Satu kerbau membawa lumpur

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Last week, I published a news item (Brazilian couple’s wedding ends in brawl with Malaysian royalty) about some members of the Johore Royal Family who were involved in fisticuffs on Rawa Island, off the Johore coast. This happened during a wedding reception that they had gate-crashed.

Actually, the news item is not really that news worthy, but I thought I would carry it for three reasons.

First, I want members of the royal family to know that they are being watched and the public will not tolerate any nonsense from them. Of course, if I were to publish names of rulers who sell titles and decorations for hundreds of thousands of Ringgit apiece, or names of their off-springs who are beneficiaries of government contracts, timber concessions, land, and so on, they would lodge a police report and I would be hauled in to Bukit Aman, yet again, and the police would raid my house and confiscate my computers, yet again.

But the excesses, transgressions and abuses of power of members of the royal family need to be exposed so that they know they need to toe the line or get reviled.

No doubt, one can always argue that politicians in office commit worse abuses of power compared to that of royalty. As an example, the Chief Ministers of Sabah and Sarawak have plundered their states in the few years that they have been in power worse than all the royal families put together in 100 years. But two wrongs do not make a right and just because Chief Ministers steal billions from the rakyat does not mean it is alright for the royal family to steal millions, even if what they steal is merely a small percentage of what the politicians steal.

We must remember, the Chief Ministers are elected by the people (well, appointed by the Prime Minister actually, but they need to win a seat in the election first) while no one democratically elected the rulers or immediate members of their family to the throne (it is inherited). So the Chief Ministers, in a way, have the ‘authority’ to do what they do while the rulers do not.

The rulers and their off-springs normally argue that whatever they got from the government — be it government land, timber concessions, contracts, etc. — were given to them, in that they only applied for it but it was approved by the Chief Minister, State EXCO, Prime Minister, or Federal Government. But not many people know this. They assume it was the rulers who rampas (seized) everything and they do not know that the government needs to approve this land and so on before they can get it.

Second, I want the rulers and their family to be aware of public sentiment towards them, which is not good. Many Malaysians feel Malaysia would be better off as a Republic. No doubt, most Malays would never go for it as, once Malaysia becomes a Republic, then Malays, as the Lords of the Land (Ketuanan Melayu), would end and all Malaysians, under a Republic, would be given equal status. This means, not only Malays, but Chinese and Indians as well would be regarded as Bumiputeras.

As much as many feel this would never happen, why push your luck? Why do things that may finally make the Malays so fed up with the conduct of the rulers and members of their family that they push for Malaysia to be turned into a Republic?

Third, and most important of all, I want members of the royal family to know that what they do affects all other members of the royal family, even though these others have never committed a crime in their lifetime other than maybe breaking the speed limit or double-parking. Just see some of the comments in the blog to understand what I mean. Just because of a couple of delinquents, bloggers post comments condemning the entire royal family.

And this is most unfortunate, so we need to condemn these delinquents to save those innocent ones.

Take my family as an example. My great-grandfather, Sultan Ala’Eddin Suleiman Shah (the Fifth Sultan of Selangor) had ten wives and 45 children. This means I have 45 grandparents in all. They, in turn, in total, have hundreds of children; my father, uncles and aunties. These hundreds of uncles and aunties have thousands of children of my generation.

I now not only have children but grandchildren as well. So, my generation, the two generations below me, plus the two generations above me, run into tens of thousands. That is how large my family is.

How many of these tens of thousands receive government land, timber concessions, contracts and the like (or beat people up)? Yes, some do, maybe 1% or less, but the balance 99% work for a living. In my family are bankers, engineers, accountants, doctors, airline pilots, musicians, in fact, all you need to do is think of a profession and chances are you will find one amongst my family.

While 1% of my family, those directly linked to the throne, may have benefited somewhat from the government, the other 99% who never received anything are condemned as leeches and robbers because of the 1%.

I am not blaming Malaysians for being unfair as much as it may be un-Islamic to condemn one for a crime he or she did not commit. After all, how many Malaysians know what is really happening? Newspapers only print bad news. They do not print good news. So the bad that the 1% do is publicised while the good that the 99% do is not mentioned. Therefore, any news on the royal family would only be bad news, never good news.

And this is what the 1% needs to know. They need to know that the bad they do affect the 99% who never do any wrong. And this is most unfortunate, but that is the reality of the situation.

As the Malays say, satu kerbau membawa lumpur, semuanya terkena kotor (or something like that) — which roughly translates to mean: one buffalo wallows in mud and the entire herd gets dirt on it.