RPK: Rakyat reform agenda only way forward for opposition

By K.C. Boey, The Malaysian Insider

MELBOURNE, March 3 — Reforms are the only way forward if the opposition in Malaysia is to overturn 53 years of unbroken rule by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government, blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin said here yesterday.

But Raja Petra, who campaigned actively for the three parties who now make up the Pakatan Rakyat (PR), despaired of the opposition offering an alternative when he set out the reform agenda of the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) in a public lecture at the Australian National University in Canberra.

“We (the MCLM) can’t seem to get the opposition to bring itself out of Merdeka politics,” he said in a question-and-answer session, “the politics of 1957. They are still stuck in the past.

“What they fail to see is that the world has moved on,” said Raja Petra, 60, popularly known as RPK. “People are more sophisticated, people are better read, people are better informed.

“Unless the opposition can come to terms with this … we are going to see a Barisan Nasional government for many, many more years to come.”

In a presentation on “Beating Malaysian Authoritarianism with People Power: A Blog Activist’s Tale” that moderator Dr Andrew Walker described as “entertaining and fascinating”, Raja Petra said the opposition could not come into government without the support of the non-Malays and, more critically, the voters in east Malaysia.

The non-Malays in Peninsular Malaysia have to a large extent had the fear factor of Umno’s “riot act” lifted, but the opposition was giving no comfort to the people in east Malaysia, many of whom are Christians.

“The key to Putrajaya is in the hands of Sabah/Sarawak,” Raja Petra said. “Whoever rules Sabah/Sarawak will rule the whole of Malaysia, and currently we do not see the opposition making any headway in Sabah/Sarawak.

“Why do we (the opposition) play the race and religion game in Sabah/Sarawak? The Muslims are the minority in Sabah/Sarawak. Yet the opposition, in particular Anwar Ibrahim, wants a Muslim to head Sabah and Sarawak.

“There are a lot of Christians in Sabah/Sarawak; very angry Christians; the issue of body-snatching, the issue of Christians can’t use the word ‘Allah’ … What they see is one federal government exchange for another federal government, one colonial party exchange for another colonial party.

“They want change. They want religious freedom. They want equality.”