NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin a.k.a. Pink Panther
What do you do when you chase a prey for two years and it is so fast on its feet and so elusive that you can’t get within ten feet of it? Well, you make it chase you instead. I mean, you can’t keep chasing your prey for the rest of your life in a never-ending story or else you will end up like the Coyote in that cartoon programme which has been chasing the Road Runner since I was a toddler and has still not caught it 50 years on.
But you have to be careful, though. While you want the tables turned so that the hunted now becomes the hunter, and vice versa, you have to make sure that your prey starts chasing you but does not actually catch you. And there must be an endgame to this whole thing. You do not want the chase to be just for chase-sake. There must be a trap that you lead your prey into -- who is now the hunter -- so that the chase ends with your prey-turned-hunter snared well and good.
And that is exactly what my trials are all about -- both the Sedition Act and Criminal Defamation trials. They are about making my prey transform into the hunter while I, who used to be the hunter, now becomes its ‘prey’. Then I run, with them chasing me instead. Whether they can catch me in the end is immaterial and a risk I have to take. But the fact that they are chasing me means they will have to leave no stone unturned in their attempt to catch me. And that is really what I want them to do so that we can take a peep under that stone and see the udang sebalik batu, as the Malays would say.
Thus far, the Sedition Act trial has been most enlightening. My Criminal Defamation trial has not started yet as we are still arguing as to which court is empowered to hear the case. And with the many appeals on this one issue still on the cards, that means it will be some time before we even come to the actual trial date.
Yesterday was the closing of this week’s session and the next session has been scheduled for the 23rd and 24th April 2009. The two days of hearing this week was just the cross-examination of Superintendent Gan Tack Guan. We are far from finished with Gan so we expect the April session to still focus on him. Even then we are not sure whether those two days in April will be enough to complete his cross-examination because Gan is so slow and evasive that it takes two hours just to get him to reply to one question, as Gobind Singh Deo said yesterday.
Gan was the Investigating Officer in the Altantuya murder investigation. And, since he made the police report against me, that means he is also the complainant in my Sedition Act trial. That was a stroke of luck for us, and the first booboo they made. He should not have been given the task of making that police report against me since he was also the Investigating Officer in the Altantuya murder investigation. But I suppose they thought he was the best person to make the police report against me since he was the Investigation Officer in the Altantuya murder investigation and therefore would be the one with the locus standi.
This, however, exposes them to another problem. Granted, he has locus standi, since he was the Investigating Officer in the Altantuya murder investigation. But this also means he has first-hand knowledge of the investigation and would therefore be able to answer in great detail what transpired during the investigation. And this was when they realised their mistake.
Gan, however, refused to answer all the questions posed by Gobind. In the beginning, he proudly claimed he was the Investigating Officer in the murder investigation. When he realised this means he must now tell the court in detail everything about the investigation, he changed his story and said that he was just the supervisor of the investigating team and that other officers had done the actual investigation. He is now trying to give the impression he is not that knowledgeable about the investigation after all since he did not do the actual investigation. He just supervised a team of other investigators and, therefore, he does not know so much.
Gan is a Superintendant of Police with 30 years experience in the force and now attached to Interpol. But he wants the court to believe he is not too clear about the details of the Altantuya murder investigation -- an investigation that he led. And he kept repeating, “I can’t remember”, “I am not able to reply”, “I don’t know how to reply”, and so on, to every question, even when directed to do so by the Judge.
At one point, the Prosecution tried to stop the cross-examination by telling the court that the truth of the matter is not material to the charge. In other words, it does not matter whether I told the truth or I lied in that article I am alleged to have published -- ‘Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell’. Whether I lied or not is not important. Even if I told the truth that would still tantamount to sedition and I would still be guilty.
Then the Prosecution tried to argue we should not look at the article paragraph by paragraph. This was when they discovered that certain paragraphs that had been marked as false were instead true. The court should look at the article in its entirety, argued the Prosecution. Never mind if some paragraphs are seditious while others are not. The article should be looked at in totality and we should not look at just parts of it.
This, again, got them into a corner. The police report that Gan made against me said I had fabricated parts of that article. He then marked four paragraphs where, according to Gan, had been fabricated. In the charge, it said I had fabricated nine paragraphs. Gan said four. The Prosecution said nine. This is already an inconsistency. Now the Prosecution wants the court to ignore the four or nine paragraphs and instead look at the article in totality.
But the police report and charge said that parts of the article had been fabricated. Why do they now want the court to look at the article in totality? Is this an attempt to move the goalposts halfway through the game? It would be contempt of court for me to comment on this matter so I will certainly not make any positive allegation at this stage lest I face yet another charge on top of the many I already face. But their inconsistency and constant ‘shifting’ can’t help but give this impression and I would be shirking my duty if I do not point this out to the readers, contempt or no contempt.
They can’t seem to make up their minds as to what ‘crime’ I have committed. First it is four paragraphs of the article that I was alleged to have posted are seditious. Then it is nine paragraphs. Now it is the whole article that is seditious. Every time they come up against a dead-end they shift the goalposts. If I did not know better, I would suspect they are bent on getting me by hook or by crook and by using fair or foul means. But I will not accuse them of such things, as I am sure the Malaysian justice system would never resort to such underhanded tactics just to put a dissident and critic of the government behind bars.
Since my so-called crime of sedition is the result of certain paragraphs in the article, which I was alleged to have posted, are said to be fabricated, we would then need to get to the truth. Once the truth has been established, we can then compare it with the article I was alleged to have posted and determine whether it is indeed true that certain parts of it had been fabricated. And this is where the testimony of Gan is most crucial.
But Gan would not answer all the questions which Gobind posed to him. He forgets, he is not able to reply, he does not know how to reply, and so on. He just refuses to reply to anything that he is asked. How, then, do we establish the truth? And if we can’t establish the truth, how, then, do we determine whether there are any lies in the article, as they allege?
That is the dilemma we face. They accuse me of posting an article where certain parts of it are alleged to have been fabricated. But they refuse to tell us what the truth is so that we can establish whether there are indeed certain parts in that article that are fabricated.
When asked whether he conducted any investigation to establish if some parts of the article have indeed been fabricated, Gan replied that no investigation had been carried out. How, then, does he know for sure that certain parts of the article have been fabricated if no investigation had been carried out? To this, Gan replied that he based it on assumption. And why does he assume so? Because, Gan replied, he never came across any of these facts during the Altantuya murder trial and no one came forward to volunteer any information to prove the article correct.
In others words, since no one confirmed certain parts of the article as true and since he did not accidentally stumble on such information, then he assumes them to be false. And it is not his job to investigate if indeed certain parts of the article had been fabricated. Since he is not aware of these facts then he assumes them to be false. Simple! What he is not aware of has to be false. There is no other way of looking at it.
And that is how Gan, a police officer with the rank of Superintendant and 30 years experience in the force and now attached to Interpol, comes to conclusions. He looks at what he knows. And what he does not know must be assumed to be false. And based on this assumption I must be sent to jail. I must be sent to jail not because I committed a crime. I must be sent to jail not because I am alleged to have posted an article with some part of it considered seditious. I must be sent to jail because I am alleged to have posted an article where some parts of it are not of the knowledge of Gan and therefore must be assumed to be false.
Welcome to Malaysia, the land of boleh.
P.S. ‘Pink Panther’ used to be my nickname back in the 1970s and was my e-mail ID in the mid-1990s. Tengku Ismail Tengku Ibrahim of Kuala Terengganu can testify to this. And, of course, Superintendant Gan is no Inspector Clouseau but more like the Keystone Cops.