What if His Majesty the Agong wants to see a Memorandum of Understanding signed by all three parties that spells out very clearly and specifically the terms of the ‘Unity Government’ that DAP, PKR and PAS are going to form? And what if DAP insists that one of the terms of the MoU must be that Malaysia retains its Secular State status while PAS insists that the implementation of Hudud be one of the terms of the MoU? And because of this conflict, DAP, PKR and PAS end up in a deadlock and cannot sign the MoU and hence the Agong swears in the new Barisan Nasional government.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
I said the lesser of the evils, not the lesser of the two evils. That is because in some cases there may be more than just two evils. And I am writing this article in response to the posting by Haris Ibrahim titled Manchester’s Plan B, stands and directions? Will RPK make sense of these for us?
In that posting, today, Haris gave me 48 hours to respond. This was what he said in the concluding paragraphs of his posting:
“I don’t know about the rest of you, but I must confess that Plan B leaves me very troubled with the stand and the direction of RPK. Only RPK can lay those concerns to rest. Will the master strategist share his master strategy relating to Plan B, or so much of it as he can, with us? I will wait 48 hours to hear from him.”
Now, if you remember what I had said in the past, politics is always about compromises and choosing the lesser of the evils (or two evils). And that is why, as I had also said, I did not agree with Dr Chandra Muzaffar’s concept of ‘Politik Baru’ or ‘New Politics’.
I also wrote about how Dr Chandra ‘lectured’ me and was quite exasperated when I said ‘Politik Baru’ is an oxymoron. Politics is the oldest profession in the world (or second oldest if you regard prostitution as the oldest). Hence how can you have ‘New Politics’ when politics itself is the oldest game in town?
I was, of course, being cheeky. I knew what Dr Chandra meant. When he said ‘Politik Baru’ he meant we should indulge in clean politics and not in dirty politics. But can you really expect politics to be clean when the only way to win in the political game is to ‘play dirty’, as Malaysians would say?
And that is where the oxymoron comes in. To win you need to play a dirty game. If you play a clean game you would get whacked good and proper.
I used the analogy of a street fight. When someone walks up to you in a bar and punches you, do you put up your fists and defend yourself using Queensbury Rules? Queensbury Rules would work in a boxing ring with referees to monitor the boxing match. But in a bar where your opponent is not only drunk but also much bigger than you, you need to grab a bottle and whack him over the head with it. You floor the bugger then get the hell out of there in double-quick time.
Is this fair? Who cares? Your objective is not to get whacked, or worse, get killed. So you grab whatever you can and finish the guy off. Fair does not apply in such a situation when limb and life are in jeopardy.
Hence, in politics, if your opponent is not playing fair why should you? If you want to win against a dirty opponent you need to be even dirtier than your opponent. And if you do not have the stomach for such a dirty game then do not become a politician because politics is dirty. It is as simple as that.
Dr Chandra was trying to change the rules of the game. But the other side will not play by your rules. They will set their own rules. And the rule is there are no rules. Hence it should be the law of the jungle. And the law of the jungle is about survival of the fittest. The weak die. You either move to the top of the food chain or else you will become food for those stronger than you.
And that is what politics is all about.
For more than a year I have been raising all sorts of issues involving Pakatan Rakyat. I have pointed out the weaknesses in Pakatan Rakyat. I have pointed out that Pakatan Rakyat is no longer honouring the letter and the spirit of The People's’ Declaration although they had endorsed it in the run-up to the last general election.
I also pointed out that we are perturbed by the quality of the candidates. We do not trust some of the people in Pakatan Rakyat and feel that they are for sale. In fact, some have even proven us correct by defecting to the other side.
In our meeting with Anwar Ibrahim in London, we warned him that in the last general election most people were happy to just vote for anyone who was not Umno or Barisan Nasional. However, we have found some of these candidates a huge disappointment. The next time around, we warned Anwar, the voters are going to look at the candidates closely and will vote based on candidates, no longer based on party lines.
Anwar said that he agreed with our observation and that they have taken note of this point and plan to address it when they choose the candidates for the next general election. Anwar also explained that Pakatan Rakyat was having problems attracting candidates to contest on the Pakatan Rakyat ticket.
We were actually quite aware of this. And the problem existed even back in 1999 when Pakatan Rakyat did not exist yet and the opposition coalition then was called Barisan Alternatif. We also personally know some of those people who had been approached. But they declined the offer to contest the election even when they were told they need not join the party but could contest as ‘independent’ candidates. However, they would need to contest on the party ticket even if they did not sign up as party members.
We told Anwar that if this was the only problem they faced then we would be very happy to assist the opposition in sourcing for candidates. Following that, the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) was launched and one of the first tasks of many that we embarked upon was to look for candidates to contest the general election.
We were very surprised, however, when we were told that Pakatan Rakyat would not accept our candidates. We were even more surprised when they started saying that our purpose in looking for candidates was to trigger three-corner contests in an effort to ‘pecah undi’ (split the votes) and help Barisan Nasional win the election.
After a year of trying to explain that this was not our ‘hidden agenda’ and that what we were doing was merely in response to what Pakatan Rakyat said -- their problem in finding candidates -- I decided to abort the exercise.
To make matters worse, we could not meet our target of 30 candidates because of the negative publicity about what we were trying to do. When we met with resistance, we stopped at seven candidates. We thought it was futile to push for 30 when there is so much bad publicity about our effort.
Eventually, the candidates dropped out one-by-one until we were left with just one candidate. And even that solitary candidate was going to be a problem because he wanted to contest in Kapar, Kelang, and that seat was ‘owned’ by PKR and PKR’s man in Kapar, Mike, was not going to give up his seat.
Hence Kapar would have to be a three-corner contest. And if the MCLM candidate contests Kapar in a three-corner fight this will only prove our critics right, that we are splitting the votes to help Barisan Nasional win the seat.
So, as I said, after more than a year of trying unsuccessfully to explain what we were doing and still not making any headway, I announced on 1st January this year that we are abandoning the independent candidate initiative. Actually, what I said was in response to a question by the chap interviewing me.
Jalil Hamid of NST asked me about MCLM and about MCLM’s plan to contest the general election. I corrected him by saying that MCLM never planned to contest the general election. That was not our intention at all. What we were trying to do was to help Pakatan Rakyat look for candidates. However, since this effort is not welcomed, we are dropping the whole idea.
Haris was most unhappy about this and he accused me of making a unilateral decision and said that this had never been discussed. Haris then resigned from MLCM while the others who were supposed to have been the candidates announced that they were distancing themselves from me. It appears my announcement that the independent candidate initiative is now off was not received well at all.
My contention was that if Pakatan Rakyat wanted our support then more effort needed to be put into fielding better candidates. And we told Anwar so, which he did not dispute. However, if what we were trying to do is going to be met with such a negative response then we might as well just abandon the whole exercise.
However, Pakatan Rakyat cannot expect our support if they field substandard candidates. Then everyone screams and tells me that it must be anything but Umno (ABU) and nothing else. Even when I pointed out that Pakatan Rakyat is not perfect, they scream, “Never mind. Pakatan Rakyat may not be perfect. There may be many weaknesses and even some corruption in Pakatan Rakyat. However, compared to Umno and Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Rakyat is the lesser of the two evils.”
So there you have it. We are supporting Pakatan Rakkyat not because they are perfect. We know they are not perfect. But compared to Umno and Barisan Nasional they are the lesser of the two evils. And that would be the principle behind why we should support Pakatan Rakyat. It is a very clear stand we take. Our stand is to support Pakatan Rakyat on the principle that it is the lesser of the two evils.
Okay, if that is what the majority wants then I can live with that. Unfortunately, in a democracy, it is what the majority wants that counts. Whether what the majority wants is right or wrong is not crucial. If the majority in Germany during WWII wanted the Jews exterminated then the Jews will get exterminated. Is this the right thing to do? Maybe not but majority rule is not about what is right. That is the downside of democracy, as history has time and again proven.
Okay, I was opposed to the ends justifying the means, and I said so many times. I was opposed to the concept of choosing the lesser of the two evils, and I said so many times. The end justifying the means is a dangerous concept.
The Americans tried to assassinate Fidel Castro to solve their problem with Cuba. Assassination of a foreign leader is wrong but then the end justifies the means. They were looking at the lesser of the two evils. Assassinating a foreign leader is an evil thing to do. However, allowing Castro to rule Cuba is a bigger evil. Hence assassinating him is the lesser of the two evils.
And that is why I was opposed to the concept of the end justifying the means and the lesser of the two evils. Where do we stop? How far do we go? What becomes halal (allowed) and what becomes haram (forbidden)? Under the concept of the end justifying the means and the lesser of the two evils there is no haram. Everything is halal. So see how dangerous it can become?
While we in the opposition propagate the concept of the end justifying the means and the lesser of the two evils, Umno and Barisan Nasional too play that same game. And they are in power so they can play the game more effectively and more successfully than us.
Okay, what stand do Umno and Barisan Nasional take? Their stand is very simple. They do not want to lose power. So they need to retain power by defeating Pakatan Rakyat in any way possible, fair or foul means never mind.
Umno works on one very basic principle. And that principle is the Chinese control the corporate sector. Hence the Malays must control the political arena. The Chinese cannot dominate both the corporate world as well as politics. The Malays must dominate politics at all costs. And no cost is too great to pay.
What if Umno is going to lose political power? What if the majority of the voters vote against Barisan Nasional? Umno will have to make sure that this does not happen. They cannot allow a level playing field and face the risk of losing power. Hence all manner of gerrymandering must be applied plus the electoral roll will have to be padded with ‘BN-friendly’ voters.
What if after doing all this they still lose the election? Say, in spite of all the manipulation, Barisan Nasional still gets ousted. Are they prepared to quietly walk away and concede defeat? Or will they embark upon a post-election ‘exercise’ ultra virus to the Constitution to prevent Pakatan Rakyat from walking into Putrajaya?
Barisan Nasional has lost the election. But they refuse to give up power. They are retaining power through unconstitutional means. And that is evil. So what do we do? Do we just keep quiet or do we also play that same evil game?
No doubt what we need to do will also be evil. But it is going to be the lesser of the two evils. And the lesser of the two evils would be to launch a civil war against an unconstitutional government that refuses to concede defeat in the general election.
Take note, though, many lives will be lost. And that, of course, is an evil thing to happen. But is the loss of thousands of lives a lesser evil than the loss of the government? Or will it be the other way around? Will the loss of the government be the lesser evil? Would you consider lives as very precious and that the loss of thousands of lives can never justify the quest for power?
Another possible scenario would be that Pakatan Rakyat wins the next general election and there is a smooth and peaceful transfer of power. We cannot rule out that possibility as well. Then that would make this entire discussion purely academic.
Yet another possibility would be that Barisan Nasional wins the general election but with such a slim majority that it is almost a hung Parliament plus they lose almost half the 13 state governments, like what happened once upon a time. Then this triggers a power struggle in Umno, like what happened once upon a time. The group that wants to oust the group in power is more radical and believes in a hard-line action against the opposition to totally wipe out the opposition once and for all.
Now, we want to see the emergence of a two-party system in Malaysia. And two party-system means two parties equally-balanced where one can check the other. However, if the radical group succeeds in grabbing power then this aspiration of a two-party system would be buried. Thus, we need the liberals and not the radicals to hold power in Putrajaya.
If the radicals take over then there would no longer be any credible opposition come the general election, say, in 2018. However, if the liberals rule then the opposition still has one more shot in 2018, or whenever.
Okay, this is based on the scenario that Pakatan Rakyat fails to win the coming general election and Barisan Nasional is weakened further from the 2008 general election. If Pakatan Rakyat does worse than it did in 2008 then the problem ends. If Pakatan Rakyat wins the general election then we may have a problem but a different kind of problem. And if Pakatan Rakyat does better than it did in 2008 but Barisan Nasional still wins then it would be yet another kind of problem.
So there are three possible outcomes and three possible problems attached to these outcomes. Hence, based on the lesser of the evils, as what you all want, we have to figure out our course of action. Each course of action has some evil attached. The question would be: which would you regard as the lesser of that evil?
You may think that the above is mere speculation and not based on anything tangible. Okay, let me put it another way. Say Barisan Nasional wins 110 Parliament seats in total. The balance 112 Parliament seats are shared between PKR, DAP and PAS. Say DAP wins 40 seats, PKR 37 seats and PAS 35 seats. Who will get to form the government?
Barisan Nasional, a legally registered party, has the most number of seats, 110, compared to DAP, PKR and PAS who all won less than 110 seats each. You may argue that DAP, PKR and PAS can always combine their seats, which means the total would be 112 and hence more than Barisan Nasional’s 110.
Are you sure? What if they can’t? What if His Majesty the Agong wants to see a Memorandum of Understanding signed by all three parties that spells out very clearly and specifically the terms of the ‘Unity Government’ that DAP, PKR and PAS are going to form? And what if DAP insists that one of the terms of the MoU must be that Malaysia retains its Secular State status while PAS insists that the implementation of Hudud be one of the terms of the MoU? And because of this conflict, DAP, PKR and PAS end up in a deadlock and cannot sign the MoU and hence the Agong swears in the new Barisan Nasional government.
Yes, yet a fourth possible scenario. And in politics anything is possible. In fact, the more impossible it may appear the more possible that it may happen. So, in this case, which would you regard as the lesser of the two evils? I don’t know so you tell me. Migrate? Take up arms and start a civil war? Curse PAS and DAP for not coming to an agreement on the matter of Hudud? Curse Anwar for not resolving this matter before the general election? What? You tell me!