Civil disobedience, not demos, the way to go

Raja Petra Kamarudin

I did not participate in the demonstration in front of the KLCC last Friday. In fact, I did not go to the demonstration in front of Wisma Denmark to protest the caricatures insulting Prophet Muhammad either. Frankly speaking, I not only think it is a complete waste of time, I also think it is too little too late.

What is the purpose of these demonstrations? To express outrage? Bullshit! If you are really outraged, you would do more than just stand on the street corner for an hour and shout and scream. You would do something worthwhile if you are genuinely concerned and really angry.

First of all, how did you get to the demonstration? Did you drive your Malaysian-made Proton that is highly priced and of poor quality? Or did you drive your better-quality non-Proton car that has been heavily taxed to give Proton a competitive edge? And I am sure, on the way to the demonstration, you filled up your fuel tank with the ‘expensive’ petrol that you are protesting against.

You are terribly unhappy with Proton yet you still buy it. Okay, maybe you argue that you buy Proton because it is relatively cheaper compared to other cars (actually it is not, but other cars have been heavily taxed to give this illusion that Proton is cheaper). Well, if you are really not happy, you would never buy Proton, never mind how much cheaper it may be. You will buy another brand even though it is more expensive. And you would do this on point of principle. You would never scream that drinking liquor is haram and express your outrage while holding a beer bottle in your hand.

Why spend more money buying another brand when you can save some money buying a Proton? Well, this is called sacrifice. You sacrifice your money purely on point of principle. You will buy another brand at a more expensive price so that you do not support what you are opposed to. This is the sacrifice (korban) you make and Islam says you cannot berjuang (struggle) without korban. You just cannot berjuang yet refuse to korban. Prophet Muhammad said that when doing charity, do it with what you treasure most, only then would it be true charity. And when you struggle, sacrifice what you treasure most, your life if necessary. Sacrifice your life? Come on! You will not even sacrifice a small portion of your money.

Islam says amar maaruf, nahi munkar is mandatory. You must uphold the truth and oppose cruelty, transgressions and violations. Sure, everyone wants the freedom to speak the truth and oppose transgressions. But they would do it behind the safety of their computers and use undetectable pseudonyms. Okay, you do this because you are scared of retaliation and detention. I have no problems with that. I can appreciate that. But then don’t scream and shout that you are upholding and defending Islam. You are not. You are a coward. You are not prepared to sacrifice for Islam. You forfeit your right to speak for Islam. Islam demands you put your life on the line in defence of the truth. Don’t talk about your life. You are not even prepared to risk your freedom, your job, your salary, or the comforts that you have become addicted to. This is not the mark of a Muslim warrior. It is, as Islam says, the mark of a weak Muslim.

Let us talk about the demonstration in front of Wisma Denmark and the one following that at the New Straits Times office in Jalan Riong. Why did you demonstrate? Is it because you are outraged that various newspapers had insulted Prophet Muhammad? What insult? I do not see any insults. Do you want to know what is really insulting to Prophet Muhammad? Insulting Prophet Muhammad is not following his teachings and saying that what has been forbidden has to be allowed in these modern times. That is insulting Prophet Muhammad. It makes Prophet Muhammad appear outdated (ketinggalan zaman), as if what he taught then was only applicable then and not now. It makes the Prophet appear short-sighted. That is really insulting.

How many of those who demonstrated their outrage at the caricatures have flown to Mekkah to perform their Haj or Umrah on a Malaysian Airlines (MAS) flight? Does MAS not serve and sell liquor onboard its flights? And are not those stewards and stewardesses who handle the liquor Muslims? Is not liquor forbidden, according to Prophet Muhammad? Is not an airline owned by a government that claims to be ‘Islamic’ and yet dabbles in liquor make a mockery of Prophet Muhammad’s teachings? How come these demonstrators don’t become outraged when they are forced to fly on an airline that sells liquor? How come they don’t demonstrate in front of the Pilgrims Fund (Tabung Haji) building?

Malaysian pilgrims should boycott MAS. Malaysian pilgrims should demand they be allowed to fly to Mekkah to perform their Haj or Umrah on liquor-free Saudia, the Saudi Arabian airlines, or any other liquor-free airline that flies from Kuala Lumpur to Jeddah. I know what you are going to say: if they don’t fly MAS, then they will be denied entry into Saudi Arabia. Well, then boycott the Haj. They should refuse to perform their Haj until either MAS stops serving and selling liquor or until they are allowed to fly to Mekkah on another liquor-free airline. Sacrifice your Haj on point of principle. Refuse to perform your Haj until the ‘Muslim’ airline stops insulting the Prophet and follows the Prophet’s teachings. That is more important than a stupid carton.

The government has taken over all the mosques. The government controls all the mosques and the kutbah (sermon) are all prepared by the religious department. No mosque can read its own sermons. If it does, then the imam and the entire mosque committee would be sacked and replaced by appointees and nominees of the religious department from amongst Umno supporters and members.

The sermons prepared by the religious department tell us that we must not oppose the government. It is un-Islamic to do so. We must kowtow to the government. That is the Islamic way. That is what Prophet Muhammad and Islam demands of Muslims.

Bullshit! Prophet Muhammad opposed the government. So did all the other Prophets including Moses and Jesus, except maybe Adam. Many Prophets suffered retaliation because they opposed the government. The religious department is spreading government propaganda. They are lying and misleading Muslims. How come Muslims are not expressing outrage? How come Muslims are not demonstrating? How come Muslims allow this to happen? Is this not an insult to Islam? Is this not insulting Prophet Muhammad?

Boycott the mosques. Boycott Friday prayers. Empty the mosques until this is put right. Pray at home or the office instead of going to the mosque on Friday. Don’t become an accomplice to the transgressions the religious department and mosques are committing against Islam. What they are doing is a bigger insult to Prophet Muhammad than stupid cartoons.

I witnessed an incident once in Terengganu where some members of the congregation walked out of the mosque and went home to pray when the imam read a very crappy sermon that was clearly government propaganda. In another incident, some members of the congregation stood up to do their four-rakaat Zohor prayers instead of joining the congregational prayers because they disagreed with the sermon. Now, that is what I call protesting. One of my old school friends (Anwar Ibrahim’s classmate) stood up during one Friday prayer at the KLCC mosque and shouted at the imam to shut up and sit down. The shocked imam immediately stopped talking and sat down. My friend felt quite bad when the imam died soon after that. He felt guilty about it and thought that maybe the shock resulted in the imam getting a heart attack.

Last Friday, thousands turned out to protest the increase in fuel prices. Why bother to protest? Is it because it affects your pocket? When it affects you personally, you protest and demonstrate. But when it affects the nation, you don’t care.

This is what Malaysiakini said last week in its news headed ‘Where did Petronas’ RM500 billion go?

Over the past 31 years since Petronas was formed, the national oil company has earned profits and contributed to the government coffers up to RM500 billion. What has happened to the money?

That is what DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng wants to know.

“A good question to ask is whether the people have enjoyed a share of this RM500 billion profits or that only a small number of top leaders who practiced cronyism, corruption and rent-seeking are the real benefactors,” said Lim, who is an accountant by training.

Lim Guan Eng says it is RM500 billion. Prof. Jomo says it is RM800 billion. Let us work out the figures.

Terengganu receives RM800 million a year in royalty. This represents 5% of the oil and gas extracted from the state. Terengganu contributes to half of Malaysia’s oil and gas revenue, the other half coming from Sabah and Sarawak. This means RM800 million is 2.5% of the nation’s oil and gas revenue. So 100% comes to RM32 billion a year or RM1,000 billion over 31 years. Discount it 20% to compensate for fluctuations in production and price and this would still come to RM800 billion, the figure Jomo came out with. RM560 billion is just for the 22 years that Dr Mahathir was Prime Minister. In fact, it is closer to RM700 billion, but we have discounted it by 20%, so the figure tallies with that mentioned by Lim Guan Eng (except it is for 22 years and not 31).

Okay, never mind, RM500 billion or RM800 billion, both figures are still huge. When Dr Mahathir left office after 22 years as Prime Minister, Petronas’ reserves were exactly the same as the day he took office. Taking into consideration that money would grow, even if not invested and left idle in the bank for 22 years, this means Petronas’ reserves actually declined. So where did the RM500 billion or RM800 billion go to, whichever the figure may be? The fact that Petronas’ accounts are not for public scrutiny, not even by Parliament, means only the Prime Minister knows what the real figure is.

Forget about the 30 sen increase in fuel prices. This is peanuts. This is only RM4.4 billion a year. What we should be more concerned about is what is happening to the RM32 billion a year. In the five years of the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the 30 sen comes to only RM22 billion. But Petronas’ total revenue over that five years would be RM160 billion. Should this not be what we focus on? Should we not demonstrate against this rather than the 30 sen increase in fuel prices? We should not become outraged with what we have to pay extra. We should be outraged about what they are doing with all that money.

We kick up a fuss because of 30 sen. But we are complacent about the hundreds of billions of OUR MONEY the government is mismanaging. We do not care what happens to the nation’s money. We only care about what has to leave our pockets. Selfish! Pure selfishness!

I will not demonstrate because of 30 sen. But I will if it is because of RM800 billion gone down the drain. I will not demonstrate because of stupid cartoons. But I will if it is because the Prophet has been insulted by ignoring his teachings. I do not support the religious department raiding discos and clubs in Kuala Lumpur. But I will support it if it raids the MAS office and charge them for ‘un-Islamic’ activities to prove they are genuinely concerned about Muslims drinking liquor. I will pray at home and not go for my Friday prayers if the mosques are controlled by the government and the sermons prepared by the religious department spread government propaganda and lies. But I will do so whenever I can find an independent mosque that preaches the truth. I will not perform my Haj if I am forced by law to fly on an airline that makes money through un-Islamic business activities. But I will if I can be allowed the freedom to fly on the airline of my choice.

That is my way of protesting. I protest on bigger issues, not on small issues like cartoons and 30 sen. This is called civil disobedience. This is what brought the British in India down. This is what may soon bring the Thai government down. And this is why we cannot bring the Barisan Nasional government down — because we don’t practice civil disobedience. We just shout and scream on street corners. Then we go home and live our life as usual. Bullshit, a complete waste of time as far as I am concerned.

If you are opposed to liquor, then don’t drink and don’t support any establishment that promotes liquor. If you are opposed to Proton, then don’t buy it, buy another brand. If you are opposed to the increase in fuel prices, then don’t buy petrol. If you are opposed to insults on the Prophet, then follow his teachings to the letter. If you are opposed to the government, then practice civil disobedience. But whatever you do, don’t scream and shout on street corners then do nothing about what upsets you. And if you are not ready to do all this because you are not prepared to sacrifice, face the risk of retaliation, suffer the consequences, or lose your job and the comforts that come with it, then shut up and do the safe thing by not doing anything.

Perjuangan membawa risiko dan perlu pengorbanan. Kalau takut risiko dan tidak sanggup berkorban, jangan bicara tentang perjuangan.