Just shooting the breeze

My objectives remain the same. My mission and vision have not changed. I still want to see Malaysians transform into an informed voting population who may vote for either Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, I don’t really care which, but they do so fully aware of why they are doing so.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Five years ago, today, Malaysia Today was launched. Yes, that’s right; Malaysia Today was born on 13 August 2004.

Why 13 August 2004, you might ask. Well, first of all, 13 August 2004 was Friday the 13th and I just love to tempt fate.

I mean, many consider Friday the 13th as a bad fungshui day and they would never start anything on a Friday the 13th. Hey, I’m not joking. If you start something on Friday the 13th you may suffer bad luck such as getting arrested a few times or getting detained under the Internal Security Act or getting sued many times or something like that.

Hmm…..come to think of it, all that did happen to me.

Anyway, back in the old days in England many would not even come out of their homes on Friday the 13th. They would stay indoors until the cock crows to announce the arrival of Saturday the 14th.

Of course, this is merely old wives’ tales and superstition. And to prove this is unfounded superstition they laid the keel of a ship on Friday the 13th. They launched the completed ship on Friday the 13th. They named the ship ‘Friday the 13th’. The ship set sail on its maiden voyage on Friday the 13th. This was so that they can prove that the Friday the 13th taboo is mere hogwash and unfounded superstition.

The ship sailed away and was never seen again.

Some say Friday the 13th is associated with the Last Supper, which was held on Friday and that there were 13 people at that supper, Jesus and his 12 disciples. That is why the number 13 is considered an unlucky number and Friday the 13th unluckier still. But then if you were to read the book The Thirteenth Apostle by Michel Benoit it talks about there being 13 disciples at that Last Supper, the owner of the house being the 13th, which means the Last Supper had 14 and not 13 people.

I wonder why no Christians have made police reports or organised protest demonstrations. This is clearly ‘insulting’ Christianity, especially when the book says that Jesus was actually propagating a return to the correct Jewish faith and that it is the Nazarenes and not the Catholics who hold true to the Jewish religion of Jesus.

Anyway, this book is a work of fiction although very close to real history. It is a sort of dramatised version of real events. I recommend it to those who want to mess up their mind, like what has happened to mine. Be warned though, you read this book at your own peril, especially Muslims, as there is a short reference to Muhammad and about how he got his verses from a ‘Jewish’ Nazarene priest. The name of this Jewish Nazarene priest is not mentioned in the book but one can suspect it could have been Warakah, the cousin of Muhammad’s wife, Khatijah.

Warakah, however, is reported to have been a Coptic Christian. At that time the Nazarenes had to seek the safety of the Arabian Peninsular, as they were classified as deviants and would be put to death if they remained in Christendom. The Sirah and Hadith talk a lot about the interaction between the pagan Arabs, Muhammad included in the days before the revelation, and the Coptic Christians or Nazarenes. The Koran, in fact, makes many references to the Nazarenes who are accepted by Islam as true ‘People of the Book’.

This book also talks about how Muhammad’s verses were compiled at the time of Osman and that they called it the Koran. This shatters the Muslim belief that the verses of the Koran came to Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel. So, as I said, be warned that you sail into uncharted territory if you choose to read this book, both for Christians as well as Muslims, as it will shake the very foundation of your beliefs.

Okay, enough digressing. The issue being discussed today is that Malaysia Today was launched on Friday the 13th in August 2004. And we chose this day not because of the Last Supper but because this was the day Anwar Ibrahim was supposed to have been released from prison. But the court postponed the hearing and instead he was released about two weeks later on 2 September 2004.

One of the first articles I wrote for Malaysia Today was the story about Anwar being released with a two-one verdict in his favour. I mentioned the name of the one judge who would rule in opposition to Anwar’s release.

A couple of days later I received a phone call from one of Anwar’s lawyers who requested to meet. He had just come out from meeting Anwar in the Sungai Buloh Prison.

He told me that Anwar knew about that article and was very unhappy. In fact, all the lawyers were also unhappy because they do not believe Anwar will ever see freedom. I told this lawyer that once I publish something I would never retract that article. The article stays even how unhappy Anwar may be.

Well, on 2 September 2004 Anwar was released as what I had written. That same day I received a phone call that Anwar wanted to see me. But I refused to go and see him. The next day they phoned again but I still refused to go and see Anwar. On the third day, Datuk Kamarul phoned and requested that I go and meet Anwar. He is leaving for Germany, Datuk Kamarul said, and he wants to meet me before he leaves.

I always give Datuk Kamarul ‘face’ so for his sake I went to meet Anwar. Datuk Kamarul was waiting outside Anwar’s house when I arrived and he brought me in to meet Anwar.

Alamak! Susah sungguh nak jumpa anak raja ni,” said Anwar. “Kena banyak kali panggil baru datang.”

I gave Anwar a very cold look and replied, “I thought you are angry with me for writing that you are going to be freed.”

Datuk Kamarul added, “I told you that you are going to be freed. So is what Pet wrote correct or not?” Datuk Kamarul wanted to rub it in.

Anwar explained that he was worried what I had written may be construed as contempt of court and that they could arrest me and charge me for that. He added that the Chief Justice actually tried, even up to the eleventh hour, to get the decision reversed. That is why the hearing started late. However, since the story of Anwar’s release was already all over the Internet and that the decision was two-one in favour of Anwar, the judges did not dare amend their judgement, which had already been written.

Anyway, back to the 2nd of September, the day of Anwar’s release.

As soon as word broke that Anwar had been released there were cheers and jubilation outside the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya. Hardly had the noise subsided when I received a phone call from the BBC. The BBC too had heard that Anwar had been released and they wanted to know what my next move was.

I was at that time the Director of the Free Anwar Campaign and the webmaster of freeanwar.com. The BBC wanted to know now that Anwar has been released and there is no longer a need for a Free Anwar Campaign what am I going to do next?

It was a live phone interview and my reply was, “It took six years to secure Anwar’s release. We no longer need a Free Anwar Campaign now that Anwar is free. But Malaysians are not yet free. Malaysians are still imprisoned. What took us six years to secure Anwar’s release may take us 60 years to see Malaysians being freed from imprisonment. I may never see this in my lifetime but at least I can plant the seeds of the ‘Free Malaysians Campaign’, which may happen long after I have left this world. But at least my grandchildren will benefit even though I will never live to see it.”

“What do you mean exactly by a ‘Free Malaysians Campaign’?” asked the BBC.

“Malaysians are being shackled. They are not being allowed to think. They are being imprisoned in their minds. We need to free Malaysians from the mental bondage that they are currently being subjected to. And this is what I mean by a ‘Free Malaysians Campaign’. Malaysia Today’s mission and vision is to teach Malaysians how to think and show Malaysians how to rid themselves of the shackles that are imprisoning their minds. Only when Malaysians dare think, question and challenge will they be truly free of this mental bondage.”

The BBC interview continued and I explained that the recent general election in March 2004 demonstrated that Malaysians are being kept in the dark about many things. That was why they voted the way they did in March 2004, giving Barisan Nasional more than 90% of the seats. Malaysians need to know the truth. Barisan Nasional can still form the government but it should not be with more than 90% of the seats. It should not even be with a two-thirds majority. At the most the ruling party, whoever that may be, must be given only 55% of the seats while the opposition must control 45% of the seats.

In short, we should see a two-party system emerge where the ruling party and the opposition have 55%-45% of the seats respectively. And maybe every two or three elections we switch parties so that the opposition can try its hand as the ruling party while the ruling party is sent into the opposition aisle for two or three terms to learn what it is like to be the opposition.

A two-party system will certainly be beneficial to Malaysia, as we will no longer see the hegemony of one party for more than 50 years like now. Furthermore, when these parties know that the voters are not going to give them a clear two-thirds majority but will instead swing from one party to another every two or three elections these politicians will behave and not take the voters for granted any longer. Imagine two parties falling over one another in trying to please us and to win our votes. They would practically bow in humility and offer themselves as our servants, which is what it should actually be like.

I am just shooting the breeze here of course, on the Fifth Anniversary of Malaysia Today’s ‘founding’ on 13 August 2004, Friday the 13th. Much water has passed under the bridge since. But my objectives remain the same. My mission and vision have not changed. I still want to see Malaysians transform into an informed voting population who may vote for either Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, I don’t really care which, but they do so fully aware of why they are doing so.

This is a revolution. But it is a mental revolution. Free your minds. Remove the shackles. Break out of this mental bondage that you have been subjected to for more than 50 years. Become an informed voting population. And treat voting as not just your right but also your duty. Join us in achieving the aspirations of a ‘Free Malaysians Campaign’.