MALAYSIA: KL cops grill website operator over 'seditious postings'
Police question website operator to investigate whether his website Malaysia Today insulted the king, incited racism
The Straits Times
Thursday, July 26, 2007
By Chow Kum Hor
Prominent website operator Raja Petra Kamaruddin, now a rallying figure for netizens fearful of a crackdown on online dissent, was quizzed by police for eight hours yesterday.
The webmaster, who is the cousin of the Selangor Sultan, was summoned to help police investigations into an allegation that his Malaysia Today website had insulted the King and incited racial hatred.
Umno information chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib had lodged a police report on Monday against the popular website, which claims 340,000 daily visitors.
Police chief Zulkarnain Abdul Rahman of the Dang Wangi district in Kuala Lumpur told reporters that the probe was over comments posted by individuals on the website.
"I was shown about a dozen comments, many of which I do not know on which article, where they were posted..." Raja Petra told The Straits Times by phone soon after leaving the police station.
"There are about five million comments altogether," he said.
"Out of that, only about two I consider as seditious. The rest, the police misunderstood the meaning."
He said one comment was that there was no need for the nation to have a Yang di-Pertuan Agong, as the King is referred to.
Raja Petra, 56, put out an alert himself on Malaysia Today that he had been summoned to the police station at 11am.
His wife Marina Lee Abdullah, several friends and a number of opposition leaders turned up at the police station to give him moral support.
Also present were bloggers, including the webmaster of an opposition party website, Mr Nathaniel Tan. He was also detained recently in connection with a probe under the Official Secrets Act.
Raja Petra, who was seen carrying several books on Islam when he arrived at the police station, continues to receive almost unanimous support online.
A netizen who goes by the name of "Malaysian Citizen" has started an online petition asking the government to probe some of the alleged misdeeds of Tan Sri Muhammad contained in a Malaysia Today posting.
The article, penned by Raja Petra hours after Monday's police report, revisited Tan Sri Muhammad's past, including how he secretly wed the late Sultan of Selangor's daughter.
It recounted how Tan Sri Muhammad was charged in Australia for bringing in an equivalent of RM2.4 million (S$1 million) into that country in 1997. He was later acquitted by an Australian court.
As of 8.30pm yesterday, there were more than 700 signatories to the petition, which was less than a day old.
On Tuesday, de facto Law Minister Nazri Aziz had threatened to use the Internal Security Act and the Sedition Act against bloggers who raise sensitive issues.
Opposition leader and blogger Ronnie Liu said: "If the writings of bloggers are seditious or defamatory, there are laws for action to be taken against them."
Another leading blogger, Mr Jeff Ooi, penned more than six postings in support of Raja Petra.
The police have also come under criticism. A reader of the Malaysiakini news portal wrote, referring to the police: "Is the PDRM bent on policing the Internet now, when there are so many unresolved criminal cases lying about?"
Date Posted: 7/26/2007