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Charter 2000-Aliran is appalled by the Malaysian authorities' action in charging prominent blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin with sedition for allegedly implying that deputy prime minister Najib Razak was involved in the sensational killing of a young Mongolian woman.

The sedition charge stems from a April 25 article entitled ‘Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell’ that Raja Petra posted on his popular ‘Malaysia Today’ website.

We, like many other concerned Malaysians, are shocked that such a sedition charged has been used against Raja Petra as opposed to a more appropriate action that could have been taken by the aggrieved party (i.e. Najib and wife), which is to sue Raja Petra for supposed defamation.

Raja Petra now sits in remand in Sungai Buloh Prison after refusing bail, and he will remain there until Oct 6 when his trial begins. If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to three years and/or face a fine of up to RM5,000.

Under the Sedition Act, a ‘seditious tendency’ implies, among other things, ‘a tendency to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any ruler or against any government’. Are we to conclude that alleging complicity in a murder case on the part of a government leader is tantamount to causing the Malaysian public to go against the entire (federal) government? Would one supposedly rotten apple spoil the whole tree?

The authorities’ action only raises more questions. It raises suspicion that it is meant not only to politically bludgeon Raja Petra but also to make an example of him for the rest of the blogging fraternity and civil society.

Many Malaysians are clearly not impressed with the latest turn of events. In a sense, it reveals just how out of touch the authorities are with the new political realities after March 8 especially in dealing with an electorate that now demands greater respect for freedom of the media and of expression.

The writers are coordinators, Charter 2000- Aliran .