Blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin had been lying low in anticipation of being arrested under the Internal Security Act since early this week.
In an interview with the BBC on Tuesday, Raja Petra said he wanted to avoid arrest in order to continue operating his Malaysia Todaynews portal in the run-up to the possible change in government on Sept 16.
“I have to lay low to disseminate information. If they pick me up after Sept 16, I don’t care,” he said in the phone interview three days ago.
This is believed to be Raja Petra’s last known interview before he was arrested under Section 73(1) of the ISA today. He is currently being held by the police in an unknown location.
He is expected to be held under police's custody for up to 60 days before being sent to the Kamunting Detention Centre in Taiping, Perak, where ISA detainees are incarcerated.
Raja Petra said worries of an impending arrest was triggered by Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar’s warning that he could be detained under the tough security law for allegedly insulting Islam in an article he wrote in Malaysia Today.
“I was told they would probably pick up all the bloggers, at least until it is safe to release everyone again, but we need to be free because we need information to flow,” he said.
Following this, Raja Petra said he had not gone home since Sunday. He was however arrested at his home at 1.10pm today by a team of 10 police officers.
Government’s last tango ‘to silence us’
Raja Petra dismissed the government’s claim that cyber dissidents were inciting religious or racial sentiments.
“Malaysia Today has always been propagating stability and racial unity. What we are propagating is the exact opposite of what the government is saying,” he said.
He accused the government of being guilty of whipping up fear by suggesting that there would be racial riots in the event of a change in government.
“Show me one country where the government changes and people die. (This would not happen) unless those who lose power wish to do something (to cause bloodshed),” he added.
When asked whether action was being taken against him because of his role in publishing allegations linking Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife to a high-profile murder case, he said: “I think it’s not just that.”
“Over the last four years, Malaysia Today had been a real pain... The government has tried all sort of things (to stop us) - arrest, harrasment, confiscation of computers, criminal charges and civil suits.
“They find that we do not let up and continue. I suppose the government is going for its last attempt, its last tango, to silence us.”