Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Comedy Of Errors

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin

Yes, guilty as charged. I have stolen this line from Shakespeare. But I can’t help it. What better way to describe the eight hours I spent under interrogation at the Dangi Wangi Police Station yesterday other than it was a comedy of errors? By the way, before I go on, I have received more than a thousand phone calls, SMSes and e-mails from well-wishers and supporters. I have not found the time to reply to each and everyone yet so I hope you will forgive me for my rudeness. I am certainly touched by the concern and the messages of support posted in Malaysia Today’s blogs. From the fight for more freedom in Malaysia shall continue come hell or high water.

I received a call from the police at 8.00am yesterday that they want to record my statement on the police report lodged by an ex-Selangor Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name. I saw the phone call coming and was not only expecting it but was hoping that they would summon me for interrogation so that I can expose this entire episode for the farce that it really is. In short, I pushed their hand with the ‘See you in hell Muhamad son of Muhamad’ article so that they would be forced to make their move on me.

They wanted me in at 10 but I told them I can only make it at 11. I wanted to update the website first in case my visit to Dangi Wangi ends up a two-week stay.

According to the press reports, the police report made against me was with regards to an article I wrote on 11 July 2007 that they regard as insulting the Agong and Islam. By the way, in case you did not know, Malaysia does not have a king so please stop referring to the Agong as King. Agong does not translate to king. Agong means supreme and it merely means he is the Supreme Ruler of the nine rulers, a sort of ‘first amongst equals’ situation.

I brought along two shopping bags of four copies of the Quran in Arabic, English and Bahasa Malaysia, the Salasilah or family tree of the Selangor Sultanate, and an ‘approved’ version of Selangor’s history written by Buyung Adil. I could of course have also included Joginder Singh Jessy’s, DJ Tate’s and Winsted’s versions as well, but I thought the Buyung Adil version, which is in Bahasa Malaysia, would be less strenuous on the more simple-minded.

The police informed me that my interrogation was not about my article of 11 July 2007. In fact, on 11 July 2007, I never wrote any article. I did on 8 July though and again on 13 July, but never on 11 July. According to what the newspapers reported, I was alleged to have insulted the Agong and Islam, so the purpose of the two shopping bags of books was to debate Islam and the Agong with those who were about to interrogate me. But they did not want to talk about any of my articles. They only wanted to talk about some of the comments in the blogs posted by Malaysia Today’s readers.

I told the police I refuse to talk about the comments in the blogs. I did not write these comments so I refuse to talk about what I did not write. I only want to talk about what I wrote and defend myself against charges that I have insulted the Agong and Islam. But no, the police did not want to talk about my articles. They only wanted to talk about the comments in the blogs.

I told the police I still refuse to talk about the comments and if therefore they want to charge me for sedition under the Sedition Act then go ahead. I banged the table with my fist and shouted, “Charge me! Charge me now!” The police said that they do not wish to charge me yet but only to take my statement. I can refuse to reply if I wish or reply that I do not know anything. But they have no choice but to take my statement because a police report had been made against me.

It boggles the mind that they MUST take my statement barely two days after the police report against me was made whereas they do not feel they MUST do anything on the hundreds upon hundreds of other police reports made the last ten years or so since 1998. Take, as one example, the police report made by four Umno delegates to the Kubang Pasu AGM last year alleging that they were each bribed RM200 to not vote for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Malaysia Today published copies of these police reports. One of the Umno delegates who made the police report was subsequently beaten up in his house in front of his family. He made a second police report on the beating and even fingered those who had beaten him up because he knew them personally. Again, nothing was done. So this MUST take your statement once a police report has been made against you is as truthful as I am still a virgin.

When that ex-Selangor Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name went to the Dang Wangi Police Station on Monday to lodge his police report, he did not have any details to support the allegation that Malaysia Today had insulted the Agong and Islam. He was told that the evidence to support this allegation must be attached to the police report. They then tried to get onto the internet to access Malaysia Today so that they could look for the evidence. But they did not know how to and could not find Malaysia Today.

They then enlisted the help of a journalist from one of the Chinese newspapers who was there covering the event. Through the good help of this Chinese reporter, they finally found Malaysia Today and went through the comments in the blogs to find the evidence that they needed to support the police report.

Malaysia Today was launched on 13 August 2004 and since then we have about 20,000 or so items with an estimated five million comments in the blogs. Looking for the evidence would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. We must note that at this point of time they had lodged a police report but lacked the evidence. They were now putting the cart before the horse. They now needed the evidence to support the police report.

They finally found about a dozen or so postings amongst five million that looked strong enough to prove that Malaysia Today has insulted the Agong and Islam. One was my own posting that said if you insult any race or religion then I would have no choice but to delete your posting and ban you from further posting comments in Malaysia Today. Another was by Indianputra who was appealing to Malaysia Today’s readers not to fight and argue as some people might take advantage of the squabbling and exploit it to divide the races. What we want is a peaceful country, argued Indianputra, so if we engage in a civil manner then we will be able to unite all the races. And so on and so forth. Basically, this was the evidence they were working on to prove that Malaysia Today insulted the Agong and Islam.

I asked the police whether these postings are insulting the Agong, insulting Islam, and are trying to divide the races, or whether they are actually the reverse. The face of the ASP interrogating me turned red as he tried to explain that he was just doing his job and that he was ordered to take my statement. I replied that the person who made the police report is a stupid person who can’t speak English. So what do you expect from someone like that? He can’t even understand comments that are appealing for national unity and instead interpret it as calling for racial strife.

“Do you know that that orang bodoh ran away with the Sultan’s daughter and then denied it?” I asked the police. They just smiled. “Well, I am going to reveal this to the world,” I continued. “I am going to publish the letter he wrote to the Sultan where he denied he had married the Sultan’s daughter whereas he had in fact already secretly married her in Thailand. You tengoklah. I akan balun si bodoh tu habis-habis.”

The police appeared amused at what I had to say although their only retort was, “Banyak maklumat kita dapat hari ini.”

They then wanted to know the identity of those who post comments in Malaysia Today’s blogs. I told them I do not know who they are but I do know that amongst them are 25 Umno cyber-troopers headed by Azalina and Norza.

“Azalina?” they asked.

“Yes, Azalina lesbian,” I replied.

“Oh, Azalina Othman.” Apparently they know who I meant by Azalina lesbian.

“I did not say Azalina Othman. I said Azalina lesbian. You are supposed to record everything I say the way I say it. That is what a cautioned statement under Section 112 is all about. Saya kata Azalina lesbian. Bukan Azalina Othman. You record what I say and I will sign the statement.”

The second police officer stopped typing and scratched his head with a sheepish grin on his face. “Okaylah, I don’t want you to get into any trouble. Drop the lesbian and change it to Othman.” The second officer continued typing while chuckling. He was certainly enjoying himself.

I pointed out a few IDs that belonged to the Umno cyber-troopers and the second officer recorded them down. “How do you know they are Umno cyber-troopers?” the first officer asked me.

“Because I have received information from inside Umno,” I replied.

“You have people planted in Umno?”

“Of course I do, and I bribe them to feed me information. I just slam RM1,000 onto the table and ask them to tell me everything and they sing like a canary. It is not that hard to buy information.”

The four police officers in the room smiled and shook their heads in disbelief. “Can we record this in your statement?”

“Of course you can. The reason I am telling you this is so that you can record it in my statement. I want it on record that Umno is attacking Malaysia Today with 25 cyber-troopers and they are the ones who are posting racial statements. Sometimes they even masquerade as Chinese and whack the Malays and Islam. Then other cyber-troopers would respond and whack the Chinese. The Umno cyber-troopers are the ones behind this racial and religious bashing in Malaysia Today. Then they make a police report alleging that Malaysia Today insults Islam and stirs racial sentiments.”

All this exchange was of course recorded as anything you say under Section 112 interrogation is recorded and you are made to sign the statement at the end of the interrogation. And you go to jail if you make a false statement.

At the end of the eight-hour interrogation, I asked them whether we are finished and they said yes. “Okay, now I want to make my additional statement,” I informed the police.“Of course, we will ask you before we end whether you want to add anything more to your statement. That is the procedure.”

“Okay, now I will make that statement. Malaysia Today’s domain name is registered in the UK,” I told the police. When you click on the domain name malaysia-today.net you are sent to the server of the registered IP address in that domain name. Our server is in Singapore. But what you see is only the front page. Then you choose which item on the front page you want to read and you are sent to the blog. The blog sits in the US. When you post a comment it goes straight to the blog. For all intents and purposes, Malaysia Today is a foreign website and not a Malaysian website. We therefore do not come under Malaysian laws.”

“Let me put it another way,” I told the police. “Sodomy is a crime in Malaysia and you can get sent to jail for nine years for the crime of sodomy even if you are a Deputy Prime Minister. In England, men can marry men and you will even receive a congratulatory message from the British Prime Minister. So, sodomy is not a crime in the UK and you do not go to jail.”

“In short,” I summed up. “Your Sedition Act is valid only in Malaysia and not outside Malaysia. So you cannot impose Malaysia’s Sedition Act on Malaysia Today which resides outside Malaysia. I can actually tell you to go to hell and that I will not waste eight hours answering all your questions. But I do not want you to think I am sombong so I was prepared to spend eight hours with you answering all your questions as I know you have a job to do and it is not your fault.”

I knew this officer was under tremendous pressure because every half an hour he would receive a phone call from his OCPD as well as the IGP asking about the progress of the interrogation. The top bosses were monitoring the whole situation and my interrogation was not a routine one at all. One senior Chinese officer who sat there the entire duration without opening his mouth revealed his true role when the only time he spoke was to utter the statement that I am trying to topple the IGP. That was what the police really wanted. It was payback time for the revelations of the links between the IGP and the Chinese organised crime syndicate.

Umno, however, had other motives. It was not about Malaysia Today insulting the Agong or Islam. They did not even have any evidence of this until that Chinese reporter helped them get onto the internet and access Malaysia Today’s website. What they were perturbed about is my article in my column No Holds Barred on 8 July 2007 about the powers of the Agong.

If you read Article 150 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia -- which I have reproduced below -- you can see that the Agong has the power to remove the Prime Minister if the Agong perceives the Prime Minister as totally incompetent and a danger to the economic life and well-being of Malaysians. Of course, this has never been done before except in 1969 to address the problem of the May 13 race riots. But this does mean it cannot be done, just that it has never been done or done only once in 1969.

Note the key points in Article 150 such as:
1) If the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is satisfied
2) That a grave emergency exists
3) Whereby the security, or the economic life, or public order in the Federation or any part thereof is threatened
4) He may issue a Proclamation of Emergency making therein a declaration to that effect.
5) A Proclamation of Emergency may be issued before the actual occurrence of the event which threatens the security, or the economic life, or public order in the Federation
6) Except when both Houses of Parliament are sitting concurrently
7) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is satisfied that certain circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action
8) He may promulgate such ordinances as circumstances appear to him to require.
9) The Houses of Parliament shall be regarded as sitting only if the members of each House are respectively assembled together

Now, Article 150 is very clear in that the Agong can interpret the situation as he sees it and take action that he thinks is befitting the situation. Basically, it is his opinion and only his opinion that rules and he can act based on his opinion.

When this article was first published on 8 July 2007, it sent shockwaves right through the fourth floor and right up to the fifth floor of the Prime Minister’s office in Putrajaya. They suddenly realised that if the Agong perceives the Prime Minister as incompetent and a danger to this country, then the Agong can remove the Prime Minister and appoint anyone he so wishes to replace the Prime Minister. It need not be the Deputy Prime Minister or any of the Umno leaders. In theory, it can even be the Agong’s gardener if the Agong thinks he is better than the Prime Minister and the best man to lead this country.

And that was when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi decided to quietly sneak out of the country with his entire family. They suspected that this article of 8 July 2007 was not a coincidence but was instead a hint that the Agong may act within his powers under the Federal Constitution of Malaysia to sack the Prime Minister and replace him with someone better. The Prime Minister then summoned the IGP and the Director of the Special Branch to Australia to obtain feedback as to whether he is in danger of being ousted.

Earlier, Abdullah had announced the extension of the IGP’s tenure on contract basis beyond 13 September 2007 when he is supposed to retire. Abdullah received a major blow yesterday during the Rulers’ Conference when the Rulers rejected the extension of the IGP’s tenure on grounds that they have not been prior-informed about it. That was the Rulers’ very strong message to Abdullah that they are not happy with the way he is running this country.

Abdullah is worried that Malaysia Today might be playing a role of ‘instigating’ the Rulers to sack him. They then sat down and came out with a plan to turn the Rulers against Malaysia Today by accusing Malaysia Today of insulting the Agong and Islam. They hope that by doing this the Rulers would get angry with Malaysia Today and be very grateful to Abdullah for putting Raja Petra in jail and in that same process protect and defend the image and dignity of the Rulers.

In short, Abdullah wants the Rulers to think that Malaysia Today is their enemy while the Prime Minister is their friend. So, no need to sack Abdullah. Instead, put Raja Petra in jail. And with that Abdullah and his family can continue to live happily ever after as the First Family of Malaysia.

Abdullah is due back on 27 July 2007. According to his office, he may delay his return until the first week of August. Abdullah was hoping that by the time he returns on 27 July 2007, Raja Petra would be safely tucked away behind the high walls of the Sungai Buloh Prison and he can then request an audience with the Agong to inform the Agong how he defended the image and dignity of the Agong by punishing Raja Petra for the crime of insulting the Agong and Islam.

But they sent a fool to undertake the job of assassinating Raja Petra. This ex-Selangor Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name botched the mission. Abdullah now has to rethink his strategy as well as the date of his return home. Would he still be walking in the corridors of power or would he have to stay in Australia and apply for PR status? Yes, we live in interesting times. A certain Datuk from Abdullah’s camp phoned me last night and I told this Datuk to inform his boss that Raja Petra is bent on destroying Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and ensure that all that remains of him is a pile of dust. An Uncle to the Agong phoned me two days ago and said “Bodoh betul Mat Taib!”

Round One: Raja Petra. But will I also win Round Two? I don’t know yet. We will have to wait and see. Time will of course tell. But what I do know, it is a fight to the death and I really do not care whether that will be me.

Article 150 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia
(1) If the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is satisfied that a grave emergency exists whereby the security, or the economic life, or public order in the Federation or any part thereof is threatened, he may issue a Proclamation of Emergency making therein a declaration to that effect.

(2) A Proclamation of Emergency under Clause (1) may be issued before the actual occurrence of the event which threatens the security, or the economic life, or public order in the Federation or any part thereof if the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is satisfied that there is imminent danger of the occurrence of such event.

(2A) The power conferred on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong by this Article shall include the power to issue different Proclamations on different grounds or in different circumstances, whether or not there is a Proclamation or Proclamations already issued by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong under Clause (1) and such Proclamation or Proclamations are in operation.

(2B) If at any time while a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, except when both Houses of Parliament are sitting concurrently, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is satisfied that certain circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, he may promulgate such ordinances as circumstances appear to him to require.

(2C) An ordinance promulgated under Clause (2B) shall have the same force and effect as an Act of Parliament, and shall continue in full force and effect as if it is an Act of Parliament until it is revoked or annulled under Clause (3) or until it lapses under Clause (7); and the power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to promulgate ordinances under Clause (2B) may be exercised in relation to any matter with respect to which Parliament has power to make laws regardless of the legislative or other procedures required to be followed, or the proportion of the total votes required to be had, in either House of Parliament.

(3) A Proclamation of Emergency and any ordinance promulgated under Clause (2B) shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament and, if not sooner revoked, shall cease to have effect if resolutions are passed by both Houses annulling such Proclamation or ordinance, but without prejudice to anything previously done by virtue thereof or to the power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to issue a new Proclamation under Clause (1) or promulgate any ordinance under Clause (2B).

(4) While a Proclamation of Emergency is in force the executive authority of the Federation shall, notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, extent to any matter within the legislative authority of a State and to the giving of directions to the Government of a State or to any officer or authority thereof.

(5) Subject to Clause (6A), while a Proclamation of Emergency is in force, Parliament may, not-withstanding anything in this Constitution make laws with respect to any matter, if it appears to Parliament that the law is required by reason of the emergency; and Article 79 shall not apply to a Bill for such a law or an amendment to such a Bill, nor shall any provision of this Constitution or of any written law which requires any consent or concurrence to the passing of a law or any consultation with respect thereto, or which restricts the coming into force of a law after it is passed or the presentation of a Bill to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for his assent.

(6) Subject to Clause (6A), no provision of any ordinance promulgated under this Article, and no provision of any Act of Parliament which is passed while a Proclamation of Emergency is in force and which declares that the law appears to Parliament to be required by reason of the emergency, shall be invalid on the ground of inconsistency with any provision of this Constitution.

(6A) Clause (5) shall not extend the powers of Parliament with respect to any matter of Islamic law or the custom of the Malays, or with respect to any matter of native law or custom in the State of Sabah or Sarawak; nor shall Clause (6) validate any provision inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution relating to any such matter or relating to religion, citizenship, or language.

(7) At the expiration of a period of six months beginning with the date on which a Proclamation of Emergency ceases to be in force, any ordinance promulgated in pursuance of the Proclamation and, to the extent that it could not have been validly made but for this Article any law made while the Proclamation was in force, shall cease to have effect, except as to things done or omitted to be done before the expiration of that period.

(8) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution:
(a) the satisfaction of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong mentioned in Clause (1) and Clause (2B) shall be final and conclusive and shall not be challenged or called in question in any court on any ground; and
(b) no court shall have jurisdiction to entertain or determine any application, question or proceeding, in whatever form, on any ground, regarding the validity of- (i) a Proclamation under Clauses (1) or of a declaration made in such Proclamation to the effect stated in Clause (1);
(ii) the continued operation of such Proclamation;
(iii) any ordinance promulgated under Clause (2B); or
(iv) the continuation in force of any such ordinance.

(9) For the purpose of this Article the Houses of Parliament shall be regarded as sitting only if the members of each House are respectively assembled together and carrying out the business of the House.

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