"Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently, and for the same reason." - Eça de Queirós
COMMENT Well, it seems blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) is in the news again. I have no idea how the "he said, he said" game between private eye P Balasubramaniam and him is newsworthy, except that it proves my point that online journalism has that unmistakable tinge of yellow in it.
I still can't help but be amazed at the vitriol spewed RPK's way by the former faithful. I've written about RPK before and have no interest in pointing out the hypocrisy of his former evangelical admirers or the nature of his shit-stirring posts.
When he is not feeding a certain section of the wired Malaysian public with his salacious but entertaining concoctions of the seedy underbelly of the powers-that-be, which now include Pakatan Rakyat, he's digging around in the racial muck beneath the muhibbah spirit, slaying sacred cows of the Chinese and Indians (well, mostly Chinese) much as he did in his glory days with the Malays with blog posts such as 'The art of silat' and 'On that sahabat karib thing again'.
Then there is something like 'It is not about government, it is about us', which is another in a long line of attempts to repudiate his extremely partisan former position and place himself firmly in the centre of the Malaysian body politic.
Educated readers would have always viewed what RPK said in his messiah days with a healthy dose of skepticism and I believe it is they who still regularly visit his blog and form the majority of his readers, now that he has managed to piss off both sides of the political divide.
Near religious showdown
So although I have no interest in his feud with Balasubramaniam, I did find his blog post 'An adversary impossible to beat' meandering but ultimately interesting if flawed. No doubt for most Pakatan supporters whatever he writes (now) is verboten by their alliance groupthink, but I think he raises some interesting points about the nature of the BN-Pakatan conflict although he misses far too many along the way.
The central thesis of his argument is that the Najib Razak regime's primary adversaries are the faith and belief that Pakatan has managed to harness for their political benefit.
He characterises the extremely partisan nature of this conflict as a near religious showdown between those who have faith that their belief in Pakatan would result in changes for the better (even though they have no real evidence of this) if Pakatan ever came into federal power and those who wish to maintain the status quo, believing the devil you know is better than the one you don't.
In his 'It is not about government, it is about us' post, he articulates certain contradictions of the lack of ‘idealism' (which ironically is the main propaganda tool of the Pakatan machine) with regards to certain fundamental issues and policies in Pakatan supporters and their realpolitik belief that the only way for ‘change' is kicking out BN and then working out a basic framework with the belief that any problems would be handled by Pakatan in an egalitarian manner.
In other words, they (Pakatan supporters) don't want to put in the effort for fighting for collective principles or policies which differentiate them from BN, all the while coasting on the corruption scandals that feed the need for ‘change'. Any attempt to point this out is perceived as either the Machiavellian workings of pro-BN trolls or contrarian opinions that hamper the progress to Putrajaya.
While I do believe that faith and belief are adversaries of the Najib regime, I believe they are secondary in nature. I think the primary adversary is hate. There is a certain section, perhaps a sizeable section of the voting public who hates BN and has no real interest in questioning the ideological foundations or lack thereof of their preferred political alliance, except as a vehicle to replace BN on the Putrajaya throne.
Ironically it is RPK that brought to boil this hate with his shit-stirring posts in his messianic heyday. By slaying Malay sacred cows and exposing in the most polemical of manner the malfeasances of BN and positioning Pakatan as the white knight that would banish the BN evil from the land, he set up the playing board that he finds so frustrating now.
As Helen Ang (left), the bête noire of most DAP supporters, points out in her various contrarian posts (which is a good thing), Pakatan supporters have no problem pointing out the ‘hate' spewing forth from BN, but have no qualms about engaging in hate of their own.
Indeed cruise the comments section of Malaysiakini and you would be surprised (or maybe you won't be) of the hateful speech which passes most often without notice since it's either directed at BN or at ideas that don't sit comfortably with Pakatan supporters.
Her 'Haram sokong DAP not mirror image of ABU, meh?' and 'Kafir rating downgraded' posts are in my opinion problematic (seeing as how I am partisan in nature) but nonetheless illuminating on the hypocritical nature of oppositional politics but also for old timers like me with more than a passing familiarity with opposition parties before their revamped image, extremely perceptive.
Before there was ‘PAS for all', I used to hang out with the "bad old" PAS boys who had no problem calling for the fall of the "maha firaun" and his despicable silencing of opponents using the ISA and his regime's systemic corruption, but had no problem imposing Islam regardless of the objections of the non-Muslims.
These same loyal (sic) Muslims are part of the ‘new' PAS, alternating between seething resentment at being accused of being pro-BN lackeys if they voice their consent for hudud or any other Islamic preoccupations and rabid obsession of ejecting Umno by any means necessary even if it means having an undeclared ceasefire with the heathens until the time is ripe for a religious revival.
Ang's Pakatan baiting 'Logo Hari Merdeka Pakatan ada elemen-elemen Kristian' post was a much needed master class in Internet trolling if only because it brought out the vicious undercurrents of Pakatan (DAP specifically) hate mongers who view any Chinese not supportive of the aims of DAP (or Pakatan) as self-loathing cretins - the usual murder fantasies were spewed her way - and the popular canard that only non-Umno Malay/Muslims were acceptable in this new Malaysia.
Indeed any Malay ‘intellectual' who engages in public self-flagellation all the while partaking in broadsides against Umno is welcomed as an enlightened Malay but woe to the Malay who points out the fact that the so-called systemic racism goes hand in hand with the general racism that afflicts this country or makes a defence of Umno ideology, which is not far off from Pakatan's own dogma except without the decades of abuse. This last part is an important point, which would explain the ‘faith" aspect in RPK's argument.
This is why we have the "why can't they get on with the programme" attitude when it comes to status quo agitators like Hindraf. This is why these groups are demonised by the zealots secure in their multiracial/cultural camouflage but displaying no real commitment to the ideal.
Of course, there will always be those who self-righteously shout down those who draw attention to this fact as having done nothing for 55 years (how absurd), but don't seem to have a problem with the inmates running the asylum in their new found role as liberators. Frogs not only leap, they breed.
Umno, of course, has already proven that it is incompetent in these power/perception games. So long being used to locking up those who disagree with them and relying solely on their propaganda tools has left them unable to form a coherent strategy of dealing with Pakatan and the wild west frontier of the new media. "Blunder after blunder and still standing by dodgy means" should be their Merdeka Day slogan.
So, in my opinion RPK has got it somewhat wrong. I think both our arguments paint a bleak picture of the political landscape of Malaysia. Each side is peddling a different thing, playing on our sentiments. Umno is peddling fear, while Pakatan hope.
There are many who would blame Umno for this, and rightly a large portion of the blame should go to them, but this piece really isn't about Umno or BN. And this may be the reason why many would find it unpalatable.
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.