Change has come to Malaysia!

by Martin Jalleh
(MJ from the Shah Alam Court )

It was a very moving moment in time – one which your memory will forever hold and behold. I had thought that we only get to see this in a Disney movie. But it was happening right in a courtroom in Bolehland today (7 Nov. 2008).

The packed courtroom of Raja Petra (RPK) supporters could not contain their joy. They clapped and burst out into cries of excitement and elation even before Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad could finish delivering his judgment.

They were gently reprimanded by the judge that they were in a Court of Law. But for some it was impossible to be silent. You can’t be restrained when it is such a great and glorious victory! And so they whispered: “We have won! We have won! RPK is free!”

The judge ruled that the detention of RPK under the ISA was illegal (unconstitutional) and ordered his immediate release. The court found the (Home) minister had not followed proper procedure under Section 8 of the ISA.

As the judge left for his chambers, everyone sprung up…some with their clenched fists raised high in the air – speechless. Others grabbed the nearest person available to express their elation whether it be a stranger, supporter or Special Branch.

“Yes, yes, yes!” proclaimed Angela from Seremban who has attended every RPK-related court case with her son. Yes, justice is done; yes, the truth always wins; yes, let us continue the good fight!

“God bless the judge…What a brave judge! I hope nothing will happen to him and they won’t transfer him elsewhere…” a man who identified himself as Lim declared to his friends.

A visibly moved Ignatius Gomez, who was present with his wife and daughter to “lend our voices and presence to any movement that works towards the abolishment of the ‘barbaric’ ISA” proclaimed loudly: “Justice has prevailed!”

A Brave woman

Marina was moved to tears. She hugged their two daughters, Suraya and Sarah – who have been her sturdy support and who have kept a very brave smile for their mother in the long struggle for their father’s freedom.

Without any hesitation Marina reached out next in deep appreciation to RPK’s lawyers – a team of young, dedicated, daring, diligent and determined attorneys who, time and again, won the admiration and acknowledgement of everyone. Lead lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar’s brilliance and humility in court will remain etched in the memory of many.

In fact, the team, together with other lawyers who had come to show their support, adorned in their court attire, and in all their distinguished shapes and sizes, abandoned their stoic and sage-like disposition and spontaneously hugged each other. Alas, lawyers are human too!

Some of the supporters sat still and smiled to themselves. It was a judgment they found too difficult to believe! Or they wanted to relish the moment and watched, enthralled by the unreserved show of emotion of the rest.

The doors of the courtroom swung open. Marina came out of the court and as the sea of people stood behind, she thanked each and everyone who had played an unique and vital role to get her husband free.

Surely each person, for having stood up for justice, served as a tiny “ripple”, that when put together, made up that giant wave of change that no person (definitely not the Home Minister) nor the powers that be could stop.

Fighting back the tears Marina said: “Though I was hopeful I had not expected the decision. This is a very good sign that our country is changing and I hope that this change will continue…”

“I want to thank the lawyers, the supporters, the bloggers, the reporters…I am so overwhelmed by the decision that I am short of words….Thanks to the judge for his very courageous decision.”

The “celebration” continued on in the court’s foyer. It was only the beginning. The judge had ordered that RPK be brought (from Kamunting) before the court by 4pm, after which he would be released.

Free at last!

It was time for lunch, but none seemed hungry anymore. I followed a group of RPK supporters many of whom I was meeting for the first time. Robert Choo, a retired college lecturer told everyone: “Lunch is on me. Order anything you want. Very rarely do we get such a brave judgment!”

The diversity was amazing. It was a multi-racial group with ages ranging from 16 to 60 years. We were all middle-class. Except for the self-employed, the rest had to take leave to be in court. The group was predominantly women…very vocal ones too!

As I listened intently I realized the conversation was different from the usual. It was not centred on our obsession with food. They spoke about the candlelight vigils in Seremban, PJ and Ipoh . They shared their fears that RPK would be rearrested and what they could do to prevent it!

What made them want to attend the court case? What motivated them to take the risk? Why did they want to exchange a very comfortable and consumeristic existence for an involvement that is often thankless and even looked upon by the majority as being “stupid”?

It was much more than just giving support to RPK. They were angry with the arrogance and abuse of the BN government. They were fed up of being treated like kids and of a government trying to fool all the people all the time.

They expressed their disgust over desperate politicians playing the religious and racial card and gambling the country away. They looked forward to a new government of integrity, credibility and accountability.

They felt that it was time to take a stand, to say and do something, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant…like just by being present in court – even though at times they found it hard to comprehend what was going on!

They realized they were not alone…and their growing solidarity has helped them to soldier on. They spoke of their proud association with Harris Ibrahim, Bernard Khoo and a host of frontline exemplary leaders. They saw in each other a comrade for justice and they displayed an obvious synergy that has freed them from the culture of fear.

Finally, the moment came – the man of the hour appeared…looking tired and even in a daze, still stunned by the court’s decision. As soon as he left the warm embrace of his wife and children, his supporters mobbed and moved him all the way into the courtroom!

Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy ordered RPK to be released. He thanked the lawyers of both sides for their professionalism. The crowd stood in deep respect and reverence as the brave judge left the courtroom.

They garlanded their hero. There was another round of hugs. Some looked up to the heavens in prayerful thanksgiving. Tears flowed freely in celebration of the freedom of one who cared and dared enough to write so that others may be free.

Raja Petra looked as though he was “holding court” on the front steps of the Shah Alam Court. No fetters could extinguish the fire and fervour in the man. It fact, it had fanned the flame in him: “”We have to fight all-out and get the ISA abolished!”

The peerless Patriot and Prince was fittingly driven away in a red Rolls Royce. As his supporters parted, it was obvious that they were not going to rest on their laurels. They were already talking of meeting in the candlelight vigils in Seremban and PJ.

It was truly a historic day of hugs, heart and hope. In contrast to the cavalier attitude of Syed Hamid in the recent ISA arrests, there was the calibre and courage of Syed Ahmad Helmy, a glimmer of hope in the judiciary.

Compared to the arrogance of the Umno-dominated government which believes that might is right, there was the humility of ordinary citizens who achieved the extraordinary in their multi-racial solidarity!

The Home Minister wants to appeal the judge’s decision – which he claims he respects! We understand. Umno’s internal security is threatened and it is rapidly losing its appeal. Further Syed Hamid wants to be very “appealing”, he is standing in the coming Umno elections.

Former de facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim has said that Umno cannot change. And as can be seen from last night’s Anti-ISA gathering when the “uncivilized” police ran riot in the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre, the Police cannot change. They will continue to be arrogant.

Our hope for change lies in the rakyat. The people’s involvement in the process that resulted in RPK being free confirms this.

(10 Nov. 2008)

  1. #1 by disapointed86 on Monday, 10 November 2008 - 5:21 pm

    GOD Bless RPK…not forgetting judge Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad for the brave judgement in this fully respect to him..
    To be honest, i was so surprise that the outcome of the court proceeding and somehow it sheds light to the Reform of Malaysia..maybe Malaysia is not hopeless after all, at least there are some portion of Malaysian are hoping for a what the topic sounded, Change has come to Malaysia.. God Bless Malaysia..

  2. #2 by vchi on Monday, 10 November 2008 - 5:22 pm

    Wow. Stunning as usual from MJ.

    Lets just hope there will be no manipulation or perversion of justice. Lets hope RPK does not get rearrested!

  3. #3 by k1980 on Monday, 10 November 2008 - 5:26 pm

    Change has come? There can be no change as long as BN remains in power. The only change we can see is the spare change in our pockets getting less and less.

  4. #4 by Godfather on Monday, 10 November 2008 - 5:37 pm

    MJ is getting carried away. Change has come ? Nah, a swallow does not a summer make. The thieves are still firmly in control and eyeing ways and means to dip their fingers into the public purse.

  5. #5 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Monday, 10 November 2008 - 5:55 pm

    Change has come to Malaysia!

    Not new really. It’s been happening over the past 3 decades.

    The politicos and cronies get all the billions and millions.

    When it trickle down to the men on the street – change is all they got – loose change, that is.

  6. #6 by PeoplesMan on Monday, 10 November 2008 - 7:45 pm

    Welcome back RPK…..
    We are happy for you and we are always happy to have you here…
    For the phrase “Change Has Come To Malaysia”, i dont fully agree because we are still miles far away from acheiving it but still it is not very far away…
    Time will prove it…..and so do we…

  7. #7 by One4All4One on Monday, 10 November 2008 - 8:03 pm

    A little step by RPK, a giant leap for the people…that’s what the change is all about.

    That accolade should also go to the brave, sincere, credible, impartial and clear-minded Malaysian in Mr. Zaid Ibrahim, who despite great resistance and affront from his very own party people, kept on enlightening the public on matters which are important to them.

    It is acts by such people, that the masses gained the necessary strength and insights into issues which have significant repercussions on the progress and direction of the nation’s growth.

    They along with other determined and impartial characters and personalities hold the key to the future. Let’s give them all our undivided support and encouragements.

    That’s the change that they have wrought and made possible…

    Good luck Malaysia.

  8. #8 by One4All4One on Monday, 10 November 2008 - 8:18 pm

    If the detention of RPK under the ISA was illegal, as deemed by the judge, why is it that no action had been taken against the parties (persons) who initiated and signed for the arrest to be effected?

    Justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done.

  9. #9 by Johnny Cheah on Monday, 10 November 2008 - 9:44 pm

    Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy should be commended for his just decision. Our hope is that we have more men and women in the judiciary who are of his calibre. Let’s hope that nothing happens to him

  10. #10 by zak_hammaad on Monday, 10 November 2008 - 10:26 pm

    I, like many others would have liked RPK to have done the initial 2 years of the internment, but I hope that the government is able to successfully appeal the court’s decision and have the bigot RPK back inside. This ruling also shows that the courts are indeed independent and rarely (if at all) influenced by Putrajaya.

    It is neither the dictate of the opposition to ask the government to accept the court’s decision and not appeal!

  11. #11 by rider on Monday, 10 November 2008 - 10:37 pm

    A new government of integrity, credibility and accountability, yes that’s what we want for our children! And God won’t say no. It was God’s victory, the just minded people’s victory, RPK’s victory and the brave learned judge’s victory, Amen.

  12. #12 by frankyapp on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 1:05 am

    Martin Jalleh,I rejoy with you and many of you guys but be rest assured,it’s doing to be short lived.Remember,SHA is appealing the case of RPK and is now desperately arresting several BERISH members and supporters.As long as Umno/BN is in power,any change is a short change without a shadow of doubt. Judge Syed Ahmad is our hero but I ‘m afraid,in a short time,he will be coldstorage.Just mark my word and you guys will know what it means.Go ahead,be happy, have joy and spread this good news about RPK release as time is limited.

  13. #13 by undergrad2 on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 7:09 am

    “Our hope for change lies in the rakyat. The people’s involvement in the process that resulted in RPK being free confirms this.’

    Naaah! It is just one judge earning his salary the only way he has been employed to do.

  14. #14 by mjalleh on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 11:30 am

    Friends, thanks for the iteresting feedback. I had quite clearly mentioned that change will not come about in and through the government or Umno and definitely not the police!

    But the gist of my article was to show that there is difinitely a change — in the people — more people are speaking up, standing up and risking their comfortable middle-class existence to be involved in the political and social process.

    True, a swallow does not a summer make. But when each of us believe that we are important enough, and that we can make a difference — we become a ripple of hope that in solidarity and synergy transforms into a wave of change — we saw this in the tsunami of March 2008 and I saw this for myself during the RPK’s court case!

    If I did not believe in the “power of one” I would not have started writing :)


    True, IThanks Joy for the feedback.

    I had quite clearly mentioned that change will not come about in and through the government, not Umno and definitely not the police!

    But the gist of my article was to show that there is difinitely a change in the people — more people are speaking up, standing up and risking their comfortable middle-class existence to join the wave of change. I believe in the power of one — or I would not be writing!

  15. #15 by mjalleh on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 11:33 am

    Sorry, pl delete/omit/ignore message after

  16. #16 by k1980 on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 5:30 pm

    Change has indeed come to this country. The rakyat have to take second jobs, tighten their belts and change their lifestyles. And their take-home pay has decreased drastically, their life has changed for the worse

  17. #17 by One4All4One on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 11:49 pm

    zak hamaad,

    Though everyone of us is entitled to our own opinion, I must say that a lot of us wonder what is happening in your upper-storey?
    Do you see yourself as being anti-social?

    Or you are aligned to certain party for good?

    Whichever way, we definitely view your comments with deep reservations.

    This is the 21st century my dear friend. New era calls for new approaches. Let’s not be cooked in the squat.

  18. #18 by Godfather on Wednesday, 12 November 2008 - 11:35 am

    Who is the tokoh Malaysia that Zak Hammaad supports ? The Mamakthir, of course ! He is one of those who write on with the words “you are my hero”, “ayahanda yang saya kasihi”, “you are the best”, and “please say you’ll be back”.

    If Zak Hammaad the foreigner has his way, not only RPK would go to Kamunting. Anwar and Badawi would have to share the same cell in Kamunting…..

  19. #19 by ktteokt on Saturday, 15 November 2008 - 9:09 pm

    Expect Malaysia to change? Expect these NUTS to change? Wait around till the sun rises in the Straits of Malacca! Only then will Malaysia really change!

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