If you had to argue your case

Your Honour, I am no prophet. I can’t claim to be guided by God, at least not in the way the Prophets of old were. But what have we learned from the examples of the Prophets? Basically, what we have learned is we must not be afraid of challenging the system and not to fear reforms. To do that, we must speak out, debate and enter into discourse.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Malaysia’s Internal Security Act allows the government to detain you without trial indefinitely. The initial detention is not more than 60 days during which time they will decide whether you can be released or should be further detained in the Kamunting Detention Centre.

If you are further detained in Kamunting, within three months of your detention you will appear before the Lembaga Penasihat (Review Board), which will review your case and decide whether to prolong your detention or allow you to go home. These review proceedings will give you the opportunity to attempt to convince the Lembaga that your detention is not justified and that they should release you.

You can either argue your case yourself or you can get a lawyer to do it for you. This is what I would probably say during the review proceedings had I been given an opportunity to argue my own case.


Your Honour, first of all I thank you for the opportunity offered me to try to convince you why I should be released and allowed to go home. I realise that, normally, detainees would arrange for a lawyer or a team of lawyers to argue their case and that the proceedings are conducted in the same way as in a court of law.

Nevertheless, I would like to dispense with the services of a lawyer and argue my case myself. I hope you will bear with me and hear me out and allow me to take you through the issues as to why this Lembaga should consider releasing me and allow me to go home.

Your Honour, if you were to peruse my Detention Order, you will see that the four grounds of my detention, as stated in that Detention Order, is for speaking out or for expressing myself. I know the grounds of my detention have been explained in great detail and with a lot of legal jargon that would probably confuse even lawyers themselves. However, putting that aside, and as the Americans would say, cutting to the chase, the long and short of it is, simply, I am too vocal.

Your Honour, whether, as what the Honourable Minister said, I am a threat to national security is a matter of opinion. As they say, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. George Washington was a terrorist and was treated as such by the British Colonialists. If they had caught him, they would have put him to death. Today, Washington is the name of the capital of the most powerful nation in the world.

I agree wholeheartedly that the pen is mightier than the sword. If I had carried a sword and had threatened bodily harm then certainly that would make me a threat to life and limb and therefore a threat to national security and public order. But my crime is merely for using the pen, in this case a computer keyboard, and as much as the pen may be mightier than a sword, metaphorically speaking, using a pen is not the same as threatening someone with a sword.

What would humanity be today if freedom of expression had not been allowed? And that is my only crime, being too free with my expression.

Buddha, a Hindu prince, lived a protected life and knew nothing about death, sickness, poverty, etc. until he was exposed to the world. That exposure opened his eyes to the suffering, injustice and evil of the world around him that he had been protected from.

Eventually, Buddha became disillusioned and sought enlightenment. Through enlightenment, Buddha saw the truth and brought reforms to the world. Had the powers-that-be tried to stifle Buddha and prevented him from seeking enlightenment, Buddhism would not exist today.

Was Buddha a terrorist? Was he considered a threat to Hinduism? If they had declared Buddha a threat to society and had put him to death we would never have known Buddha or Buddhism, which teaches love, kindness and peace and is not violent even to animals.

What was Buddha’s crime if you want to consider him as having committed one? His crime is he was different. He was a seeker. He was what today we would call a reformist.

Because of Buddha, that part of the world could see reforms while the rest of the world, even Europe, was steeped in superstition and ignorance. Europe was locked in what we would call the dark ages while Buddha brought enlightenment because they allowed him to do what he did. They did not lock him away under detention without trial.

Your Honour, as a Muslim just like me, you too must be very familiar with the history of our Prophet Muhammad. Muhammad too was a reformist. For ten years he preached reforms but the people of Mekah rejected him. In fact, they plotted against him and schemed his death.

Did God abandon Muhammad to his fate? No! God commanded Muhammad to leave Mekah and to seek asylum in the safety of Medina. Yes, God refused to allow them to silence him. God wanted Muhammad to continue spreading his message of reforms. Today, even the non-Muslim western world regards Muhammad as the greatest reformist in history.

It took more than 1,500 years for the western world to fully understand Christianity and to comprehend the teachings of Christ. For more than 1,000 years the Christian world remained in ignorance mainly because no debate and discourse was allowed. Debates and discourse was punishable by death.

It was not until they revolted against this that the Christian world progressed and discarded their superstitious and ignorant ways. Again, it was not until the reformists rose up and demanded change did the world become a better place and the killings in the name of religion end.

So you see, Your Honour, for thousands of years reformists have fought against impossible odds and won. As a result, we now live in a better and more progressive world.

Your Honour, I am not prophet. I can’t claim to be guided by God, at least not in the way the Prophets of old were. But what have we learned from the examples of the Prophets? Basically, what we have learned is we must not be afraid of challenging the system and not to fear reforms. To do that, we must speak out, debate and enter into discourse.

Your Honour, my crime, if you can even consider it a crime, is that I have challenged the system and have spoken out. And for that I am now in Kamunting under ISA detention. How can speaking out be a crime? How can we see reforms and changes if we do not speak out?

I am here in Kamunting because I am considered a threat to national security. Galileo Galilee too was considered a threat to national security. But because of his links to the Duke they did not dare put him to death. Instead they excommunicated him and placed him under house arrest.

And what was Galileo’s crime? His crime is he declared that the sun does move around the earth but instead the earth moves around the sun. And that declaration, to the powers-that-be at that time, was a crime and a threat to national security. Would we still insist today that Galileo is a criminal and a threat to national security?

So you see, Your Honour, the world will never progress if we jail or put to death everyone who challenges the system and tries to preach reforms — as long as they don’t preach death and destruction, which neither I nor Galileo have done.

I may be overzealous in expressing myself. That may be my fault. But Martin Luther was as well when he challenged the church that resulted in reforms, as was Martin Luther King. Because of his work and other social changes, the first African-American President is now serving America.

Your Honour, the Honourable Minister has declared me a threat to national security based on his standards and interpretation. Can one man make this sole decision on behalf of 28 million Malaysians? Does his view reflect that of the majority of Malaysians?

Your Honour, the Honourable Minister himself was once a reformer who challenged the system. Then, the government viewed him as a threat to national security as well. And although he was never detained under the ISA, he was, however, punished by being sent into the political wilderness where he lingered for quite some time.

Then, the Honourable Minister justified his actions for challenging the system as the need to introduce reforms to the country. The Honourable Minister himself was a reformist and he too opposed the system and he too was punished for this. I would imagine that the Minister still holds these ideals close to his heart. Why would the Minister now take offense to what he himself once did?

Your Honour, I remember the time when the Honourable Minister was outside the government and he and I opposed the system and challenged the system and fought to bring reforms to system. Then, he too was a firebrand and did not fear going against what he considered was wrong.

Today, he is in the government and I am still outside the government. And, today, he signs my Detention Order and detains me without trial for doing nothing short of what he once did himself — expressing the need for reforms.

Your Honour, instead of I appearing before this Lembaga to try to convince you why I should be released, the Honourable Minister should be made to appear before this Lembaga to explain why he sees the need for my further detention and in what way my actions of expressing myself can be construed as a threat to national security.

Your Honour, I have nothing further to say. I just pray that this Lembaga sees the logic of my arguments and can accept that the world needs reformers. If there had not been any reformers then the world would not be the progressive world that we see today.

Thank you, Your Honour.