Raja Petra (Pic by johnleemk; source: Wikipedia commons)
PETALING JAYA, 23 April 2009: Influential blogger Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin has turned fugitive after a warrant for his arrest was issued today when he failed to appear in court for his sedition trial.
In his Malaysia Today website, he said he opted not to appear in court because he believed he would be rearrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
He also believed that he would be charged for treason, and decided to go into self-imposed exile as punishment after a fall-out with the Selangor palace over the Perak constitutional crisis.
Petaling Jaya Sessions Court judge Rozina Ayub today issued a warrant of arrest for Raja Petra after he failed to appear in court this morning.
His counsel J Chandra told the court today that his client had explained his absence in a blog posting on his Malaysia Today website, titled Why I am absent in court today.
Raja Petra outlined two main reasons. One was that he faced rearrest under the ISA as he claimed a new detention order had been signed for him.
He said his friends were being asked by the police to reveal his whereabouts so that he could be rearrested.
“If I were to turn up in court today I would never be allowed to leave. The police would immediately detain me and send me to Kamunting,” he said.
“After two ISA detentions, I do not plan to allow them to get me so easily the third time around. I also refuse to face treason charges that will result in me being sent to the gallows. I love my life and wish to remain alive a few years longer if possible,” he said.
Interestingly, in an earlier blog posting on 16 February, Raja Petra vowed continued resistance against the government even if it meant being behind bars in Kamunting.
In Probably My Last Message To Malaysians, he said he refused advice to seek political asylum in another country, even at the cost of his freedom.
He also said he would refuse medical treatment, and the food provided by the Kamunting authorities. He said he was prepared to be dead by the end of seven to eight days after refusing food and water.
“I lay down my life for this nation of ours called Malaysia. I will sacrifice myself for the sake of the struggle,” he wrote.
In today’s blog posting, Raja Petra said he also believed he would eventually be charged for treason for his 2 March open letter to Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, in which he expressed views that went against the Perak sultan.
He said the letter had angered his family, and the Selangor royalty, of which he is a member. He said his family wanted him to issue a public apology to the Perak sultan.
He refused to do so, and also refused to attend a family meeting to discuss the situation. He was then given an ultimatum to either make a public apology or be publicly disowned by his family.
Raja Petra said his response to that was to go into exile outside Selangor. “As a matter of fact, I even missed two recent family funerals, as I could not and would not step foot in Selangor ever again.”
He said exile was the normal punishment for any member of the kerabat or royal family who had displeased the palace.
Raja Petra said he would attend his court hearing “when the situation permits”, that is when he is satisfied that he would not be charged for treason, when the government withdraws its appeal against his ISA release, and when he feels that there is no new detention order for his rearrest.
His sedition trial is over an article, Let’s Send the Altantuya Murderers to Hell, posted on his website on 25 April 2008.
Raja Petra was detained a second time under the ISA on 12 Sept and was ordered to the Kamunting Detention Centre for two years on 23 Sept by the home minister. But the Shah Alam High Court released him from ISA detention on 7 Nov. The government is appealing.
His first ISA detention was in April 2001 for his involvement in the reformasi movement.