Press Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on Friday, 7th November 2008:

Syed Hamid Albar should resign for misusing power

I applaud the decision by the Shah Alam High Court to immediately release prominent blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin. But more importantly, judge Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad had ruled that the detention under the Internal Security Act or ISA was illegal and unconstitutional.

I received this great piece of news as I was chairing the Parliamentary Roundtable on the amendment to the University and University Colleges Act at Parliament involving academics, student bodies, Bar Council, and members of parliament.

Another point to note is that, according to the judge, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar had not followed proper procedure when issuing the detention order against Raja Petra.

This is disturbing as it aptly describes the high handedness of the minister and his total disregard for the rule of law. It, once again, brings to the surface nagging doubts that the detention was to frustrate Raja Petra for his blog postings.

I therefore urge Syed Hamid to take responsibility for not following proper procedure in issuing the detention order and resign immediately for misusing his ministerial power.

Raja Petra's blog, Malaysia Today, was one of the primary sources of information for the public who had lost faith in the news reports carried by the controlled local media.

His sensational articles linking deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to corruption amounting to billions of dollars and the murder of a Mongolian woman shifted the ground reality for ruling UMNO. Malaysians and Barisan Nasional supporters voted for the opposition, delivering a severe blow to the ruling government at the March general election.

Although we are happy with the release of Raja Petra who has paid heavily for his candid remarks and bold writing, our struggle must not stop here.

The ISA must be repealed as it violates the very grains of democracy. The pre-independence relic denies detainees the right to legal representation and also allows for indefinite detention.

In Malaysia, it is primarily used to thwart any opposition to the ruling government and silence the voice of dissidents like Raja Petra.

We are witnessing historic changes in the political platforms around the world. The victory of US President-elect Barack Obama has renewed the hope, of millions, for change.

Malaysia is also gearing up for a change in leadership. Let us take this opportunity to make the right decisions that could initiate change and reforms in the administration of the country.

I, therefore, once again strongly appeal to the government to abolish the Internal Security Act, release the Hindraf Five and all other ISA prisoners.

* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang