can be renewed indefinitely.According to journalists stationed outside the Kamunting detention camp, Raja Petra arrived at 11.50am in a white van with heavily-tinted windows.
"The act by the minister to sign the section 8 order yesterday is completely unacceptable," said Raja Petra's lead lawyer Malik Imtiaz. The legal team believes the minister’s decision was linked to a habeas corpus hearing in the Kuala Lumpur High Court this morning, which had been filed by Raja Petra's lawyers to secure his release.
(A writ of habeas corpus orders the authorities to produce prisoners before a judge to ascertain if there are any procedural defects which could render their detention unlawful.)
Speaking to reporters later, Malik said “the arrest was issued last night to avoid the consequences of this habeas corpus”.
Senior federal counsel Abdul Wahab Mohamad had argued that the hearing was rendered academic as the clause under which Raja Petra is now detained supercedes section 73(1) of the ISA, under which he was initially held.
However, Malik countered: “Section 73(1) detention was without basis, unconstitutional and in bad faith… so the minister’s order could only have been the result of enquiry by the police, meaning that the section 73(1) order flows into the minister’s (present) order.
“Because it flows, what we say is that the question of whether this section 73(1) detention was lawful is a matter which is relevant for the challenge on the section 8 order.”
Malik pointed out that, if the matter is argued under the section 73(1) order, the court can review the matter objectively and look into the basis of detention.
Still, the legal team will file another suit to challenge the section 8 order - even if the court’s jurisdiction is limited to weighing the procedure only.Malik said the basis of detention under section 73(1) and section 8(1) is the same.
“(Section 8) is relevant to section 73(1). So if we declare this to be unlawful, we can have a basis to argue that the minister’s detention is not just irregular for procedure - therefore showing the minister has no power to make the order. And that would give a wider basis to argue,” he said.
Judge Suraya Othman told lawyers to make their submissions on Oct 28.
Ex-minister attends hearing Also present in the court was former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim, who sat next to Marina.
“He (Raja Petra) writes well, he speaks his mind and we need more people like him said Zaid (left in photo), who had resigned to protest the use of the ISA to detain Raja Petra and two others on Sept 12.Zaid said he attended the hearing to show support for the wives of many others being held under the restrictive law.
“We should encourage people to speak out. If (those detained) have done wrong (then) we (should) charge them (in court),” he said.
Zaid also said that freedom of expression and of speech are important values and that “we cannot intimidate with fear”.
Earlier this morning, Raja Petra's wife Marina Lee Abdullah had confirmed the continued detention of her husband.
“(Police) said my husband had been sent to Kamunting this morning and that he will remain there for two years with no trial. This is the worst news I can receive but we will keep fighting for his release,” she told AFP, holding back tears.
“This is very unfair… we have filed our affidavit, they don’t reply to our affidavit for five days… this is ridiculous. This is a political move, it is very clear… he is not a threat to national security - it is bullshit.“
This is dirty foul play by the government as they know that we are in the process of fighting for his release in the court, but I was expecting this.”
Raja Petra, 58, has been under police custody in an unknown location since his arrest.
Fellow-detainees Sin Chew Daily senior journalist Tan Hoon Cheng, 33, was freed 18 hours after being arrested, while Selangor senior executive councillor and Seputeh parliamentarian Teresa Kok, 43 was released after seven days.
According to his lawyer J Chandra, Raja Petra was arrested for publishing articles on his news portal which allegedly tarnished the leadership of the country and insulted the sanctity of Islam.
The former newspaper columnist had earlier been charged with sedition and defamation after linking Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife to the sensational murder of a Mongolian woman.

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