Victims of self-hypnosis


Before we celebrate our ‘success’ and declare that we have ‘won’ and that we represent the majority view, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Do we really represent the majority view? What formula have we applied to come to that conclusion? Because 100 or 200 people who comment in Malaysia Today say so? Because 150,000 people who marched on the streets on 28th April 2012 say so? 


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Say you go to the mosque every day. You go at 5.00am, from 7.00-9.00pm, and sometimes even at lunchtime and teatime, and for sure you will go for your Friday prayers. You will certainly mix and interact with the congregation, maybe even visit each other on Hari Raya, and sometimes socialise as well, plus maybe do an Umrah trip together with the entire family. 

Amongst all that, you would talk, discuss, debate, maybe even argue, about matters of mutual interest and concern. Sometimes you may share the same opinion and sometimes you may disagree. Sometimes one side gets swayed by the other side and opinions change or get watered down.

After, say, five years, you would have formed a sort of comradeship and would most likely agree on most matters. Five years of interaction and communication does that to people. If you had found the people in that mosque insulting and their opinions revolting, you would have long ago abandoned that mosque and would have moved on. The fact you stayed meant that there were some things in common that you share.

Say you go to the pub every day after work. You practically live in the pub and there was many a time when the pub owner had to request that you all leave and go home because he or she needs to close up and allow the staff to go home.

The pub is almost like your second home, just like the mosque goers above that I talked about. The other pub patrons are almost like family. You share stories. You discuss issues. You debate and even argue. There were even times when some of these sessions ended up in fisticuffs when the debates became too hot and too many glasses of beer had passed over the counter.

Some of the pub kaki who did not like the discussions and who did not agree with the opinions being expressed have all since left. After a few arguments, and one that even ended in blows, they left and never came back. They are now ‘members’ of another pub down the road or in another part of the neighbourhood. Those who still patronise this pub over the last ten years or so are basically all birds of a feather. If not their feathers would have been plucked out by now.

Now, try to visualise the sentiments of the mosque congregation that I talked about. Then try to visualise the sentiments of the pub kaki above. Say, if I were to assemble all the mosque chaps and the pub crowd in one hall. Then I propose a subject for debate. Say the subject I propose is about implementing Islamic laws in Malaysia. What do you think we are going to see?

I do not tell you which group is from the mosque and which group is from the pub (for the sake of this ‘experiment’ let us just say they are all Malays). However, from the way the debate is going and from what is being said, you can tell which group is the mosque goers and which group is the pub kaki.

When Malaysia Today was first launched eight years ago, it was quite a mixed bag of readers. However, over time, a certain group of people have dominated Malaysia Today. And it is these people who also dominated the comments section in Malaysia Today.

Those who do not agree with what the readers of Malaysia Today have to say or do not agree with the views of the writers whose articles get posted in Malaysia Today have all since left. They no longer visit Malaysia Today or read what is posted in Malaysia Today. It is like the scenario of the mosque and pub that I mentioned above. Those who don’t like what they hear have all moved on. Those who remain are mostly birds of a feather.

The people in that hypothetical mosque above imagine that they represent the majority view. And that is because they all speak the same language. The people in that hypothetical pub above also imagine that they represent the majority view. And that is because they, too, all speak the same language. And the same goes for the readers of Malaysia Today, or at least those readers who comment in Malaysia Today. They, too, imagine that they represent the majority view. And that is because they all speak the same language as well. 

But are we really the majority view? Or are we victims of our own propaganda? 

I do not know how many people turned out for the Bersih 3.0 rally on 28th April 2012. The estimates vary from as low as 25,000 to as high as 300,000. Let us, for argument’s sake, just put the figure at 150,000, plus-minus 50,000. And you say that this means the majority of Malaysians support electoral reforms. 

Now, there are 16-17 million eligible voters in Malaysia. How do you justify 150,000 as representative of the majority view of 16-17 million voters? Are we kidding ourselves? 

Okay, you may argue that the majority of those who comment in Malaysia Today reflect this majority view. How many comments are we talking about? 100? 200? We are talking about 100-200 comments amongst a readership of 500,000-750,000. At its lowest, Malaysia Today receives 500,000 unique visitors a month. The highest is 750,000. During elections or by-elections, it spirals to one million, at least for those few weeks (so does Malayskini and all those others). 

In that same context, can 150,000 marchers really be said to reflect the sentiments of 16-17 million eligible Malaysian voters? Note that about 4 million of those 16-17 million did not even register to vote. Hence we can assume that they do not care a damn about what happens to Malaysia. And the higher percentage of those who did not register is non-Malays, according to the statistics recently released. 

Okay, so at least 12-13 million or so ‘concerned’ Malaysians have registered to vote even if another 4 million did not bother to do so. But will all this 12-13 million actually vote? I suspect that another 4 million of those registered voters will not be voting in the coming general election. Only 8-9 million will be voting. Hence a total of about 8 million eligible voters do not care a damn what happens to Malaysia. That is almost 50% of the eligible voters.

Before we celebrate our ‘success’ and declare that we have ‘won’ and that we represent the majority view, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Do we really represent the majority view? What formula have we applied to come to that conclusion? Because 100 or 200 people who comment in Malaysia Today say so? Because 150,000 people who marched on the streets on 28th April 2012 say so? 

I detect that the level of over-confidence plus the level of arrogance demonstrated by those 100 or 200 who comment in Malaysia Today has increased a lot. And this is because they are of the opinion that they have already won? Won what? What is it that you have won?

Those people in that mosque feel that all Malaysians are ready for Malaysia to be turned into an Islamic State because everyone in their congregation expresses the same views. Then, when we put them in the same hall as the group from the pub, they suddenly realise that their view is not really the majority view after all.

Even those 150,000 Malaysians who marched on the streets on 28th April 2012 do not share the same view. Some were there for glamour purposes — it is ‘cool’ to march in the Bersih rally. Some just joined the gang — since their gang wanted to go so they went as well. Some were genuine about wanting to see electoral reforms. Some were not even registered to vote or too young to vote. Some went because they are members of a political party and their party instructed them to go so they went — if their party was not involved and it was a purely Bersih affair they would not have bothered. Some went just to have some fun and to take some pictures. And some went because this was a great opportunity to run riot — like after a football match in the UK where they riot for the fun of it even if their team won the match. 

Hence, whenever we talk or when we post comments, take note that not all share our sentiments. And if we demonstrate arrogance because we imagine that everyone is with us it may create more harm than good. 

Take the Tunku Aziz matter as one example. Do you think everyone is of your view that he must be punished for not toeing the party line? 100 or 200 of you commented so. But what about the more than 500,000 other Malaysia Today readers who did not comment at all? They just read and kept quiet. They said nothing. 

What do you think they are thinking? You don’t know because they are not telling you. And how many of the 500,000-750,000 Malaysia Today readers who used to support DAP will now no longer do so because they do not like what you are saying or doing with regards to the Tunku Aziz issue?

You want freedom of speech you go it. But as I always said, freedom of speech is like a knife. In the wrong hands it can kill. And sometimes what you say reflects the double standards that you apply. Look at the following comment:

This will cause massive traffic jams and snarl the city. Total inconvenience for the people but does UMNO care? Businesses all over Puchong will be badly affected. Is it a coincidence that most of these traders are Chinese? — comment by Bourne (in the article: Motorists urged to avoid roads around Bukit Jalil Stadium Friday to Sunday)

Remember when some people opposed the Bersih 3.0 rally on the streets and suggested that it be held in the stadium instead? They also used the same argument as ‘Bourne’ did. And the Indian traders also raised the issue of disruption to businesses.

Your response was that it was a stupid excuse. You also whacked the entire Mamak community because a few Indian traders pointed out that rallies and road closures affect their business. Your response is to curse, mock, insult and make racial slurs about Indian Muslims although not all Indian traders in the city centre are Muslims.

Then there is this comment:

Fart Fart Wah, don’t expect so much from him. Remember the mystery of his going on study leave while still holding the post of IGP? — commment by bapalah ( in the article: Hanif: Let them say what they want)

Can you see how, as the Malays would say, sedap cakap saja? You just shoot off your mouth without even knowing the real story. In short, you are lying and misleading. You are just trying to generate hate.

Tun Hanif was then the IGP and his Deputy was Tan Sri Amin. But Tan Sri Amin was older that Tun Hanif. Hence he would never make IGP. He would retire as Deputy IGP. So Tun Hanif took a one-year sabbatical to do law in the UK so that Tan Sri Amin could take over as Acting IGP. This was because the Deputy Prime Minister, Musa Hitam, would not allow Tun Hanif to resign to make way for his Deputy to take over. 

It was actually a noble gesture. Tun Hanif wanted to retire to make way for Tan Sri Amin but the Deputy PM would not allow him to do so. So Tun Hanif took one-year leave without pay to enable his Deputy to at least become the Acting IGP for a year. That means Tan Sri Aman can retire with an IGP’s pension. 

How many people would do this? Hence credit should be given where credit is due. And even if you do not like that person you should not lie about him or her. And the 100 or 200 of you who comment in Malaysia Today, which is read by more than 500,000 other people who do not say anything, may actually be hurting your cause. You may actually be the cause of DAP or the opposition losing quite a number of votes. And, unless this is really what you are trying to do, be warned or else the day after Polling Day you are going to have to read another “I told you so” article from me.