The ends can’t justify the means (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)

We can’t compromise on moral conduct. We also can’t close our eyes to the proper moral code and argue that we change the government first and then address these issues later once the government has changed.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

I am very concerned about the comments by some of our readers, which reflects their attitude. Many display the ‘we must win by hook or by crook’ mentality. Is that what it has been reduced to? Winning the elections whatever it takes, by fair means or foul?

That was how it was in the last general election in 2008. And where has that got us today? Are not many of the problems facing us due to this attitude? We grumble about the Pakatan frogs. But is not the Pakatan frog problem due to the policy of ‘never mind who the candidates are as long as they are Pakatan candidates? We shall vote Pakatan even if they field a monkey as a candidate’?

You talk about breaking the Barisan Nasional hegemony. You talk about changing the federal government. I too have been talking about the same thing and have been doing so since 35 years ago from back in the mid-1970s.

We can’t adopt the ends justify the means attitude — even how much we wish to kick out Barisan Nasional and change the government. That is Umno’s attitude — and if we are just like Umno then why the need to change the government? More importantly, would we not also face the same problems that Umno is facing if we are just like them?

Let me demonstrate one example. On 11 May 1969, Malaysia held its third general election. Out of 144 seats contested, the Alliance Party won 95 and the opposition won 49, resulting in the ruling party losing its two-thirds majority in Parliament. In terms of popular votes the ruling party garnered less than 50%. The opposition won Penang and Kelantan hands down and checkmated the ruling party in Perak and Selangor, almost like what happened in 2008.

Basically, the Alliance Party of Umno, MCA and MIC were given a thrashing. Umno was desperate. It needed to regain power by hook or by crook. The number two, Tun Razak Hussein, also needed to oust the number one, Tunku Abdul Rahman, whom they blamed for the poor election result.

To Umno it was a noble cause. They needed to regain Malay political power. And they had to do this by hook or by crook. The ends will have to justify the means. And we all know what that ‘means’ was. The 13 May 1969 race riot is a well-documented event and no one has any reservations as to why the May 13 riots were triggered.

To us non-Umno people, we might view this as a tragedy. To the Umno diehards May 13 was necessary for Umno’s survival. The ends justify the means. There is nothing immoral about that.

So you see, where do we draw the line? When we are guided by ‘everything is fair in love and war’ where is our moral code? And if we adopt the same code of conduct as Umno does, how can we grumble about May 13? May 13 was good for Umno. It was moral as far as Umno is concerned. We should salute Umno for being able to grab victory from the jaws of defeat by engineering a race riot. It was a brilliant move. This is what Machiavellian politics is all about.

Yes, we want to change the government. We want to break Barisan Nasional’s hegemony. But there is a right way and a wrong way of doing that. Barisan Nasional is doing it the wrong way. We have to be better than that. We must do it the right way.

But I hear the chatter in Malaysia Today and many do not care whether it is the right way or the wrong way. Kick out Barisan Nasional first. Never mind how we do it. Let it be the wrong way if need be. Later, after Pakatan Rakyat has formed the new government, we will address the issue of moral code. Later, once the government has changed, we will tackle the defects in Pakatan Rakyat and correct the shortcomings.

This is what I am hearing.

Was that not what we did in 1999? And what happened? The opposition coalition broke up soon after that and in the following election in 2004 they suffered a beating.

Way back in 1999 we were already not comfortable with the loose coalition called Barisan Alternatif. We were also not happy that while Barisan Alternatif had their Joint Election Manifesto they also had their individual party manifestos. So there were five election manifestos — one for Barisan Alternatif and one each for PKN, DAP, PAS and PRM.

We wanted to see a registered and legal coalition like Barisan Nasional. Barisan Alternatif was not a marriage. It was an affair. They should ‘get married’ by registering Barisan Alternatif. Also, they should have only one manifesto, the Barisan Alternatif Joint Election Manifesto, and no other manifestos besides that.

We tried to make them listen but our suggestions fell on deaf ears. I wrote all sorts of articles and was very vocal about the matter. You can read these articles in the English Section of Harakah circa 1999. And the rest, as they say, is all now water under the bridge.

2004 was chaos. There were so many disputes and three-corner fights mainly because there was no longer any opposition coalition to speak of. Many opposition candidates not only lost but lost their deposits as well.

Yes, sometimes we are very critical of the opposition. But we have reason to be very vocal and critical. We have seen the ups and downs of the opposition. In 1990 they did well. In 1994 they did badly. In 1999 they did well. In 2004 they did badly. In 2008 they did well. What do you think the next election is going to be like?

Up one election, down the next. Then up the next election, and down the next again. This is what I fear we may see. And this is what frightens me.

Fine, in 2008 we did not care a damn whom the opposition fielded as candidates. We also did not care about moral code and other issues related to morality. We just wanted to kick out Barisan Nasional. Is this enough? Will the next election carry the opposition just on the sentiments of kicking out Barisan Nasional? Or do the voters expect more than that?

The voters are wiser now than in the old days. Today, many of the voters are able to think and rationalise. They will no longer accept bad over worse. They demand better than that.

We are living in the fallacy that ABU is enough — ‘Asal Bukan Umno’ or ‘Anything But Umno’. In 2008, that may have been enough. This may no longer be enough for the next election.

If the objective is just to kick out Barisan Nasional and if the route to achieving this would be to change Malaysia into an Islamic State to ensure that we get more Malay votes would you agree to this? If we all agree to PAS’s proposal to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State and if this will guarantee that Barisan Nasional will be defeated since we will gain more Malay votes why can’t you agree to this? The ends justify the means, right?

So you see, we can’t agree to the ends justifying the means. We want a change of government but we want it done in a certain way.

Some say Pakatan Rakyat is not perfect but it is still better than Barisan Nasional. Can I argue that Najib Tun Razak may not be perfect but he is still better than Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad? But no, we also don’t want Najib. We want an absolutely prudent prime minister.

We can’t compromise on moral conduct. We also can’t close our eyes to the proper moral code and argue that we change the government first and then address these issues later once the government has changed.

We need to address these issues now. We need to know what type of people Pakatan Rakyat is going to send into government and what will they do once they get to form the new federal government. That will be the criteria if they want our votes.

We tried the ‘get in first and talk later’ in the last three elections. Now it is time to ‘talk first and then we decide if you should get in’ approach.

It is disheartening to hear all this chatter asking us to close our eyes and just vote for Pakatan Rakyat and make sure they get to form the new government. Why are they not concerned about the quality of the government that Pakatan Rakyat is offering us?

Sure, many of you are merely concerned about changing the government. I am not concerned about just that. I am also concerned about the type of government and type of people we will send into government and whether they really have the voters’ interest at heart.

This is where you and I differ.

Anyway, Anwar Ibrahim has just told me that The People’s Voice and The People’s Declaration have been tabled at the Pakatan Rakyat Council for discussion. That is most heartening. I would be even more excited if I can now be informed as to whether the Pakatan Rakyat Council has endorsed (embraced) these two documents or has rejected them.

That would be the most crucial test of whether Pakatan Rakyat is sincere about reforms. We hear a lot of rhetoric about needing change. We hear a lot of rhetoric that Barisan Nasional is bad for the country. We now want to talk about the details of those reforms.

That is what The People’s Voice and The People’s Declaration are all about — the Agenda for Change or Agenda Perubahan.

If there is anything in those two documents that Pakatan Rakyat can’t agree to then let us know now. Don’t keep quiet and get us to vote for you and then only after you walk into Putrajaya do you turn around and tell us that our documents have been rejected.

Tell us now and allow us to decide whether we will still vote for you. That is the moral thing to do. But to keep quiet and when you get to form the government you turn around and screw us is absolutely immoral.

Finally, if you have no problems getting good candidates to contest the election then well and fine. But can we know who these candidates are? We don’t want any unpleasant surprises later. If they are good then you don’t need us. However, if you have problems getting good candidates — like how you told us earlier — then we are prepared to offer our help.

We are not trying to interfere in your internal party matters. But you said you have problems getting good candidates. If that is true then we are here to help. And if you can show us your list of these fantastic candidates then we will back off and leave you to manage the next general election.


Translated into Chinese at: