Now that Bersih is over (part 4) (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)


We need to ask: why are there laws that allow such drastic action against unarmed and defenceless Malaysians? Why can something so brutal become legal? Well, that is because our most honourable Yang Berhormat Ahli Parlimen who we voted for and sent to Parliament passed these laws in Parliament. They passed laws that made it legal for the police officers or soldiers to shoot or brutalise Malaysian citizens.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Some readers are lamenting that I am rehashing and repeating what I have already said before. It appears they are tired of reading ‘the same old thing’. Well, the Russians said the world has a memory of only 100 days — in response to their no response regarding the Koran Airlines KAL 007 disaster.  Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said: Melayu mudah lupa (the Malays forget so easily). Actually, most Malaysians mudah lupa, not just the Malays

I suppose those of you with long memories do not like reading about the same issue again and again. Maybe you think that once is enough and the message will sink in clearly enough. We do not need to keep repeating ourselves.

In that case, why did we need to organise anti-ISA rallies every year for 50 years? Is not just one anti-ISA rally good enough? After all, the message is the same each time. There is no new message in all those many rallies. It is the same old message. So, why repeat our message by organising one rally after another for 50 long years?

Apparently, once is not enough. Even 50 years of anti-ISA demonstrations have not done the trick. Even now, after 52 years, the ISA has not gone away. It has merely been reincarnated in another life form.

And why do we need Bersih one, two and three — and probably four, five six, and so on, after this? Is not just one Bersih rally sufficient? Why the need to keep repeating ourselves? I am sure the government understood our message in Bersih 1.0 back in November 2007. Maybe they did not listen, but they certainly heard us in Bersih 1.0. Hence, is not Bersih 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, etc., redundant? If the government did not listen during Bersih 1.0, do you think they are going to listen even if we have Bersih 10.0?

The bottom line is: people never listen. So we need to keep harping on the same issue and drum it into their heads again and again. We have to keep chipping away at the Berlin Wall, metaphorically speaking, until finally ‘the wall’ comes crashing down. It did take 39 years for the Berlin Wall to finally come tumbling down. And it took 27 years for Nelson Mandela to sit in jail before his message finally got through and Apartheid also came tumbling down like the Berlin Wall. 

One indication that people never listen is the manner that many respond to what is being written. While the subject may be about, say, the manner in how the local council workers are killing stray dogs, instead of discussing the issue of cruelty to animals, many focus on debating the colour of the dog collar. This appears to be the tendency of many readers, not only in Malaysia Today but in the other Blogs, websites and news portals as well.

I have also, again and again, said that we need to discuss the cause and not the result. The result is due to the cause. We cannot change the result. We need to attack the cause. For example, corruption, abuse of power, mismanagement of the country’s resources, racism, persecution, intolerance, police brutality, manipulation of the judiciary, and many more ills that face Malaysia, are the result.

We cannot change the result if we do not eliminate the cause. Hence, screaming and foaming at the mouth regarding the result is not going to help. We need to understand what causes all this and work towards changing that. The result will change once the causes have been eliminated.

Also understand one more thing: we cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different results. If we keep doing the same thing we will keep getting the same result. That is another thing that many can’t seem to comprehend. Hence I need to keep repeating all these issues until people start understanding the issue. At the moment, we are very far from achieving this. 

Let us take the issue of police highhandedness and brutality as an example to what I am trying to say. This is the issue that many are debating in the aftermath of Bersih 3.0 last Saturday. Was the action by the police during the Bersih 3.0 rally really brutal? That is what many of you are debating. And the reply to that question would be ‘yes’. 

Okay, while most of you focus on talking about the police highhandedness and brutality during last Saturday’s Bersih 3.0 rally, I do not waste my time in engaging on that subject. And the reason is: because we will get nowhere talking about that. What, then, would I talk about? I would talk about this.

Police highhandedness and brutality has been the ‘norm’ since back when I was a teenager in the 1960s. I personally have been subjected to police highhandedness and brutality even as far back as 50 years ago. But it still goes on in spite of whatever we may say. Hence, will screaming about it change anything unless we change the reason why such things happen? As I said, we need to attack the cause. If the cause remains, the situation will never change. And no amount of screaming is going to help.

Do you know that when the ‘Reformasi 6’ were in Kamunting back in 2001 — and that was 11 years ago — they were beaten up? Do you know that a few of us were beaten up in front of the Dang Wangi Police Station back in 2001 and I was beaten up inside the police station? Do you know that since 1998 demonstrators were beaten up every time they took to the streets? Do you know that in the 1970s defenceless ISA detainees behind the barbed wire fences of Kamunting were shot with tear gas and then beaten up when they launched a hunger strike as a mark of protest? They were not demonstrating or marching on the streets. They were locked up in Kamunting. Yet they were brutalised.

So that is the issue. The issue is why are the police able to brutalise defenceless citizens and get away with it? And how can we stop all this from happening?

You see: the police personnel are protected by the law, mainly because they are enforcing the law, and we, the citizens of Malaysia, get no protection, mainly because we are breaking the law. It is as simple as that. For example, if emergency were to be declared and a curfew is imposed and the army is summoned to enforce martial law, then the soldiers have every right under the law to shoot us dead even if we were just walking to the shop next door to buy some bread.

Is it right to shoot someone who was just going out to buy some bread? Of course not! But the law allows it. Once emergency is declared and martial law is imposed, the soldiers have every legal right to shoot first and ask questions later. And they did this in Kampung Baru in May 1969. Many Malays from outside Kampung Baru who had gone there, and were stranded because of the curfew and had no place to go, were shot dead by the Sarawak Rangers. And there was nothing illegal about this. 

We need to ask: why are there laws that allow such drastic action against unarmed and defenceless Malaysians? Why can something so brutal become legal? Well, that is because our most honourable Yang Berhormat Ahli Parlimen who we voted for and sent to Parliament passed these laws in Parliament. They passed laws that made it legal for the police officers or soldiers to shoot or brutalise Malaysian citizens.

Hence, while you channel your anger at the police (or soldiers, as the case may be), I am not going to bother to whack the police. Would I want to get angry at the fox that ate the chicken? Is not the natural instinct of the fox to eat chickens? Is it not the nature of the beast? I want to know how did the fox manage to get into the chicken run in the first place. We cannot stop the fox from eating chickens. It is what they do. But we certainly could have protected the chickens. So that is where the fault lies.

I have been arrested, detained, put in prison, etc., enough times to know that there are good policemen and prison warders and there are bad policemen and prison warders — just like there are good politicians and there are bad politicians.

I have had policemen sneaking cigarettes into my cell and stand guard while I take a smoke. And it is their cigarettes, mind you. I did not have to pay for it. And note that cigarettes are contraband and you will get punished for smoking in prison.

I have had prison warders sneaking bottled mineral water into my cell because they know I would never drink the piss water that they serve us in prison. Some have smuggled cakes, roti canai, and all forms of foodstuff to me because they know I would not feed my dog the food they give us let alone eat it myself. One warder even phoned Anwar Ibrahim and became my ‘courier’ to send and receive messages to and from the outside.

One warder was a PKR committee member in Perak. Two younger chaps were PAS members who joined the demonstrations in Kedah and who picked up the tear gas canisters and threw them back at the riot police. Another one shouted ‘reformasi’ and gave me the clenched first salute whenever he passed my cell. He would also pass me cigarettes through the prison bars. Another chap opened my cell door and took me out for a walk when the coast was clear. Another removed my blindfold so that I could ‘see some sky’ (we are constantly blindfolded and handcuffed whenever we are brought out from our cell).

All these are crimes and these people would have been in deep shit if they had been caught. But they were with the cause and they treated me as a comrade rather than a prisoner.

As I said, there are good police officers and prison warders and there are bad police officers and prison warders. Some have treated me like dirt. Some have taken risks that would have cost them their jobs had they been caught. So let us not curse all police officers and prison warders. Curse the bad ones by all means. However, more importantly, curse the Members of Parliament who passed laws in Parliament that allow Malaysian citizens to be brutalised on the excuse that the law was being upheld.

That would be talking about the brutal manner that the dog was killed rather than the colour of the dog collar.


Translated into Chinese at: