LONDON, May 23 — Fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin has thrown down the gauntlet to Malaysian authorities, challenging them to bring standing charges against him to the courts in the United Kingdom.
Swaggering into a packed hall in the UK capital yesterday and flanked by two burly men in dark glasses, the controversial Malaysia Today writer insisted that he would fight charges of criminal defamation and sedition as well as the appeal against his Internal Security Act (ISA) detention, given a level playing field.
“I will take on the government and I will fight them but I will do what Sun Tzu said, ‘Fight him in your territory.’
“So my territory is here in the UK,” he declared to applause from a largely partisan crowd of over 300, who had their bags searched before entering the hall at the BPP Law School.
Many had to stand for the two-hour talk by the blogger, who repeated what he had written over the years, in his first formal appearance after over a year in self-imposed exile.
Raja Petra wore his now signature beret and immediately refuted the notion that he should return home to prove his innocence of the charges levelled against him.
“A first year law student can tell you that it is not the job of the accused to prove his innocence. It is the job of the prosecution to prove guilt.
“There is the UK court here. There need not be phone call or phone call from someone’s wife,” he said in a thinly-veiled jibe against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, whom he has previously accused of interfering with institutions such as the judiciary.
Despite calls from various BN lawmakers to bring Raja Petra to justice, the government has so far not followed up on suggestions that they apply to extradite the runaway blogger who has made many claims, including the involvement of Najib and Rosmah in scandals such as the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shariibuu.
Police have said they were looking into reports that he was seen in several countries, including the UK and Australia, after he absconded but have not reported any success.
Raja Petra, widely known by his initials RPK, also explained that Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is facing a sodomy charge which Pakatan Rakyat insists is trumped up, was in a different boat.
“Anwar has accepted the fact that he has to stay (in Malaysia) as he aspires to be the next prime minister. I have no political aspirations.
“I’ll probably be a free man longer than Anwar,” he quipped.
The member of the Selangor royal family referred to several incidences in his previous brushes with the law to back his claim that the Malaysian judiciary was not independent.
He questioned why the Federal Court had yet to decide on the government’s appeal against his release from the ISA, after more than a year.
He also said that he had tried to obtain a full bench of nine judges and “thought that maybe we will get seven but we ended up with just three.”
“We were told it was an administrative decision but nobody told us who made the decision or who were the judges until the day of the hearing.
“On the morning of the hearing, we found that one of them was Augustine Paul,” Raja Petra said, repeating what he had written about the hearing.
The late judge had in 2001 denied a habeas corpus application by Raja Petra to declare his first ISA detention illegal. Raja Petra had also written numerous articles criticising the judge who had also presided over Anwar’s first sodomy trial, which saw the sacked deputy prime minister being jailed for six years.
“I’ve written a lot of nasty things about him and called him all sorts of names. Even I would cite myself for contempt of court! How will he give me a fair trial?” Raja Petra said.