KUALA LUMPUR, 23 Sept 2008: Blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin was sent to the Kamunting Detention Centre today after the Home Minister signed an order to detain him for two years under section 8 (1) of the Internal Security Act (ISA).
Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar signed the order last night to detain the Malaysia-Today news portal editor, who was initially arrested under section 73(1) of the ISA on 12 Sept 2008.
As such Raja Petra’s habeas corpus application seeking his release, which was scheduled to be heard this morning, is academic, the High Court here heard today.
Senior federal counsel Abdul Wahab Mohamad in his preliminary objection said that with the fresh detention order under section 8(1) becoming operative, Raja Petra’s detention was no longer under the purview of the Inspector-General of Police as stated in the notice of motion filed on 16 Sept.
“We submit that any issues that transpired before the issuance of the detention cannot be subject to judicial inquiry,” he said.
The main issue of the applicant had become purely academic, he said, urging the court to dismiss the application.
Raja Petra, 58, filed a habeas corpus application on 16 Sept seeking his release from ISA detention on the grounds that the detention was unlawful and contravened the Federal Constitution. He named the Inspector-General of police and the Kamunting Detention Camp as respondents.
Section 73(1) allows a person to be held for up to 60 days without trial for the police to investigate and make their recommendations to the minister.
Raja Petra’s counsel, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, said he was just informed about his client’s detention under the minister’s order.
“Our application definitely has bearing and definitely affects his (Raja Petra) liberty provided under the Federal Constitution,” he said.
He said that even though he would file an application to challenge the minister’s order, he wanted the court to hear the habeas corpus application since it still involved “life issues”.
Justice Suraya Othman said that since the application had been overtaken by events, she fixed 28 Oct for both parties to make further submissions before the court decided whether to hear further on the matter.
Meanwhile in RANTAU PANJANG, Syed Hamid said he himself had signed the detention order on Raja Petra yesterday after he was satisfied with the reasons given for his detention.
“The detention is due to Raja Petra’s articles that ridiculed Islam which could arouse anger among Muslims.
“The police had recommended his detention and after going through the papers, we are satisfied that there are strong grounds for him to be further detained for two years (in Kamunting),” he told reporters after a visit to the Malaysia-Thai border area, here today.
Besides him, two others arrested under the ISA were Seputeh member of parliament Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng, but the two were later released.
Syed Hamid, however, said that after the first three months, the authorities would review Raja Petra’s attitude while in detention.
“Then the second review will be after six months, and we’ll see whether he can be released or not,” he added.
Syed Hamid said the people should understand why the government decided to use the ISA, as what was important was to turn offenders into members of society who could contribute to nation building.
He said to date, he had not received any official proposals to free the other ISA detainees.
“If there are, I will look at them. But again what is more important is for the detainees to change to be able to return to society and together with other citizens, take part in nation building,” he said. — Bernama