Ripping to shreds Shamsul Akmar’s arguments (UPDATED with Chinese and BM Translation)


So how does Shamsul come across whacking DAP for being feudalistic when the Grand Old Man of Malaysian politics said that this is what is the problem with the Malays? It is like a prostitute accusing Paris Hilton of being a woman of loose morals.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

I would like to reply to Shamsul’s article that appeared in today’s New Straits Times. You can read the full text of the article below. The parts in brackets (Point number 1, 2, 3, etc.) are my own additions for easy reference — so that you know which part of the article I am replying to.

Point number 1: Ex-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been lamenting about the problem with the Malays his entire life. His letters to First Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman (which I have already published in the Internet back in 2001-2002) and his book, The Malay Dilemma, show that his opinion of the Malays go way back to the 1960s.

During one Umno general assembly, Mahathir cried because, according to him, he was disappointed about the attitude of the Malays. When asked by a journalist soon after he retired what he would consider his greatest regret in 22 years as Prime Minister, Mahathir replied that his greatest regret is that he could not change the attitude of the Malays.

And which part of the attitude of the Malays is Mahathir so upset about? He said it in his letters to Tunku Rahman, he said it in his book, The Malay Dilemma, and he said it many times more after that.

The Malays are too feudalistic, said Mahathir. “Why can’t the Malays be more like the Chinese, pragmatic?” asked Mahathir. And one of the reasons (I said ONE of the reasons) Mahathir engaged the Rulers in two Constitutional Crises back in the 1980s were to ‘break’ the feudalistic mentality of the Malays.

But he failed. The Malays rallied behind the Rulers, not behind Umno, and Mahathir was forced to back off.

So how does Shamsul come across whacking DAP for being feudalistic when the Grand Old Man of Malaysian politics said that this is what is the problem with the Malays? It is like a prostitute accusing Paris Hilton of being a woman of loose morals.

Point number 2: Shamsul accuses DAP of being a Chinese chauvinist party. Does DAP stand for Parti Cina Malaysia like the ‘M’ in Umno stands for Malays, the ‘C’ in MCA for Chinese and the ‘I’ in MIC for Indians? The ‘D’ in DAP stands for Democratic, not Chinese.

Point number 3: ‘Middle ground’ means meet in the middle. It does not mean ‘Middle Kingdom’ like in Old China. In English, when we say we search for the middle ground, it means we look for a compromise. We meet halfway. You take one step towards us and we take one step towards you. That is how we achieve the middle ground.

In short, it is not a winner takes all and loser loses all type of situation. It is you give in and I also give in. We both sacrifice something for the sake of compromise and for the sake of meeting in the middle, the middle ground.

Point number 4: And of course DAP will never be able to do it alone, as Shamsul says. Malaysia is not about one race or one religion. Malaysia is a diversity of races and religions. But how do you achieve unity in diversity? Well, you create a ‘melting pot’ of ethnicities. So certainly DAP can’t do this alone without the support of the others.

Is this so wrong? In fact, it is the reverse of wrong, although Shamsul tries to portray this in a negative light.

Point number 5: Sure, DAP’s slogan used to be Malaysian Malaysia. But DAP realises that Malaysians do not quite grasp what it means. So that has since been dropped. In fact, it was dropped a long time ago, not only now.

What about Umno’s slogans that have changed ever so often? Now it is 1Malaysia. It used to be Islam Hadhari not too long ago. And, before that, Umno had a string of slogans such as Malaysia Inc., Look East Policy, Buy British Last, and God knows what else. There are so many I can’t even remember them all.

Point number 6: Now this is an interesting point raised by Shamsul. Is DAP’s Middle Malaysia meant to break Barisan Nasional’s domination? I certainly hope so. I would be very upset if DAP is embarking on the Middle Malaysia strategy with no intentions to break Barisan Nasional’s domination. It must always be about demolishing Barisan Nasional. It must never be about anything but that.

Point number 7: Now Shamsul laments that PAS is compromising with its other partners in Pakatan Rakyat. Well, good for PAS. I remember when Umno used to lament that PAS is so extreme and uncompromising. Now Umno complains about the reverse?

Point number 8: Maybe there are some in PAS who share the top leadership’s views about the Allah word issue while there are some who don’t, as Shamsul alleges. So what? Have you not heard of democracy? Have you not heard that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion? Have you not heard about the right to express your opinion? And you say this is bad? I say it is good. It shows that democracy exists in PAS and that members are allowed the freedom to disagree, even with the top leadership.

Point number 9: Ah, Shamsul has to be very careful here. Khalid Samad is not ‘justifying’ his support for and solidarity with DAP and PKR by quoting verses of the Quran. If the Quran says so then the Quran says so. You are not ‘justifying’ anything by following the Quran. You are just being a good Muslim. And this is a crime?

Point number 10: Okay, let us talk about the Member of Parliament for Kulim. I know him personally of course. And so does my wife, a Chinese who converted to Islam. And one day my wife whacked Zul Nordin in public.

“What kind of Muslim are you?” asked my wife. “You are a hypocrite. You are a disgrace to Islam. You should remove that white skullcap on your head.”

Zul Nordin walked away speechless. He could not reply to even a Chinese who was never born a Muslim but became a Muslim later in life. You should have seen the smile on Datuk Kamarul Bahrin’s face to see a Chinese convert take to task a so-called mujahid of Islam.

So, Shamsul, I would not use Zul Nordin as a ‘good’ example if you want to argue your case. He is court jester at best. His white skullcap is probably too tight it restricts the flow of blood to his brain.

Point number 11: There are two points here. One is about the ‘outdated’ or ‘expired’ leaders in Pakatan Rakyat. I agree with Shamsul on this one and have said the same thing many times myself. Pakatan Rakyat needs to do some spring-cleaning. But then even Umno and Barisan Nasional suffer from this same problem, not only the opposition.

And on the second point that maybe PAS, DAP and PKR should dissolve and everyone join one party, that is certainly a good idea and I have no criticism against Shamsul on this suggestion. But let us see Barisan Nasional do this first in the spirit of 1Malaysia. I am sure Pakatan Rakyat will not be too far behind once Barisan Nasional takes the lead. Would Barisan Nasional dare do what it is challenging Pakatan Rakyat to do?

Point number 12: And on the final part of Shamsul’s piece, I want to correct him on only one point. Pakatan Rakyat is NOT a multi-racial party like Barisan Nasional. It is a non-race-based coalition. Multi-racial is still racial. Pakatan Rakyat is non-race-based, which means race, even multi-racial, does not exist.

And this is what Shamsul and his Umno masters do not understand. And since they do not understand they therefore do not know how to ‘spin’ their anti-Pakatan Rakyat propaganda.

Enough said already!


Middling value in ‘Middle Malaysia’

SHAMSUL AKMAR, New Straits Times

DAP’S new remedy for the nation — Middle Malaysia, sounds quite ancient and feudal — very much like the Zhou Dynasty’s Middle Kingdom.

Even if the Middle Kingdom is attached to that which is Egyptian, it is still very feudal, a period when rulers were divine and a law unto themselves. But for most Malaysians, surely Middle Malaysia will echo that of the Chinese Middle Kingdom and not that of the Egyptian. (Point number 1)

As it is, it has already been pointed out in the blogosphere that DAP’s departure from Malaysian Malaysia to Middle Malaysia is an attempt to beguile the Malays who had rejected the former as a subtle chauvinist agenda. (Point number 2)

Whether such arguments will gain currency is anybody’s guess but the coining of the new slogan by DAP has attracted debate.

It is ironic because DAP stalwarts, its national publicity secretary, Tony Pua, for example, in promoting the Middle Malaysia idea in his blog, described it as “apt in times like this, as we swim in various parochial and fringe controversies like Allah and ketuanan Melayu”, are now themselves accused of promoting “a chauvinistic fringe concept”.

Pua, when explaining Middle Malaysia, said: “It is time to position DAP and our partners Pas and PKR as taking the middle ground where the overwhelming majority of Malaysians stand, while leaving our political enemies to take the extremist position.” (Point number 3)

It sounds very reasonable albeit rhetorical.

But the more interesting aspect about Middle Malaysia is that DAP concedes that it will not be able to achieve it on its own and that it needs the all-round support of Pas and PKR. (Point number 4)

This is unlike its Malaysian Malaysia concept which was promoted as a DAP exclusive. With the promotion of Middle Malaysia, Malaysian Malaysia may soon be a slogan of the past. (Point number 5)

The first question now is whether this Middle Malaysia will be embraced wholeheartedly by DAP’s partners.

The next is whether Middle Malaysia is the formula to break Barisan Nasional’s domination. (Point number 6)

While PKR may just adopt anything, which can undermine or diminish Umno and BN, the same cannot be said about Pas.

Pas has, since the taste of the 2008 general election bounty, shown its preparedness to compromise on issues, which used to be its raison d’etre such as the Islamic state and hudud, but on several occasions struggled to keep abreast of its secular and liberal partners. (Point number 7)

Even in the Herald issue, Pas leaders have been unable to commit themselves to whether they agree on the use of the word “Allah” by those of other faiths. (Point number 8)

There are those within their midst like MP for Shah Alam Khalid Samad who has shown his eagerness to be aligned with DAP and PKR in much of their political stance, justifying his action with Quranic verses and Prophetic traditions. (Point number 9)

For that matter, even in PKR, the MP for Kulim Bandar Baru has on several occasions shown that he was opposed to the pursuits of DAP and his party. (Point number 10)

Before the DAP can “sell” its Middle Malaysia to the rest of Malaysians, their partners would have to get their act together and remove their leaders who are still stuck in various parochial and fringe political principles.

Another question begging for an answer is if DAP can convince PKR in embracing Middle Malaysia — would not the separate entities become redundant, if not overlapping?

As it is, most of DAP’s pronouncements are either echoed by PKR or similarly trumpeted. If Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) could see this and decide to embrace PKR, surely, sooner or later, either PKR or DAP must come to such a conclusion.

The only difference between the two parties now is that DAP has more non-Malays while PKR has more Malays and if they both decide to blur the racial identities, they should be able to exist as one and helm the Middle Malaysia together and not separately. (Point number 11)

But it is doubtful that Pas can ever be with the others unless DAP and PKR accept its leadership and subscribe to some of its ideological principles.

Then, it can be wondered aloud if Pas will be accused of subscribing to parochial and fringe interests.

On the part of the BN, it will never be able to be one as it was formed as a coalition of separate entities intending to pursue separate interests.

That has been its strength and its bane depending on the ebb and flow of domestic politics.

If the respective races they represent are comfortable, even if not necessarily pleased, with the distribution and equation, then the coalition is in good stead.

That has been the formula since the days of the Alliance and the succeeding BN.

The acceptance of BN over the years is actually quite a feat given the fact that it is not ideology-driven unless its pragmatism is considered one.

Otherwise, it is a political bargaining by party elites and adjustments are made where and when necessary.

While detractors are accusing BN of being too immersed in race politics, the BN components have existed because each race wanted them to represent its interests.

BN is actually a reflection of what the Malaysian races are all about — the want for race-based privileges be they in economy, or in education.

If the Malay/Bumiputeras want their privileges in scholarships and other economic ventures, the non-Bumiputeras want their race-based education to be protected and defended.

For as long as the different races in the country feel that their needs and interests are best pursued by the politicians and political parties representing their race, the BN concept remains the most viable though not necessarily ideal.

Their detractors, though styling themselves as multiracial are never far away from pursuing these racial interests in their political quests.

The only difference is that the BN admits it is a congregation of race-based parties while their opponents proclaim themselves to be the epitome of multiracial virtues.

And how dare anyone equate Middle Malaysia with the Middle Kingdom. (Point number 12)


Translated into Chinese at:

Translated into BM at: