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Nov 15, 2008

Raja Petra caught in the middle of a power struggle

malaysianinsider | Raja Petra Kamarudin knows he could soon go back to jail. The country’s leading blogger was released by order of the Shah Alam High Court last week, after being held in detention since Sept 12, but his troubles are far from over and his freedom could be shortlived.

"The decision to free me was a good sign of a new-found strength by the judiciary. But it is only a sign," said the blogger, who was arrested under the Internal Security Act.

The ISA is an inheritance from the British, who used it in the colony prior to independence in 1957. In essence, it allows for the arrest and internment of any person without the need for a trial in certain defined circumstances.

Raja Petra's alleged crimes were linked to his writing. For several years he has published provocative opinion pieces on the issues of the day, as well as a number of articles unmasking corruption scandals, drawing his information from a wide array of contacts. His blog, Malaysia Today, is one of the most popular sources of independent news in a country where the mainstream media refrains from criticising the government.

With popularity, however, came a lot of trouble. His latest arrest stemmed from accusations lodged by several religious groups, which claimed that his Aug 8 article entitled "I promise to be a good, non-hypocritical Muslim" had offended Islam.

After being held for a few days, he was sentenced to two years in detention without trial. But, on Nov 5, High Court judge Mr Justice Datuk Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad ruled that the arrest of Raja Petra, 58, was contrary to the constitution and said he should be released. He was freed two days later.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail is expected to file an appeal against the decision, and the blogger could find himself back in custody.... selanjutnya.


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