All great men make great mistakes (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)

It is sad that great men take great pains to lift themselves to great heights of power only to self-destruct because they can’t face the truth and would rather receive pleasure from the court jesters.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Napoleon did it. Hitler did it. They both fought on two fronts at the same time — the Eastern Front and the Western Front. And both paid dearly for their folly. Hitler had to commit suicide in his bunker while Napoleon died from arsenic poisoning while sleeping in his bunk.

And is Anwar Ibrahim about to embark on the same tragic journey of all these great men, amongst who are people like Alexander the Great — who also pressed the self-destruct button — by also opening up two fronts?

Anwar is not happy with my last article that said he is more valuable dead than alive. Well, I have news for Anwar. I, or Malaysia Today, am not here to please him. We are not in the business of making Anwar Ibrahim happy. We are in the business of revealing the truth that the powers-that-be would rather remain hidden and to save the country from those who would destroy it.

And there is one more ‘community service’ that we perform. And that is to make sure the people we voted into office fulfil the mandate the voters gave them and to save the leaders from themselves.

Yes, that’s right, while we try to save the country from its own leaders we also need to save the leaders from themselves.  Alexander the Great failed because he thought he was infallible and, therefore, refused to take advice from anyone.  When people around him criticised him he killed them off, even his closest generals and childhood friends.

So, they would tell him things he would like to hear rather than things he should hear. At least this makes the boss happy and you get to keep your head on your shoulders. Is it not in the Greek tradition to kill the messenger? This was what Claudius said when his general brought him bad news. “Thank the Gods I am not Greek,” he said. “Or else the bad news you bring me would mean your certain death.”

They also tell us to beware of Greeks bearing gifts. This saying, of course, is tied to the story of the Trojan Horse. Sometimes, the ‘gift’ may be a Red Herring meant to bring about your downfall. So, if someone brings you the ‘gift’ of good news when it should have instead been bad news, beware of this ‘Greek’.

The majority of great leaders throughout history love to surround themselves with people who can bring them glad tidings. Only a very few would keep those bearers of good news at a safe distance. It is probably a natural instinct of humankind to enjoy being told how great they are and to be showered with praise.

Anwar has enough of these court jesters surrounding him. Court jesters make a living from making fools of themselves, purely for the boss’s entertainment. I am no court jester and neither is Malaysia Today. If you do right, we keep quiet. Only when you do wrong do we open our mouths. That means our silence speaks volumes for what you are doing and no further praise is required from us. Would I be accurate in saying that no news means good news?

And today we want to bring you bad news. You are not going to get good news from us. And the bad news is Anwar is travelling down the same road as Napoleon and Hitler by fighting on two fronts. If even Napoleon and Hitler failed, what makes Anwar think he will not?

Anwar, in fact, is embarking on an even bigger folly. While Napoleon and Hitler opened two fronts — and died because of it — Anwar is opening three fronts. What chance of success can Anwar expect when he does not have enough resources to fight on just one front, let alone three fronts?

Anwar has to face the mighty Barisan Nasional, which in itself is a mammoth task. Sure, David slew Goliath. However, while Barisan Nasional may be a Goliath, are you a David?

Then Anwar has to face the court and get through his Sodomy 2 trial in one piece. The people in Umno are already celebrating Anwar’s incarceration even as you read this and even before the trial can start at 2.30pm today. What do they know that we do not? We should brace ourselves and prepare for the worst. We should plan on the premise that Anwar is going to jail. And if he does not then we treat that as a bonus.

And as if these two fronts are not enough, Anwar may have to fight a third front, the worst front of all — an internal civil war.

The three Zs are soon to be called before the PKR Disciplinary Board — Zulkilfi, Zahrain and Zaid. There are those in Anwar’s inner circle like Azmin Ali who wants Zulkifli and Zahrain pardoned but Zaid sacked.

Zaid’s ‘crime’ is to criticise the party’s handling of the Zulkifli issue. To Alexander, Napoleon and Hitler, criticism is never tolerated. And to another great man called Anwar, this also applies, at least as far as his inner circle is concerned.

Zulkilfi’s and Zahrain’s crimes are of course more serious. But then they are to be forgiven because for more than ten years they have served Anwar well  — Zulkifli as one of the lawyers in the Sodomy 1 trial and Zahrain as the PKR ‘sleeper’ in Umno Penang.

Those who serve Anwar personally can get away with murder. Those who only serve the party but not Anwar personally must die. Is this the message Anwar would like to send to the Malaysian public? How would the public perceive Anwar as opposed to Najib where the only difference between the two is the spelling of their names?

And what would happen if Zaid feels slighted and decides to leave before the party can sack him? I would do that. In fact, I have done exactly that, which resulted in the birth of Malaysia Today.

The problem Anwar would face would not be just about Zaid leaving. It would be about the Internet community, Bloggers, and civil society movements shifting their alliances and loyalty.

No doubt there are many who feel that the Internet community, Bloggers, and civil society movements are of no significance and of no threat to PKR or Pakatan Rakyat. That was exactly what Umno and Barisan Nasional said in the run-up to the 8 March 2008 general election.

Anwar’s inner circle is of the opinion that the Sodomy 2 trial is going to be an uphill battle. To yet again indict Anwar for sodomy is foolhardy unless you can be assured of a conviction. The talk amongst this inner circle is that Najib is not that stupid to start a fight that he cannot possibly end up winning.

Anwar’s inner circle is also working on the premise that if Anwar pulls through it should be treated as a bonus. The game plan must be based on the assumption that Anwar will fall. And in that case the game plan must take into consideration the succession.

Was not the beginning of the end for Rome the day when the democracy was replaced by a hereditary? The day the sons and inner circle inherited the throne was the day the Empire began to crumble. And was not the height of this decline the day the Emperor celebrated as Rome burned? Are we to celebrate the destruction of PKR even before it can come to fruition?

And this is the crux of the move to sack Zaid — or at least to provoke him to leave. Assume Anwar will be sent to jail. Then assume a new leader must emerge. But this leader must not be Zaid. So, Zaid must be brought down before Anwar himself is brought down. And was this not also the cause of the Ezam Mohd Nor versus Azmin Ali conflict — Cain and Abel both fighting to be the favoured son?

Azmin and William Leong would like to see Zaid removed so that the field is clear for one of the inner circle to take the baton when the cell door finally closes on Anwar. Zaid is competition and competition must be eliminated. But they are cutting the roots to get at the fruit. And there is no surer way of killing the tree than this.

Two fronts are difficult enough. With Umno and Barisan Nasional on the one front and the manipulated judicial system on the other, Anwar is going to have his hands full for the next year or two. How would he handle this third front about to emerge?

Anwar should note that those who criticise him or the party have his interest at heart while those who praise him do so for their personal gain and not for the good of the party. And would Anwar kill one and elevate the other onto a pedestal?

Great leaders throughout history have done this — and paid for it with their lives. So, I suppose, Anwar, being also a great leader, will probably do the same.

It is sad that great men take great pains to lift themselves to great heights of power only to self-destruct because they can’t face the truth and would rather receive pleasure from the court jesters.


Translated into Chinese at: