Do you deserve democracy?

We must not forget that the fence sitters are capable of doing this. In 1999, they swung to the opposition and Barisan Nasional was given a beating. Even Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad thought that if he stayed on as the Prime Minister then, in 2004, Barisan Nasional might even be kicked out of office. So he resigned and handed the government to his Deputy. And in 2004, Barisan Nasional made a comeback and gave the opposition a beating of its life.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

RPK, that day you ask us to go and march for Bersih and you even challenged Chinese people to go to Bersih when there are more Malay and less Chinese. Now that the Bersih is balanced with all the races in Malaysia, you are siding with Tunku Aziz and saying there should not be any demonstration pulak. Which one is it? Aiya. — Comment by ‘xairesx’ in ‘Be careful what you wish for’.


If you walk into a Ferrari showroom and you ask the salesperson, “How much is the fuel consumption? How many miles can I get to the gallon?” the salesperson will probably reply, “If you need to ask, then you can’t afford a Ferrari.”

If you need to ask why I am ‘siding’ with Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim, then, as the Ferrari salesperson would say: you do not deserve democracy and freedom of speech. You should not even be asking me such a fundamental question.

Anyone can agree with someone who takes the same stand as you or shares your view. That is easy. The mark of a true democrat, however, is when you can allow someone who you do not agree with or who takes the opposite stand as you to express his opposite view.

Is this the first time an opposition leader from both sides of the political divide has ‘broken ranks’? Many a time has a politician from both Pakatan Rakyat as well as Barisan Nasional expressed a view that is opposite to the party’s or the party leader’s view. But why in this particular instant has someone who did what many others have also done been vilified in such a vicious manner? As the Malays would say: ini sudah luar biasa.

Yes, I did challenge the non-Malays, in particular the Chinese, and in particular the Chinese readers who comment in Malaysia Today, to put your money where your mouth is. Many of you talk so much. But when it comes to action you do not demonstrate the same commitment as how you talk.

If you feel so strongly about clean, free and fair elections then support Bersih. Participate in the Bersih protests. Show that you are prepared to act and not just talk. In 2007, there was hardly much non-Malay participation. Bersih 2.0 was an improvement, however. It is time that political activism be better ‘balanced’ and representative of the racial demographics of Malaysia. Don’t let this just be a Malay fight. Show that all Malaysians irrespective of race are equally committed to the fight for reforms.

Hence my ‘challenge’ to the Chinese readers who comment too much in Malaysia Today was: translate your talk into action. Show real commitment. Get off your chairs and stop being mere keyboard warriors. Show Malaysians that this is a Malaysian fight and not a Malay fight.

Tunku Aziz has the opposite view to me. He is worried that street protests might turn violent. And we do not really know who are the ones who are going to trigger this violence. It could be overzealous protestors. It could be agent provocateurs. Nevertheless, whoever it may be who triggers this violence may be opening up an opportunity for the government to exploit the incident. If that happens and if Bersih is viewed in a negative light then whatever we have achieved in 2007 and 2008 may be eroded. We may actually be scaring off the 30-40% fence sitters who swung to the opposition in March 2008 and now might swing back in the next general election.

We must not forget that the fence sitters are capable of doing this. In 1999, they swung to the opposition and Barisan Nasional was given a beating. Even Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad thought that if he stayed on as the Prime Minister then, in 2004, Barisan Nasional might even be kicked out of office. So he resigned and handed the government to his Deputy. And in 2004, Barisan Nasional made a comeback and gave the opposition a beating of its life.

You may say that this was because of threats, money, fraudulent elections and whatnot. Do you mean to say that only in 2004 this happened? It happened in 1999. It happened in 2008 as well. How could the opposition do well in 1999 and 2008 and not in 2004 when the conditions in all three elections were the same? In fact, even prior to 1999 they still used threats, money and fraud. So nothing really changed. What changed was the way the 30-40% fence sitters voted.

And what made the 30-40% fence sitters swing to the opposition in 1999 and 2008 but not in the other elections? Basically, the fence sitters are fickle and they are influenced by certain factors and events. And fear is one factor that influences how the fence sitters vote.

The fear factor is a very powerful weapon. It makes people do what they would not normally do. They would jump out from the 20th floor of a building to face certain death if the building is on fire because of the fear of getting burned alive. Both ways you die. But the fear of dying in a fire is stronger than the fear of dying from the fall. So they jump and die.

Is that sensible? There is nothing sensible when it comes to fear. Fear overrides common sense. And fear of trouble can make the fence sitters vote Barisan Nasional rather than Pakatan Rakyat.

Is Tunku Aziz correct in his assessment of the situation? He was correct that Bersih 3.0 might turn into something violent. But whether this may in turn swing the fence sitters back to Barisan Nasional is yet to be seen and we will know once the 13th General Election is held.

Tunku Aziz could very well be wrong. We may not agree that Malaysians can still be intimidated by the possibility of violence like what happened in May 1969. Malaysians may have come of age and can no longer fall for that any longer. But just because we think Tunku Aziz is wrong does that mean he must, therefore, not express his view? And if he does, does that mean we must vilify him and treat him so harshly? Does that mean Tunku Aziz can only say what we like him to say and he must not talk otherwise?

What makes us so different from Umno and Barisan Nasional? Umno and Barisan Nasional too do not like to hear us contradicting or criticising them? Aren’t we, therefore, just the opposite side of the same coin?

Tunku Aziz did not speak against DAP. He did not speak against Bersih. He did not speak against protest demonstrations. He spoke against violence. He felt that if we defy the government as well as violate the court order, that would make the ‘occupy Dataran Merdeka’ agenda a criminal act. Whether this is a good law or a bad law is another issue. The fact remains that if we occupy Dataran Merdeka we would be committing a crime. And Tunku Aziz did not want to tell Malaysians to break the law and ignore the court, as he is a man who would prefer to obey the law.

That is his choice. I have broken the law many times. I am still breaking the law until today because I do not agree with many of those laws. When I was in Malaysia, every time I break the law the police would come knocking on my door. After about a dozen times my wife got so fed up that she told me if I want to continue breaking the law I had better get out of Malaysia.

So now I am in the UK. And I am in the UK because I want to continue to break the law. It is not that I cannot go home to Malaysia. I can. But if I do then I will have to promise the government that I will stop breaking the law.

I told the government I am prepared to return and face whatever charges they hurl at me. I am even prepared to not contest those charges and will plead guilty. That is no problem. But then I will also have to stop breaking the law, which means I will have to stop writing and thus close down Malaysia Today. That, I am not prepared to do. So I remain here in the UK because of that.

So don’t talk to me about breaking the law. I do it every day. My latest article on Raja Nong Chik in The Corridors of Power includes ‘RAHSIA’ documents. ‘RAHSIA’ documents are protected by the Official Secrets Act. So, again, I have broken the law. And if I were back in Malaysia, this morning, yet again, the police would have come knocking on my door.

I break the law more times than you change your underwear. So don’t preach to me about breaking the law. But that does not mean I support violence. You think I am scared of violence? I am a Taekwondo Black Belt. I also did Karate. In my school days, I was with the Long Fu Tong and used to hang around the Rex Cinema and Malaysia Snack Bar. You mean with all that I shy away from violence?

I am against applying violence to win the elections. That is the long and short of it.

In 2004, I was Abdul Rahman Othman’s campaign manager for Putrajaya. Rahman, who was the Deputy President of PKR, was the Parliamentary candidate there. And the Umno bouncers were violent.

They beat up Rahman’s son. They cut down our flags. I responded by cutting down the Umno flags. Two carloads of Umno bouncers pounced on me. I pulled out a knife and charged at them. The PAS man recording the whole thing on video laughed when the ten Umno chaps saw my knife and backed off.

They phoned the police and a patrol car came. One of the Umno chaps, a Datuk, shouted that I had pulled a knife on them and he told the police officer to arrest me. I told the police to go screw himself and jumped into my car and drove off.

A few hours later, the head of the Putrajaya Special Branch summoned me to the police station regarding the incident. I told the police officer that unless the Umno chaps want to go home in a coffin they had better leave us alone because the next time they attack us they are going to get their throats slit.

The police had to act as the ‘middleman’ and a truce was called. From then on the Umno chaps left us alone. No more violence. In fact, Tunku Adnan Mansor, the Umno candidate, even walked up to me to shake my hands. Until today we are still friends although we are on opposite sides of the political fence. Tunku Adnan is a gangster. So am I. And gangsters respect each other.

So you see, if you want violence, I can give you violence. But Rahman Othman not only lost the election, he lost his deposit as well, an embarrassment for someone who was the Deputy President of the party. Hence, we won the street contest, but we lost badly at the ballot box with no dignity left.

So which is more important? Being able to single-handedly fight with ten Umno goons who were scared shit of my knife or winning the election?