What do you mean by ABU? (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)

So, no, do not say if you are not with us then you are against us. That is a line borrowed from President Bush. Look at the bigger picture. It is not just about kicking out Umno the political party. It is about convincing the uncommitted Malays that we are not their enemy. Hence our arguments as to why we must vote ABU must not give an impression that ABU (anything but Umno) is actually ABM (anything but Malays).


Raja Petra Kamarudin

This was the message I received from a friend who used to read Malaysia Today regularly but now no longer bothers to visit Malaysia Today:

Brother, tell RPK either he is ABU and join us to throw the BN out or he is with them. I tell you this story you can send to him.

My brother who studied in India made the observation that the Indians daily beat their cows and make them do back-breaking work. Then, on a religious day, they deck them with beautiful flowers, kiss them and worship them. Only on that day.

When UMNO talks nice things about the Chinese and Indians and recalls how they help build the country, you know it is election time. After winning the elections, they go back to beating their cows again. They are called pendatangs and all sorts of unsavoury names.
The important point is that when lower level UMNO members insult the non-Malays, the top leaders stand by quietly and say nothing about the abuses.
In other words, they acquiesce to what was stated. They all agree on insulting the non-Malays.
If the top leaders do not give a sense of fairness to all the citizens, then it is only right that we throw them out in the elections.
We need to do this because it will bring about leaders who are fair to all the citizens, not racists.
Malaysia has never had a statesman for a leader, with the possible exception of Tunku Abdul Rahman. So now it is reform and Malaysia 1.
It is the same cow story again. Why do we need to elect them based upon promises that have never been kept for 50 years.
Why did they not show us the reforms earlier? Only now, when they are in trouble? And we are stupid enough to re-elect them.


Allow me to respond to this most interesting message. First of all: on the fact that the sender of this message no longer visits or reads Malaysia Today.

Please look at the statistics below. During the March 2008 election period and in the few months of the aftermath of the election, Malaysia Today’s readership increased. Then, in September 2008, when I got detained under the Internal Security Act, the readership declined, or rather it went back to the normal pre-election figures. It has more or less remained constant until today.

When I was under detention, most readers lost interest in Malaysia Today. Since I was behind bars, they no longer saw the need to read or ‘support’ Malaysia Today. Hence, the drop in readership was because I had been detained and not for any other reason I can figure out.

It is, therefore, not an issue with me that this person says he no longer visits or reads Malaysia Today. Most readers had already abandoned Malaysia Today as soon as I got sent to the Kamunting detention centre. Malaysia Today was no longer relevant to most of these people the day I lost my freedom.

Of course, many scream about how Malaysia Today has ‘betrayed’ them. Maybe they did not stop to ponder whether I also felt betrayed. The government too realised that Malaysia Today’s readership declined once they detained me. This convinced the government that the move to detain me was the correct decision. And this made the government even more determined to keep me in Kamunting, so that Malaysia Today could be neutralised. And when the high court ruled my detention illegal and ordered my release, the government fought tooth and nail to try to get me back into Kamunting, resulting in me having to leave the country to avoid a third detention under the ISA.

My wife’s contention is that if the readership had been maintained or had even increased, then the government would have come to a conclusion that detaining me was futile and they might as well just let me go. Instead, the success in pushing down Malaysia Today’s readership by detaining me meant that my fate had been sealed. There was no way the government would allow me to remain free.

And the fact that the readership never went back up even after I had been released proved that the government’s strategy of detaining me was correct. They wanted to silence me and this objective had been met. With less people reading Malaysia Today they had, in a way, silenced me.

On the next point in that message: “Brother, tell RPK either he is ABU and join us to throw the BN out or he is with them.”

This reminds me of President Bush’s “either you are with us or you are against us” statement. That was how President Bush coerced the other nations into supporting America’s invasion of Iraq on the excuse that Iraq had WMDs. Later, of course, this was proven to be a lie. They just raised the issue of the WMDs as an excuse to attack Iraq. And they are now talking about attacking Iran on the same excuse, also with the “either you are with us or you are against us” slogan.

This brings me to the Muslim fundamentalists’, or extremists’ if you wish, doctrine that if you are not Muslim then you are kafir (infidel). And if you are kafir then you are automatically an enemy of Islam and no Muslim must take a kafir as a friend or companion.

This is, again, an “either you are with us or you are against us” doctrine. And to be with us you must become a Muslim or convert to Islam. To ‘reject’ Islam means you are an enemy of Islam and war can be declared on you to bring you to the right path.

The more liberal Muslims would reject this doctrine. Even if you are not a Muslim does not mean you are an enemy of Islam. You do not need to be a Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or whatever. This is, after all, mere labelling. What is important is nilai-nilai Islam or Islamic values. The cloak of Islam means nothing without the spirit of Islam.

And the spirit of Islam is justice, fair play, equality, transparency, corruption-free, persecution-free, tolerance, moderation, etc. These are the values you are supposed to defend and uphold, not the labelling of someone as being Muslim or kafir — and that if you are kafir then you are the declared enemy of Islam.

The days when “if you are not of my race or faith then you must be killed” are long gone. That was what they did many hundreds of years ago. And that is why we oppose regimes that still practice policies such as “if you are not Malay then you are an enemy of the Malays” and “if you are not Muslim then you are an enemy of Islam who wishes to mislead Muslims to become Christians” and “if you are not Malay then you are pendatang (immigrant) who must be treated as a second-class citizen” and so on.

Now, let us talk about ABU (anything but Umno). Yes, we support ABU. But let us not be confused about the real meaning of ABU. We are not talking about ABU merely in the context of Umno the political party. We are talking about ABU in the context of an institutionalised Umno culture.

Forget about Umno the political party. That is merely a registered organisation or political party. All you need to do is to deregister Umno (like they did in 1987/1988) and Umno will immediately no longer exist.

But will Umno, the institutionalised culture, die as well if Umno ‘dies’? When they deregistered Umno the Umno culture did not die. It continued and merely got superimposed onto the new Umno (Umno Baru). It was like a parasite that merely leaped onto a new animal once its host died. The parasite does not die.

We are not out to merely defeat Umno the political party in an election. We want to eradicate the institutionalised Umno culture. The Umno culture is in the civil service, the military, the police force, the judiciary, the Elections Commission (SPR), and everywhere. It is in MCA, MIC, Gerakan, PPP and all the other component members of Barisan Nasional. They think and do things like Umno. They are all extensions of Umno.

Until today, even after 22 years (since 1990), the Umno culture is still very strong in Kelantan. The civil service is Umno. The people in the kampongs are Umno. PAS may have been ruling Kelantan for 22 years, but they have failed to get rid of the Umno culture from all levels of the civil service and society.

PAS kicked out Umno from Kelantan 22 years ago. But Menteri Besar Nik Aziz Nik Mat will tell you they can’t seem to scrape away the Umno karat (the Umno rust).

Sure, as long as Nik Aziz remains the Menteri Besar, then PAS can continue ruling Kelantan. Even some Umno karat support Nik Aziz. But that support is personal to holder. They support Nik Aziz, not PAS. And once Nik Aziz dies, as we all will one day, there is no guarantee that PAS can retain Kelantan. In fact, even now Kelantanese are not sure whether Nik Aziz will still be alive by the 14th general election — so they are contemplating whether in the next general election (the 13th general election) they should give the state back to Umno.

So, yes, I am ABU. But I am not just ABU the political party called Umno. I am ABU the institutionalised UMNO culture. Umno can die. But if Umno the institutionalised culture remains, then it matters not whether we do or do not have Umno as the government.

Look at Perak. Granted it was because the Pakatan Rakyat state assemblypersons changed sides that the state fell back to Barisan Nasional. But that alone was not enough. If was because the state secretary was Umno (hence he locked up Nizar Jamaluddin’s office and called in the police) and the Sultan was Umno (hence he swore in the new government even if the constitution may not have allowed that) and so on. It was an entire machinery of Umno that included the police, state civil service, palace, judiciary, SPR, etc., that allowed Perak to fall.

See what happened in Selangor with regards to the key positions in the state administration. It was all done against the wishes of Pakatan Rakyat and it was, again, all Umno. So we have a Pakatan Rakyat state government with an Umno administration. If in 22 years they could not eradicate Umno from Kelantan, how long do you think this will go on in Selangor? I would say forever.

So stop being narrow minded. We need to look at ABU from a much wider perspective. Sure, I am ABU. But I am a different form of ABU. I am not ABU the political party called Umno. I am ABU the entire institutionalised Umno culture. But maybe this is too complicating for simple-minded people to understand.

Now, regarding the rest of the points in the message. The writer has listed down all the reasons of his grievances with the present government. I can sum up everything he said in just one sentence: racism and the unfair treatment of non-Malays. Hence, he argues, that is why we need to vote ABU.

However, what was highlighted is not the cause of the disease but the symptoms of the disease. You can’t cure the symptoms of the disease. You need to treat the cause of the disease.

Will kicking out Umno cure the disease? It will not. Kicking out Umno is a temporary solution. Umno was kicked out from Kelantan 22 years ago. But the Umno culture still remains. And at anytime Umno can re-emerge in Kelantan and this time with a vengeance.

It is like a cancer that is not fully cured. It only gives an impression it is cured. But at any time it can come back and, when it does, this time it will be very vicious and unforgiving and very rapidly it will do its worse. Most people worry about the cancer coming back after being cured the first time around. It is when it comes back that the patient normally dies.

The Umno cancer in Kelantan is still there, even after 22 years. It has not been fully cured. This is because the Umno cancer is not just in Umno the political party. It is everywhere, in particular in the civil service, police, military, judiciary, villages, SPR, etc., all bent on making sure that Umno the political party returns to take power in Kelantan.

Ask Nizar why Perak fell. Was it because the three Pakatan wakil rakyats jumped ship or because the civil service and palace all worked against the opposition? Ask Khalid Ibrahim why he faces serious obstacles in Selangor. Is it not because the head and the body move in opposite directions? Ask Nik Aziz whether PAS really has control of Kelantan or is the Umno karat still very strong in the state civil service.

No, kicking out Umno the political party is not enough. Without a doubt the support of the Malay Diaspora is very crucial. Unless Pakatan and people such as the writer of the message above can convince the Malays that ABU is not an anti-Malay movement, ABU is not going to get wide Malay support.

The writer of the message has listed down all his grievances with Umno. And it is all about racism. The points are very valid, of course. I am not saying they are not. But try looking at things from the kacamata (eyes) of the Malays. Don’t you think that by arguing such you are creating an impression that ABU is about removing the political power of the Malays? And is this the impression we want to create? And will this get the support of the Malays in the kampongs, civil service, police, military, judiciary, SPR and so on?

So, no, do not say if you are not with us then you are against us. That is a line borrowed from President Bush. Look at the bigger picture. It is not just about kicking out Umno the political party. It is about convincing the uncommitted Malays that we are not their enemy. Hence our arguments as to why we must vote ABU must not give an impression that ABU (anything but Umno) is actually ABM (anything but Malays).

No, I am not a racist. I am not a Malay supremacist. How can I be with a Welsh mother and a Chinese/Siamese wife? I am a realist. And the reality is: political power is in the hands of the Malays and the Malay majority seats far outnumber the ‘mixed’ seats and, without Malay support, Pakatan Rakyat is not going to form the next federal government.


Translated into Chinese at: http://ccliew.blogspot.com/2012/01/blog-post_8129.html