So you want to rumble, let’s rumble (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)

Anwar Ibrahim admitted that he made a serious mistake in choosing the candidates in the last general election. But he qualifies this mistake by saying that it was because they were not able to find good candidates.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Nik Nazmi (article below) is not the only one who, over the last few days, wrote about the ‘third force’. Many other political analysts have done the same. Maybe it is time that I reply to some of these criticisms.

We from the civil society movements (Bloggers and political activists included) launched Barisan Rakyat before even Pakatan Rakyat was mooted. At that time there was a clear and present danger that PKR, DAP and PAS may not see eye to eye and may engage each other in three- or four-corner fights — like they did in the two general elections before that (and with disastrous results, may I add).

Barisan Rakyat wanted to unite the three squabbling opposition parties and get them to agree on a common and joint election manifesto — The People’s Voice and The People’s Declaration.

We invited all Malaysian political parties to attend the launching ceremony and endorse these two documents. Only six came and none of them were from Barisan Nasional.

Invariably, therefore, The People’s Voice and The People’s Declaration became an ‘opposition’ election manifesto due to the absence of the 14 Barisan Nasional parties.

At that time, we did not call Barisan Rakyat a ‘third force’. But that was what it was — a gathering of civil society movements, Bloggers and political activists.

Then, back in 2008, when they needed our votes, they supported the third force called Barisan Rakyat. Today, now that they think they will soon be marching into Putrajaya to form the new Federal Government, they thumb their noses and look down on the third force.

The Malays say: kacang lupakan kulit. You have forgotten the role that the third force played in the 2008 general election. None of us contested the general election. We were not interested even if we had been asked to. And we still do not wish to contest the next general election even if you get down on your hands and knees and beg us to. But we toured the length and breadth of Malaysia to campaign for the opposition candidates. And we also campaigned in every by-election since.

Are you now getting too big for your britches? You no longer need us, is it? Well, just say so. Anwar Ibrahim already declared that we are outsiders. We do not belong and therefore should stay out and not interfere.

That is well and fine with me. The Malays also say: hidung tak mancung, pipi tersorong-sorong.

“If anything’s anything, a third party would simply split the vote of Malaysians who want to see real change. To me therefore (and I may be wrong about this), the only effect a third party would have in Malaysia would be to simply ensure the continuance of Barisan Nasional’s rule. Or is that the point?” said Nik Nazmi.

Yes, when we support you, we are great, fantastic, patriots, wonderful Malaysians, and whatnot. But when we criticise you, we are Trojan Horses, Barisan Nasional agents, we want to sabotage the opposition to allow Barisan Nasional to rule forever, etc.

Brader, we have been opposition since the 1970s, long before Anwar Ibrahim joined Umno in the 1980s. Anwar betrayed the cause by joining Umno and yet we forgave him and treated him as our comrade. And when he was ousted from Umno and sent to jail, it was we who stood by him and fought for him and suffered jail and detention without trial since 1998.

Long before many of you were even in politics and were still in school we have done what we could to bring Barisan Nasional to its knees and see the emergence of a strong opposition and a viable two-party system in Malaysia.

That mission and vision has not changed one bit. We are still committed to what we were committed to back in the 1970s, 35 years or so ago. Only the method now needs to change. And it needs to change because you in the opposition are proving to be bumbling fools.

We still want the political parties to endorse The People’s Voice and The People’s Declaration and take that as the election manifesto. They endorsed it in 2008 and they never unendorsed it since. So what has changed? Nothing!

You have forgotten one thing. Power can come from the barrel of the gun. Power can also come through the ballot box. The people decide if you have power or not. All we want to do is to remind you that the people are the boss. The people gave you that power. THE PEOPLE ARE THAT THIRD FORCE THAT YOU LOOK DOWN UPON WITH CONTEMPT AND DISGUST! GET IT?

Power has got to your head. You forgot who made you. And you forgot that he who makes you can also break you. We hired you; we can also fire you. That is how it works. And if you don’t like it, tough!

Yes, we too want to see a strong two-party system. But it is not carte blanche. You are not King and Emperor. You are the people’s representative, the wakil rakyat. So we will decide how you run this country.

Anwar Ibrahim admitted that he made a serious mistake in choosing the candidates in the last general election. But he qualifies this mistake by saying that it was because they were not able to find good candidates.

We responded in our meeting with him by agreeing to help the opposition find good candidates from amongst the civil society movements. Now our effort is being mocked.

So be it. If you don’t need our help just say so. We are not forcing you to accept candidates we propose. If you can do well enough without our help, well and fine. If you want us to stay out of your affairs just say so. Just give the word. Tell us to fuck off and we will. Then you will never hear from us again.

You do your thing and we will do ours. No need for us to become a pain in you arse any longer. But just remember one thing. No longer will the people vote based on promises like back in 2008. No longer will the people vote for your party even if you field monkeys as candidates. This time around the people are going to scrutinise the candidates and vote for them only if they meet the criteria.

So good luck in the next general election.


Let’s Perfect the Two-Party System First

Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad

I am currently visiting Britain for a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference. Part of my trip will also include meetings with Malaysian students and expatriates all over the country.

As you probably know, I’m a UK graduate — from King’s College London — and so it’s always good to meet other young Malaysians who are pursuing their studies abroad as I did, or starting their careers. Back then, opposition-leaning students had to organise meetings covertly out of fear of reprisal.

It’s good to see therefore that the various Malaysian societies who host me now do so openly. As a matter of fact, the talk I gave in Warwick was hosted by the local Umno Club!

The young Malaysians I met, like their compatriots back home, are bright, talented and passionate about their homeland. One can only wish them well and hope that they will someday return to enrich our nation in turn.

Many of them have asked about the state of Pakatan Rakyat, and the troubles we’ve had lately. Their questions often remind me that I have to be at my best at all times. They also remind me that Pakatan has a long way to go on the road to Putrajaya.

That the last couple of months have been hard for Pakatan, especially Keadilan, is an understatement. We’ve suffered from several by-election losses and no small amount of internal problems.

Keadilan’s decision to hold its party elections on a one-member, one-vote system was historic but it has been hit by various technical problems and overinflated egos. It must also be admitted Pakatan hasn’t yet offered up a dynamic alternative to the comfortable, but ultimately fatal mediocrity that characterises Umno/BN’s style of government.

Also, it doesn’t help that certain establishment figures are determined to find fault with whatever we do. When Malaysians complain of state governments “not doing anything”, one sometimes wonder whether they are aware of how centralised power has become in Malaysia.

Most financial, security and oversight powers reside in the federal government. If it chooses to withhold its co-operation from certain states — as it has for those served by Pakatan — the ability to effect substantive reform there is severely limited. Such a situation will continue until and unless Malaysians elect a government that is willing to respect the spirit of federalism.

But I digress: Pakatan has been able to achieve much since 2008, but we ought to be doing much better. We definitely need to pull up our socks and realise that the wave that brought our candidates to office more than two years ago can just as easily knock them back. Believe me when I say that Pakatan is not unmindful of this and are working to improve ourselves.

For all the attacks on us by the establishment media, Pakatan has made great strides forward as a coalition. Keadilan, DAP and PAS are all committed to centrist, multi-racial politics: there will be no going back on this for us. We realise taking back Putrajaya for the people requires the support of all Malaysians, and not just our core supporter bases.

The initial problems aside, Keadilan’s elections have and will in the future provide our party leadership with greater legitimacy: better than any party that relies on backroom negotiations and “money politics.” Our leaders are truly elected, unlike certain politicians.

The party elections have brought out better grassroots leaders, of all ages, genders and ethnicities. They will provide us with candidates for the next elections, and will more than make up for the defectors and non-performers Malaysians have had to put up with. The decision of our leadership to trust the wisdom of the ordinary members has paid off.

Despite the sabotage and obstruction, Pakatan has achieved a lot in the states we serve. We’ve had a convention and launched a Common Policy Framework that clearly sets out the agenda of a Pakatan federal government. We stand by this document and it will form the basis of our manifesto in the next general election.

It will take time but Pakatan is well on the way to shaping up as a viable alternative to Barisan Nasional, towards the two-party (or rather two-coalition) system of politics we’ve all been waiting for.

The problem, however, is that people get impatient. Taking a leaf from Britain and Australia, there’s been a nascent movement in Malaysia’s blogsphere to forge a third party to contest the next general election in order to become kingmakers.

Romantic notions notwithstanding, it’s not clear, at least to me, how much difference a “third party” could make in Malaysian politics. Third parties are supposed to draw support away from both “established” parties.

The partisans of this line do not seem to have any ideas on how to crack open Malaysia’s rural heartlands, i.e. where Umno’s source of power lies. They have no real vision for winning votes from Barisan, and indeed seem to only want to punish Pakatan because certain of their idols did not get their way.

They are also fond of citing the “success” of the Liberal Democrats in the recent UK elections. Here’s a reality check: the Lib Dems are now lingering at about nine per cent in popular support, having been blamed for the harsh policies of their Conservative coalition partners.

If anything’s anything, a third party would simply split the vote of Malaysians who want to see real change. To me therefore (and I may be wrong about this), the only effect a third party would have in Malaysia would be to simply ensure the continuance of Barisan Nasional’s rule.

Or is that the point?

Malaysians deserve so much more from their politicians; I will be the first to admit. But trying to set up a “third force” will definitely not make things better.

Pakatan holds the promise to become the party of change, the political arm of the Malaysian people. It needs your support to live up to its potential.


Translated into Chinese at: