A new legal wrangle might join the criminal defamation charges and defamation law suits sitting on the doorstep of Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK). Newspapers reported recently that the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) and other Muslim bodies had lodged a police report against him for allegedly insulting the Malays, Muslims and Islam.
The articles in question, “I promise to be a good, non-hypocritical Muslim” and “Not all Arabs are descendants of the Prophet”, are found on his now-blocked website, “Malaysia Today” (for mirror site, click here).
Jakim's director-general, Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz, was reported to have said, “The articles were also prejudicial and appeared to be reflective of the voice of a third party who had no understanding of Islam and similar to the western media's approach.”
Others organisations which lodged reports against RPK were the Federal Territory Religious Department, Islamic Da’ Wah Foundation Malaysia and Federal Territory Islamic Council.
In response, RPK was reported to have said, “I couldn't be bothered anymore if they call me anti-Islam, anti-Malay, anti-Umno… they can call me anti-God, if they want,”
While some claim that some cabinet members were shocked when they read the articles in question, some commenters on Malaysia Today seem to be of the opinion that the articles in question were not directed at the muslim population in general, but to a specific few.
In August this year, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, was reported to have said that the government was duty-bound to preempt action jeopardizing the nation's stability. He was quoted as saying, “In this country, it’s all about perception… Then nobody’s going to get angry. It’s not that you can’t discuss, but sensitive things, it’s better behind closed doors rather than openly,”
The past year has seen several defamation cases against, and sedition and criminal defamation investigations into, bloggers and Malaysian netizens. Investigations into these new police reports against RPK could lead to his detention without trial under Malaysia's Internal Security Act 1962 (English / Bahasa Malaysia). Meanwhile, racial and religious resentment seems to be brewing in the nation.
It comes with little surprise that Malaysia's ranking with in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index has dropped from 92nd place in 2006 to 124th place in 2007. A recent survey by the Centre for Independent Journalism and the Merdeka Center found 87% of Malaysians polled desiring greater media independence. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Credit Suisse has warned investors to stay away from Malaysia in her current climate.