If the Malaysian government had hoped that the recent detention of controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin would quell the country's vociferous blogger community, it may need to look elsewhere.
Bloggers, civil-rights groups, nongovernment organizations, and politicians from both sides of the camp have stepped out to condemn the detention of the founder and editor of the blocked Malaysia Today news portal. Raja Petra was detained earlier this month for two years under Malaysia's Internal Security Act, which permits detention without trial.
Raja Petra, in addition to Sin Chew Daily newspaper reporter Tan Hoon Cheng and opposition lawmaker Teresa Kok, were arrested September 12. While Kok and Tan were subsequently released, Raja Petra was remanded in a two-year detention at the Kamunting ISA detention center in Perak state. He also faces charges of sedition and criminal defamation for linking Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife to the murder of a Mongolian woman.
The ISA is a security law, inherited from the British colonial government, specifically to fight against communist terrorists. Civil-rights groups, politicians, and various international bodies have condemned the use of the ISA against bloggers and members of the media.
Zaid Ibrahim, appointed a minister after the March 2008 elections to oversee legal affairs and judicial reform, resigned from the prime minister's cabinet in protest of the arrests.
Galvanizing effect Various groups and bloggers have been attempting to garner international support against the incarceration of the Malaysia Today editor. … Read more