by S Pathmawathy
May 7, 2008
An alliance of civil society groups and bloggers today expressed their solidarity and support to Raja Petra Kamarudin and blog commentator Syed Akbar Ali, who were separately charged with sedition yesterday.
“We are seated here in solidarity for fellow writers and bloggers to make our stand on similar action that may be taken against other writers and journalists in future,” said Interim Council National Alliance of Bloggers president Ahirudin Attan.
“This move is politically motivated and aimed at silencing a principled and uncompromising voice speaking against the abuse of power,” he said in a group statement.
“We urge the government to re-consider its actions what is being perceived to be blatantly selective and repressive persecution.
“In our view the sedition charge is malicious and without merit,” he said.
Dr Lim Teck Ghee of the Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI) said the issue carries momentous implications for the freedom of speech and freedom of expression in the country.
“This case is very clearly one of selective political persecution,” he said.
“It is an old law and based on a law which is obsolete and should have no place in a democratic society.
“If his voice and similar voices are continually silenced it would be a very sad day for Malaysia,” he said.
The alliance also said that the Sedition Act expresses the idea that “the messenger may be shot for simply uttering the truth”.
“The fact that the charge against Raja Petra comes just days after commemorating World Press Freedom day is very shocking,” said Centre for Independent Journalism executive director V Gayathry.
She said Raja Petra has yielded a following in the public sphere.
“Issues that come up in his posting are reflection on how people see the justice being meted out in this country,” she said.
Bernard Khoo (left), a blogger who goes by the name of ‘Zorro-unmasked’ said “we blog because we want to say what has to be said”.
“We blog because there are people out there who listen to what we say … we are willing to put our necks on the line so that what we say gets to the people who listen,” he said.