Play it again, Sam

The MCLM was an attempt to continue the struggle for reforms outside the political party platform and this was something we started six years ago (in 2004) and before there was even an opposition coalition called Pakatan Rakyat (which was formed four years later in 2008).


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The Star, Bernama, Utusan Malaysia and many Umno websites are going to town with the ‘news’ that I have turned my back on the opposition and am now whacking the opposition by saying that it is not fit to rule the country.

Actually this is an old story. I have in fact been whacking the opposition long before there was even an opposition coalition called Pakatan Rakyat. And to demonstrate what I mean, please see the following articles and the dates they were written.

1 November 2001 Welcome to the Real World

26 November 2001 KeADILan’s true colours revealed – which is a shade of UMNO

4 September 2002 Don’t cry for me Reformasi

1 November 2002 The right NOT to listen

15 November 2003 Why the non-Muslims oppose PAS’ Islamic State concept

8 December 2003 Ibrahim Ali: Prince of frogs, but certainly no Prince Charming

12 February 2004 The writings were on the wall, but why did we not act early enough?

19 February 2004 Keadilan knows nuts about psychological warfare

26 February 2004 “Justice must not only be served; it must also be seen to be served”

10 March 2004 Crowds don’t translate to votes

3 April 2004 The wakeup call that did not wake us up 

The above are just some of the articles over the last ten years or so. And these were only the ones published in the Free Anwar Campaign website. There were many more that were published in the PAS newspaper, Harakah, all equally uncomplimentary to the opposition.

Since 2000, just a few months after the 1999 general election, I had been very brutal towards the opposition. In the run up to the 2004 general election I became even more vocal. Nevertheless, the opposition remained complacent and continued to live in denial mode and in the 2004 general election they got massacred like General Custer at Little Bighorn.

That was when I decided to launch Malaysia Today and soon after that I resigned from the PKR party newspaper, Seruan Keadilan, to go ‘independent’. I had given up trying to tell the opposition what they are doing wrong and what they should be doing instead.

Then, a few months later, some friends mooted the idea of launching the Malaysian Civil Liberties Society (MCLS). Unfortunately, since 2004 until now, the MCLS never saw the light of day because the Registrar of Societies (ROS) blocked its registration.

I never thought PAS and DAP would ever agree to go to bed together. At best we may see a 1990 situation where Semangat 46 formed an electoral pact with DAP called Gasasan Rakyat and a separate electoral pact with PAS called Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah (APU).

In short, there was one electoral pact on the west coast and another on the east coast, but no opposition coalition in the real sense of the word.

Therefore it made sense that we continue the struggle for reforms outside the political party platform (since the opposition itself refused to unite under a coalition) and instead band together under a civil liberties movement called the MCLS.

Six years on and the MCLS stayed buried. It appeared like there would be no way we could get this thing going in Malaysia. The only way we could get it done would be to do it outside Malaysia where civil rights and civil liberties are respected — thus the idea to launch the MCLS in the UK instead of Malaysia.

However, so as to not confuse people, we decided to call it the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) instead of the MCLS so that we will not be accused of stealing or hijacking the MCLS illegally. And this would happen if suddenly the ROS turns round and approves the MCLS application.

So, point number one: I have been whacking the opposition since the last ten years (even on Anwar Ibrahim’s website, Free Anwar Campaign, and the PAS party newspaper, Harakah) so why make a bid deal about it now?

Point number two: The MCLM was an attempt to continue the struggle for reforms outside the political party platform and this was something we started six years ago (in 2004) and before there was even an opposition coalition called Pakatan Rakyat (which was formed four years later in 2008).

So the MCLM came first (in the form of the MCLS awaiting registration). Pakatan Rakyat came four years after that. Why talk as if the MCLM is being set up to disturb or sabotage Pakatan Rakyat?

Incidentally, we did not think that there would ever be an opposition alliance so for purposes of the 2008 general election we launched Barisan Rakyat as a platform to campaign for whichever political party that adopted The People’s Voice and The People’s Declaration. Soon after that PAS, DAP and PKR banded together under a coalition called Pakatan Rakyat. Pakatan Rakyat, however, comprises of three political parties whereas Barisan Rakyat has six political parties.

Point number three: See the full video of the two-hour MCLM forum in London on Sunday, 12 December 2010 ( and read the Malaysiakini report below. Why are people still asking all sorts of questions and passing all sorts of comments when this matter has already been clarified in great detail? What more do you want us to say that we have not already said?

It appears like many make comments out of sheer ignorance because they are too lazy to read. Then again maybe they know what is happening but are just being mischievous by distorting the matter. If this is coming from Barisan Nasional I can quite understand why they are doing this but for Pakatan Rakyat to also do this does not give people the confidence that the opposition has higher principles than the ruling party.


Haris Ibrahim: We are not the third force

When news of a ‘third force’ first broke out a few months ago in the heat of PKR direct leadership elections, many viewed it with scepticism, rather than optimism.

While some political party leaders, notably from PKR, dismissed this third force as neither a ‘third’ nor a ‘force’, others even claimed that the newly launched Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) meant to draw votes away from the party.

Indeed, the timing of the group has raised eyebrows and it was easy to link MCLM to the recently concluded (and controversial) PKR elections.

However, setting the record straight is Haris Ibrahim, MCLM president who was appointed to the office in October – in absentia – when the committee first met in London.

In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini, Haris dispelled myths surrounding MCLM, explaining its core objectives, its benefactors and the ‘third force’ label.

Emphasing that the movement was not a political party, and had no plan to be one, Haris seemed rather embarrassed by the notion of a ‘third force’ party.

“I suppose when this idea was bandied about, the phrase ‘third force’ was used. Unfortunately, rightly or wrongly, it has attracted some form of connotation. We consciously moved away from that label.”

“The third force carries an ugly connotation. If parties keep on talking about ketuanan rakyat, or Makkal Sakthi in 2007, the rakyat then is the third force. For us and MCLM to hold out as the third force, that’s a joke,” said the lawyer and blogger.

Funded by Malaysians living overseas

When the formation of MCLM was announced by blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, people were more surprised by the fact that the announcement was made in London.

To that, Haris said it was a matter of convenience that the forum was held at a hotel in London. “Would it have made a difference if it was held in another country? There was an attempt to register the society here, but got nowhere with the Registrar of Societies. So why London? It is because that’s where there are many Malaysians keen to see the idea take off the ground,” he said.

MCLM, he said, is funded by a group of “Malaysian Diaspora with aspirations of wanting to see a better Malaysia”. The candidates selected for a general election, he added, would only need to have allegiance to the rakyat.

One of the candidates is lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, whose name was announced by Raja Petra last weekend. Haris said 18 more persons have indicated that they want to join.

“We don’t want frog festivals like what happened earlier this year. And can you believe that people like (Kinabatangan MP) Bung Mokhtar (Radin) keep getting fielded?” he asked.

“They (the candidates) don’t have to be loyal to us. If they later want to join PKR or Gerakan, they can go ahead.”

Haris said that while the numbers in MCLM might fluctuate, many of the candidates were “reluctant politicians” with other commitments at hand.

“Many of them need time to tell their families, wives, husbands and so on. They need time,” he said when asked why only one name was unveiled.

A pool of independent candidates

But once the candidates agreed to stand for the coming general election, Haris said, they would be shadow MPs, working on the ground in the different constituencies where the incumbents were ‘ineffective’.

These MCLM candidates would then be offered to the various political parties as election candidates. “Yes, we will abide by the whip and we will vote with the party. But we will break ranks if the policies are not pro-rakyat. Our candidates will not just be ‘Independents’… they will be independent-minded,” he said.

What then happens if BN takes an interest in the MCLM candidates? “Can. For that (Prime Minister) Najib (Abdul Razak) will have to table a motion in Parliament in the next sitting in March to repeal the Printing Presses and Publications Act, Internal Security Act, Official Secrets Act and the Universities and University Colleges Act. Put that into place and then we’ll talk,” he said.

Asked if push comes to shove and no one is interested in the candidates, Haris said the rakyat would be the guide on whether they should contest as independents.

“We will do a poll. If the constituents like us and say that we should run, then I guess that’s what we’ll do,” he added. — Regina Lee,