Controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin was arrested today under the Internal Security Act for allegedly being a threat to security, peace and public order.
According to Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, the 58-year old father of five would be detained under Section 73(1) of the ISA, which allows for detention of up to 60 days.
“The police will do an assessment during this period and if they feel he should be held more than 60 days, the police will then refer to me,” Syed Hamid was quoted as saying by The Star.
The minister also confirmed that the Sin Chew Daily, The Sun andSuara Keadilan were issued show cause letters. "They have been given a week to reply," he added.
Raja Petra's wife Marina Lee Abdullah (right) earlier toldMalaysiakini that 10 police personnel from Bukit Aman came to their home in Sungai Buloh at about 1.10pm to arrest him.
When Malaysiakinicontacted her at 1.25pm, the police personnel were still there. However, Raja Petra - popularly known by his initials RPK - was taken away to an unknown destination at 1.50pm. The police also confiscated some books and VCDs.
On Sept 6, Syed Hamid had warned that RPK, who edits the popular news portal Malaysia Today, could be charged under the ISA for comments allegedly insulting Islam and Prophet Muhammad.
The minister said several religious groups - Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (Yadim), Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council (Maiwp) and Federal Territory Religious Department (Jawi) - had lodged police reports against him.
The groups had complained Raja Petra's comment in an article entitled 'I promise to be a good, non-hypocritical Muslim' allegedly used sentences that insulted Muslims.
The government ordered the blocking of the Malaysia Todaywebsite two weeks ago, but the ban was lifted yesterday.
The ban together with Syed Hamid's warning to invoke the ISA had sparked a public furore against government censorship of the Internet.
Opposition parties too accused Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's administration of attempting to gag the press in a bid to salvage his party's sinking popularity.
Second time under ISA
Raja Petra is also alleged to have allowed comments to appear on his website that degraded Islam and Prophet Muhammad in an article entitled "Not all Arabs are descendants of the Prophet".
This is the second time that RPK, a member of the Selangor royal family, has been detained under ISA, which allows for indefinite detention without trial.
His first arrest under the tough security law was on April 10, 2001. RPK was detained as part of a crackdown against reformasi activists in which nine others were also held.
At that time, he was webmaster for the now defunct FreeAnwar.com site.
Raja Petra was subsequently released after 53 days in detention. However, six of the reformasi leaders were eventually sent to the Kamunting Detention Centre in Taiping where they were detained for two years.
Charged earlier for sedition, defamation
The controversial blogger was earlier charged with sedition and defamation after linking Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife to the sensational murder of a Mongolian woman.
In that case, a close friend of the deputy premier - Abdul Razak Baginda - was charged with abetting the murder of 28-year-old Altantuya Shaariibuu, whose body was blown up with explosives.
Two police officers from an elite force, whose duties included guarding the prime minister and Najib, were also charged with the killing.
The ISA, which human rights groups have pushed to have abolished, provides for renewable two-year periods of detention without trial and is normally used against suspected terrorists.
It has also been used to lock up opponents of the government, and last year five Hindraf leaders were detained three weeks after mounting a mammoth rally in the streets of Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25.
A number of activists, including prominent fellow bloggers, were seen visiting Raja Petra's house this afternoon. Among them were lawyer Haris Ibrahim and Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu. (photo above)