Remember, remember, the twelfth of September

The Permatang Pauh Declaration was Anwar’s declaration to the rakyat of Malaysia. The People’s Declaration was a declaration by the civil society movements, which was endorsed and adopted by seven political parties, Pakatan Rakyat included.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The Penanti by-election will soon be upon us. This is going to be the sixth by-election since the last general election of 8 March 2008. We have seen battles of the giants in Permatang Pauh last year and Kuala Terengganu and Bukit Gantang this year. In a way, these were proxy wars between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat. Penanti, however, is going to be the mother of all battles. Penanti is going to be a proxy war between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

This is going to be a take-no-prisoners battle. This is going to be a winner-takes-all battle. Whether Anwar is going to continue to be seen as the opposition leader and whether Dr Mahathir is going to continue to be seen as the Grand Old Man of Malaysian politics will be decided on the battlefield of Penanti.

In a way, Penanti will be the Waterloo for both Dr Mahathir and Anwar. But only one is going to be the Duke of Wellington of Malaysia. The other will be relegated to the role of the Napoleon Bonaparte of Malaysia. Who is going to be ‘Wellington’ and who will be ‘Napoleon’ will be decided on the battlefield of Penanti. And it is going to be a battle not to be missed.

Some say Pakatan Rakyat is going to win hands down. Don’t be too sure of that. Complacency and overconfidence is going to be the death of Pakatan Rakyat if it is lulled into believing it cannot but win in Penanti. Was that not the arrogance of Goliath just moments before he was felled by a mere stone from David’s slingshot?

What has each got to offer the Malaysian voters, in particular those from Penanti? Currently, nothing new! It is going to be the same old shit except on different days, that’s all. Politicians talk, as the Malays would say, with manis mulut. Translated literally this means ‘sweet mouth’. But is it not the characteristic of politicians to play to the gallery? Some even run with the hares and hunt with the hounds when it suits them. Malays call this main kayu tiga, or play with three sticks, whatever that is supposed to mean.

The greatest mistake any politician of this era can make is to take the voters for granted. This would be a cardinal and most unforgivable sin and punishable by humiliation at the ballot box. And once punished it will take many elections before one is forgiven again.

Penanti is a good battlefield. Penanti is within the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency. And slightly over ten years ago, on 12 September 1998, Anwar delivered his most famous Permatang Pauh Declaration.

What is the Permatang Pauh Declaration? What was it all about? Many Malaysians were not politically awoken on 12 September 1998 and probably never heard of the Permatang Pauh Declaration.

Slightly over one year ago another declaration was launched. This is called the People’s Declaration. Probably more people have heard of this declaration although there would still be many who are totally ignorant of what the People’s Declaration is all about.

The Permatang Pauh Declaration was Anwar’s declaration to the rakyat of Malaysia. The People’s Declaration was a declaration by the civil society movements, which was endorsed and adopted by seven political parties, Pakatan Rakyat included.

Today, I want Anwar and Pakatan Rakyat to renew their vows. Let the Permatang Pauh Declaration and the People’s Declaration become the foundation of the Penanti by-election. While the People’s Declaration was born in the Blog House in Kuala Lumpur, the Permatang Pauh Declaration was born where the Penanti by-election is going to be held.

Read the Permatang Pauh Declaration below. And read the People’s Declaration here ( During the Penanti by-election campaign we want to hear these two Declarations chanted over and over again or else be prepared to face the wrath of the voters.

Anwar Ibrahim and Dr Mansor Othman, the people have spoken. Do not take us for granted. So many times in the past we have heard manis mulut talk whenever you needed our votes. Our votes do not come cheap. Our votes come with a price. Are you prepared to pay that price? Let us hear it in Penanti.


Anwar Ibrahim launching the Permatang Pauh Declaration on 12 September 1998


Being conscious of the Quranic injunction, which urges striving towards betterment;

And inspired by the Asian traditions, which all encourage renewal for the individual and for society;

And acknowledging that Malaysia is in the grip of a terrible crisis and requires recourse to its inner strengths in order to rise again,

We, the citizens of Malaysia of all cultural and religious backgrounds, are determined to launch a movement for comprehensive reform:

A reform movement shining with a light radiating from aspiring and pure hearts; from the awareness that man is truly noble and free, with rights and responsibilities, that it is a sacrilege to abuse and denigrate any man or woman, to bind and restrict any man or woman without following the due process of just laws;

A reform movement to establish justice for all, the weak and strong, the rich and poor, to preserve the institutions and processes of law from the defilement of graft and abuse of power;

A reform movement to sanctify the power of the people through democratic means, for democracy is an imperative: man's instinct for justice makes democracy a possibility, but the existence of tendencies to oppress makes it a necessity;

A reform movement that champions economic justice, one that advocates fairness in economic growth and distribution so that the rich do not get richer at the expense of the poor, for the world has enough for everyone, but too little to satisfy everyone's greed;

A reform movement to eradicate graft and abuse of power, to strip the opulent and greedy clique of their power to manipulate the market;

A reform movement to reinforce a dynamic cultural identity, where faith in our noble cultural traditions is intact, but there is openness to all that is good in all traditions;

A reform movement to launch the Malaysian nation into the information age and the borderless world, encouraging wisdom, self-assurance and openness towards a global friendship based on the principles of truth and justice.

We launch this reform movement as a peaceful movement, in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution and in observance of the principles of the rule of law.

The hour has come. Unite for Reformasi.

Permatang Pauh
12 September 1998


Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail launching ADIL, the forerunner to Parti Keadilan Nasional, which was launched on 4 April 1999

Bahasa Malaysia Translation: Deklarasi Permatang Pauh

Menyedari gesaan al-Quran yang bermaksud “tidaklah kami mahu melainkan untuk melakukan islah sekuat daya kami”;

Dan berilhamkan tradisi budaya-budaya Asia yang keseluruhannya menganjurkan pembaharuan diri dan masyarakat;

Dan menginsafi bahawa Malaysia kini dicengkam kemelut yang dahsyat dan memerlukan kekuatan dalaman untuk bangun semula;

Maka kami rakyat Malaysia yang berbilang bangsa dan agama bertekat untuk melancarkan gerakan reformasi yang menyeluruh:

* Gerakan reformasi yang terpancar perjuangan hati nurani, dari kesedaran bahawa sesungguhnya diri manusia itu mulia dan merdeka, mempunyai hak dan tanggungjawab, diri manusia haram dizalimi dan diaibkan, haram di belenggu dan disekat tanpa mengikut proses dan undang-undang yang adil;

* Gerakan reformasi untuk menegakkan keadilan untuk semua, yang kuat dan yang lemah, yang kaya dan yang miskin; membersihkan institusi dan proses undang-undang dari dicemari oleh penyalahgunaan kuasa dan rasuah;

* Gerakan reformasi untuk mendaulatkan kuasa rakyat melalui proses demokrasi. Democrasi itu satu kemestian, kerana semangat keadilan yang ada dalam diri manusia membolehkan demokrasi dilaksana, tetapi kecenderungan manusia untuk berlaku zalim menjadikan demokrasi satu kewajipan;

* Gerakan reformasi untuk memperjuangkan keadilan ekonomi, menjana pertumbuhan dan pengagihan yang saksama, jangan yang kaya bertambah kaya yang miskin papa kedana. Dunia ini mencukupi untuk keperluan semua, tetapi tidak mencukupi untuk memenuhi kerakusan individu;

* Gerakan reformasi untuk membanteras rasuah dan penyalahgunaan kuasa, mengikis manipulasi pasaran oleh segelintir golongan rakus dan mahakaya;

* Gerakan reformasi untuk memperkukuhkan jayadiri budaya yang dinamis, setia kepada warisan bangsa yang murni dan terbuka kepada segala yang baik dari semua budaya;

* Gerakan reformasi untuk membawa bangsa Malaysia ke zaman maklumat dan dunia tanpa sempadan, menjana kebijaksanaan, keyakinan dan keterbukaan untuk menjalin persahabatan sejagat berdasarkan prinsip kebenaran dan keadilan.

Kami akan menggerakkan reformasi ini dengan aman, mengikut semangat perlembagaan dan bernafaskan prinsip pemerintahan undang-undang.

Masanya telah tiba. Bersatulah untuk reformasi.