I am talking about the Statutory Declaration dated 18.6.2008 by Raja Petra bin Raja Kamarudin which was published by Malaysiakini on 20.6.2008. It was "mindboggling", as Beh Lih Yi of Malaysiakini described it. Reactions from the netizens were swift. Some believed the truth of the contents and some of course laughed it off as another stunt by Raja Petra.
The Attorney General quickly said that it amounts to criminal defamation. He then lodged a police report against Raja Petra. Malik Imtiaz, in his ever so precise observation of the whole episode expressed his concern at the actions being taken by the Attorney General as it seemed that "the focus of the exercise will be Raja Petra rather than the substance of his allegations in a manner reminiscent of the Irene Fernandez affair", to quote him.
Elsewhere, Karpal Singh urged the Attorney General to investigate the claim made by Raja Petra in the SD. Lim Kit Siang even moved the Parliament to discuss the same. Needless to say, the Speaker of the House found there was nothing to discuss.
The mainstream media of course went to sleep and was loudly snoring, in the blissful, albeit wishful, thoughts that the Malaysian public are ignorant of the whole thing. When the matter was reported about 2 days later, of course, the name of the characters in the SD were blanked out. Rosmah, who was at the centre of the whole thing, was only referred to as "the wife of a VIP" or in Malay, "isteri seorang kenamaan". Contrast that to any guy who is caught for shoplifting. The news will read "Ali bin Sudin, aged 34, from Flat Bahagia, Cheras, was yesterday caught for shoplifting"! Hmmm...the Malaysian mainstream media, love them, hate them, but you will surely be able to live without them.
Najib Razak, Abdullah Ahmad, Khairy Jamaluddin, the characters mentioned in the SD stayed mum for 5 days. Yesterday, they all came out with guns blazing to deny the contents of the SD. 5 days. FIVE days. My cat had bolted out of the house and went to Putrajaya and back. That was how long they took to come out and deny it. Dr Mahathir, in a rare display of public agreement with Abdullah Ahmad, has reportedly said that Raja Petra's accusation was a political ploy.
The police, in the meantime, had stated that they would be questioning Raja Petra. Whether that has been done at the time of writing is unknown. Najib meanwhile was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying that Rosmah had been questioned by the police. Today, mainstream newspapers screamed out the denial by Abdullah Ahmad and Najib Razak.Total lies, they say.
Everybody who is somebody seems to be hot and bothered. They jumped. Some even flipped. It seems that all rationale has been lost. Nobody seems to have any intelligence. All are emotional. A very big storm indeed. Over nothing.
The SD proves, if ever it proves anything, that Malaysians love rumours and unsubstantiated claims. But that is all to be expected in a country where freedom of speech and media are an alien concept although its Federal Constitution guarantees the same. Malaysians can't get accurate reporting of events from the media and so nobody is to blame when rumours are regarded as not true until they are expressly denied. That is our fate, fellow Malaysians. It is sad, I know, but that is the truth. So life goes on.
Has anybody asked what is the probative value of the SD. Zero. That is the answer. What the deponent (Raja Petra) is saying in the SD is that he was reliably informed by someone or some people that Rosmah, together with 2 other persons, were present at the crime scene. He also said he was reliably informed that, among others, a military intelligence report on the matter was given to Abdullah Ahmad, who then gave the same to Khairy Jamaludin for safe keeping. The said report was also given to a Malay Ruler.
That's it. He did not reveal who his informer is. He did not even say that he believes his informer other than to say that he had been "reliably" informed. To be "reliably informed" is one thing but to believe an information is another thing altogether.
The position under the law is simple. This is hearsay. Raja Petra did not and does not have personal knowledge of the matters he was alluding to in the SD. He is relying on an information. Therefore that piece of evidence is hearsay. Being hearsay, it will not be admissible in a court of law for the purpose of proving the fact that Rosmah was at the crime scene or the fact relating to the existence of the military report.
However, although it is hearsay, it could be admitted by the Court to prove Raja Petra's belief in those matters. But what Raja Petra's belief is not relevant. An irrelevant evidence is also not admissible in Court. I may say that I believe Altantuya killed herself. I can swear 4 Statutory Declaration to that effect. But my opinion or belief is not relevant. Because they don't matter. The same goes with Raja Petra's belief. It is not relevant and therefore not admissible. And so we are back to square one.
The question is, why the hoo-haa over something which is so irrelevant and unsubstantiated? And to the Honourable Attorney General and the IGP, why are you all investigating Raja Petra for what he believes? What makes his belief so relevant?
Or is there something more to all these? One wonders.