PM and RPK hit Canberra tomorrow

By K. C. Boey, The Malaysian Insider

MELBOURNE, March 1 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin will hit Canberra tomorrow in a curious coincidence of scheduling. It’s the closest the prime minister and blog activist will get to each other in a while but it is not likely they will meet.

Raja Petra told The Malaysian Insider yesterday that he had not had a response to an offer that he had made to Najib to return to Malaysia to answer any charges against him if the prime minister could guarantee that he would not be placed under detention without trial under the ISA.

Raja Petra, in self-exile in London, had in July last year issued the conditional offer to Najib.

He reiterated that he would not return to Malaysia without such a guarantee. “I don’t plan to return to be ambushed,” the Malaysia Today blogger popularly known as RPK told The Malaysian Insider from Sydney, where he was preparing the first of his public engagements in three cities to promote the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM), of which he is chairman.

Raja Petra will open with a public lecture at the Australian National University tomorrow on “Beating Malaysian Authoritarianism with People Power: A Blog Activist’s Tale.”

As he is delivering his lecture, the prime minister will be flying in for a six-day official visit to Australia.

To the observation that it was a curious coincidence, Raja Petra said his visit to Australia had been planned since September, and his tickets booked. “Does the prime minister plan that far ahead?” he wondered. “If anything, I would say he was following me.”

Both Raja Petra and Najib will have engagements in the Australian capital territory tomorrow and on Thursday. Raja Petra will have meetings with a number of Australian politicians. Among them will be Michael Danby, a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

Danby, as chairman of the committee in February last year, had delivered to the Malaysian High Commissioner to Australia Datuk Salman Ahmad a petition signed by more than 50 Australian MPs demanding that the Malaysian judiciary drop charges of sodomy against de facto opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Tomorrow, Friends of Malaysia, Singapore & Australia will hold a fundraiser for the MCLM, which is working towards fielding candidates as a “third force” at the next general election.

The group in its poster suggests minimum individual donations of A$25 (RM78) for the opportunity to meet “RPK large as life and several times as natural.”