‘Legendary’ Petra goes to jail

 

By now, news of Raja Petra Kamaruddin (RPK), the editor of the well-known Malaysia Today website, being charged with sedition for allegedly implying that deputy prime minister Najib Razak was somehow involved in the murder of a young Mongolian woman would have reached not only many Malaysians but also other concerned people around the world. And the fact that the famous blogger opted for a jail sentence as opposed to posting bail would further heighten public interest. 

 

This turn of events has not only foregrounded once again the Altantuya court case in Malaysian political landscape but also put a spotlight on the judiciary and, not least, the controversial Sedition Act (1948). This piece of legislation has been used by the powers-that-be in recent past in ways that suggest that the Act often functions as a mechanism of political harassment and intimidation. And the use of the same law in the case of RPK raises once again scepticism and suspicion that it is aimed at frightening inquisitive bloggers and journalists.

 

The broad definition of what constitutes a ‘seditious tendency’ in the law has become a bone of contention over the years among human rights activists, concerned journalists and devotees of freedom of expression.

 

In post-March 8 Malaysia, there is an urgent need to consider seriously a repeal of this questionable Act.

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