Many happy returns of the day keADILan

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Today is Monday, 11 April 2005. And what, you may ask, is so significant about today’s date? Well, nothing really significant, actually, unless you regard my detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) on 11 April 2001 as something significant. Then today would be the fourth anniversary of that detention.

What IS significant about today’s date, though, is the fact that today is exactly one week after Monday, 4 April 2005, and three days to 14 April 2005. Now, again, you may ask, what is so significant about 4 April 2005 and 14 April 2005?

Well, 4 April 2005 was Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s anniversary, the party that saw life as Parti Keadilan Nasional until it merged with Parti Rakyat Malaysia to become Parti Keadilan Rakyat. And 14 April 2005 is ‘Black 14’, the day that has customarily been celebrated by the Reformasi Movement, the anniversary of Anwar Ibrahim’s six years and seven months jail sentencing (without the normally allowed bail) for what the government said was his corrupt act — and the first time in Malaysian judicial history that someone was found guilty of ‘corruption’ that involved no financial gain of any kind.

Okay, to me at least, 14 April 2005 is a special day, even if the Reformasi Movement no longer remembers or celebrates this day. 14 April 2005 will be my 32nd wedding anniversary. I married my wife on 14 April 1973, four years after I first met her when she was only 14 and I, 18. But that would be only for me to celebrate and should not involve any other Malaysians or the Reformists.

Anyway, back to the issue of the day, 4 April 2005 was keADILan’s sixth anniversary. But did anyone remember? I bet most have totally forgotten keADILan’s birthday. And will 14 April 2005, ‘Black 14’, be any more important to these same people? I bet not!

I don’t think I need to say more. I will let the article I wrote on Monday, 14 June 2004, ‘Many happy returns of the day keADILan’, which appeared in the Free Anwar Campaign website, speak for itself.

Many happy returns of the day keADILan

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday ke-aaa-dilan
Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday ke-aaa-dilan
Happy birthday to you

Dear keADILan,

I hope you will accept my very belated birthday wishes. I am sorry I forgot your birthday this year. I just remembered a couple of days ago that your birthday was on 4 April. I know that was more than two months ago, but, as they say, better late than never.

I know how lonely it must feel when everyone forgets your birthday. Your first birthday on 4 April 2000 was celebrated in grandeur and style. We threw a big birthday bash for you at the only six stars hotel in Malaysia (or at least they claim they are ‘six stars’ though I thought the best hotel in the world is only ‘five stars’), the Mandarin Oriental.

Your next three birthdays in 2001, 2002 and 2003 were also celebrated with gusto, though of course we could no longer afford to hold it at the Mandarin Oriental as by then not many of your supporters were prepared to spend any money on you.

I hope you will not feel too dejected that your birthday seems to be of no significance anymore. I don’t think it is because your supporters have stopped loving you. Maybe they have too many things on their mind they totally forgot that it was your birthday.

You see, the country just held its 11th General Election in late March. That was just a couple of days before your birthday. As you are aware, you did not do too well this election. In the election before that in November 1999, though you were merely six months old then, your performance was quite impressive by any standards. Though you won only five parliamentary seats and four state seats, that is by no means a small feat. Then, exactly one year later, you added one more state seat to your list of achievements when you won the Lunas by-election.

Everyone actually expected you to better this in the recent general election. They thought you would at least double the number of seats and maybe help PAS win Kedah State as well. Some of the more bullish supporters even predicted you might win Selangor State, or at least deny BN its two-thirds majority even if you could not win the state outright.

Unfortunately, you lost all your seats save that of your president. Even then your president won her seat by the skin of her nose. I must admit your performance leaves much to be desired. And the loss of Terengganu and the almost checkmate situation in Kelantan did not help matters either, though you may claim you are not entirely to blame seeing that PAS took the lead in these two state. Nevertheless, you and PAS are partners, so whatever they do and however their performance will reflect on you.

Anyway, if it is of any consolation to you, I do not blame you for your dismal performance and almost total wipe out. Though you may have not shown much in terms of seats, you actually did not do too badly in the number of votes you garnered. The slide in your votes was not that significant compared to the first election you participated in. No doubt many say you failed to capture any new votes. But then, you and I know there was rampant and blatant cheating in the election, so, even if a more established and senior party like PAS could be overwhelmed by the onslaught, how can you be expected to do better?

You must understand, keADILan, people like to be associated with success. No one likes to be seen with a loser. And, unfortunately, because of your recent performance, many now view you as a loser. When they thought you were going to succeed, everyone stood by your side and claimed to be your supporter. They scrambled over each other to represent you in the election. Do you know how many quarrels and petty feuds erupted because everyone wanted to be your candidate in the recent general election? At one point it got so bad people were airing their dirty linen in public and arguing through the media.

Well, now that the election is over, they have all crawled back into whichever holes they crawled out from. Since the last election we have hardly seen any of the faces of those who proudly claimed they were ‘your man’, or ‘your woman’, as the case may be. In fact, some of these people no longer even attend your meetings or grace your functions. It is as if these people have evaporated into thin air.

But then this is what life is all about. When they think they can use you, they flock to your side. If you are no longer useful to them, they will not give you the time of day. You are still young. You just turned five in April. When you reach my age you will understand what I am talking about.

I honestly feel sorry for you. I know you meant well and you sincerely thought you could change this country for the better. But I must caution you, you are being a bit too idealistic here. People don’t want change. They want money. And as long as there is money in their pockets they don’t care a damn what happens to this country. I’m afraid you are all alone in your battle for change. Not many actually share your ideals or are prepared to make the sacrifices that you expect from them. People are selfish. They only want to know what they can get out of you. They are not interested in what they have to give to you.

But please do not take this too personal or regard it as a failure on your part. It is not your fault. The fault lies with your supporters. Of course, many shout rhetoric such as “lawan tetap lawan” and all that crap. But this is merely what it is, rhetoric. Did you honestly think they meant all that? Did you imagine for one minute these shouters and screamers were really prepared to suffer and struggle for your cause? If you believed that, then you probably believe pigs can fly.

Look at your father, Anwar Ibrahim. Your father was the one who brought your elder brother, Reformasi, into this world in September 1998. Soon after that your father got sent to prison and, seven months later, you were born. Everyone thought you and your brother would continue your father’s struggle and lead this nation to greatness. Maybe you were both still young then but you certainly showed promise. And the fact your father was Anwar Ibrahim certainly helped in building this confidence in everyone.

But even your father now no longer attracts the crowds like he used to. So how can you be expected to do better? And your brother, Reformasi, is in an even worse situation.

When your father attends trial, there is but a handful of people outside the court. Maybe 40 or 50 people attend the Tahlil and prayers at his house on Thursday nights. It is sad that it has come to this. But, as I said, that is life.

Maybe it is time you asked yourself whether you should just give up this hopeless struggle and do something else with your life. Your brother too does not seem to realise this. He still stands on the street corner shouting “Reformasi”, but no one takes any notice of him anymore. He is beginning to become an embarrassment and many of your supporters actually no longer want him around anymore. They feel it would be better if he just crawled into a hole somewhere and die quietly. Do you want to wait till you reach this stage before you do something?

You have sacrificed so much for the people. But do the people care? Are they concerned whether you have eaten or whether you have a roof over your head? Of course they flock to your side come the election. But please don’t feel flattered. They are not there for you. They only want to use your name as candidates in the election. They just want to become keADILan Wakil Rakyats and enjoy the glamour and the perks. If they succeed, they will claim they represent you. If they fail, you will not see their faces until the next election in four or five years’ time. And they don’t even remember your birthday.

Do you want to continue being used in this manner? Do you enjoy being prostituted? Even a prostitute receives money for opening her legs. What do you get? You really must think hard on this one. And you must also think of your father’s fate. But I really do not know what advice I can offer you other than you must now start choosing your friends carefully and no longer fall for the sweet talk of all those who only want to use you for their own ends.

I hope your father will see freedom soon. If not, you are the only one left who can continue the struggle in his name. I don’t think we can expect much from your brother, Reformasi. I think he is too far gone and beyond help. You are the only one who can do anything. And I sincerely hope you will one day succeed.

Anyway, many happy returns of the day keADILan! I promise, next year, I will not forget your birthday. By the way, do you know they also forgot your father’s birthday in August last year? I did not forget though. I put a happy birthday message for him on the Internet.