When we have to lick back our spit

Can we Malaysians ever play the game with sportsmanship? Can we ever fight using Queensberry rules? Unfortunately when we Malaysians play or fight there are no rules or sportsmanship. Everything goes. Hence the losers lose with a bitter taste in their mouth and with revenge in their heart.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The danger with vilifying and disparaging your political opponent is we never know when we will have to lick back our spit. Hence it may be better to debate issues and ideologies rather than make personal attacks on one another.

There are many examples where foe has turned friend and we have had to pretend that we never said those nasty things that we said about our one-time foe that is now our friend.

No doubt we can always excuse our actions by saying that there are no permanent friends and permanent enemies in politics. That is, of course, very true. And sometimes we even make a friend of an enemy just so that we can face and defeat an even bigger enemy.

Hence an enemy of our enemy becomes our friend, at least for the meantime until we can defeat that bigger enemy. And then, once that mutual enemy has been defeated, we can revert to becoming enemies again.

The Allies becoming ‘friends’ with Russia during the Second World War is one example. The common enemy was Nazi Germany but once Germany was defeated the West went into a Cold War with Russia that brought the world to the brink of a nuclear holocaust that would have destroyed the entire world had not Khrushchev blinked first during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The US-Iraq alliance against Iran is yet another example but once Iran had been ‘neutralised’ then the US invaded Iraq and sent that nation back to the Dark Ages. Afghanistan is, again, another example. The US trained and armed the Taliban to fight the Russians and then when the Russians went home to Moscow the Taliban was declared the enemy of democracy.

When we need someone as our friend we have to close our eyes to their misdeeds and transgressions. The Russians were already Communists since long before WWII. Iraq was a violent regime that oppressed and persecuted its own citizens long before the Iranians sacked the US Embassy in Teheran. And the Talibans were extreme fundamentalist Muslims even before they migrated from Pakistan back to Afghanistan.

The only thing is, since the West needed their goodwill we pretended that all this was not going on. Only when we no longer need them do we raise these issues against them. It is as if these things only just happened or we were not aware of these misdeeds and transgressions earlier.

Basically, in politics, the ends justify the means. Hence making a pact with the devil is quite acceptable as long as there is a bigger devil to fight against. When we need to fry a bigger fish we must close our eyes to the ikan bilis (anchovies). Later, once the bigger fish has been fried, we can make nasi lemak out of the delicious ikan bilis.

And that is the job of the diplomats. The politicians scream blue murder. The diplomats step in when toes are stepped upon and there is a danger of war being declared. And when the diplomats fail, then the military takes over and handles the war. And that is when the citizens die, when war is declared.

Hence politicians start wars. But when the war does start it is not the politician who suffers. It is we the citizens who suffer. In the Siege of Leningrad, 20 million people died, more than half of them non-combatants. But who benefited? Why, the West, of course.

But why must 20 million Russians, more than half of them the common folk, die just so that the West can go on to become a better place? Well, that is called politics. And we are what the military would call cannon fodder. We die so that the politicians can win their argument.

A few years ago Muhammad son of Muhammad was one of the most despised men in Selangor — maybe even in the whole of Malaysia (alongside Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Taib Mahmud, and so on). Today, he is a Hero of the Revolution. Vive la Révolution!

But can you remember the nasty things we used to say about the man with two Muhammads in his name? Today we need to take back everything we said about him and ask for his forgiveness and kiss his hand.

I remember the days when PAS used to call Anwar Ibrahim ‘Anwar al Juburi’ (Anwar the asshole). In fact, that was Mat Sabu’s favourite chant. Today, Mat Sabu has to openly declare that Anwar and only Anwar is PAS’s choice for Prime Minister. Looking back now, Mat Sabu wishes he had not called him ‘Anwar al Juburi’ after all.

The other problem with vilifying and disparaging those who do not share your same political ideology or affiliation is that Malaysians simpan dendam (hold a grudge). For example, many Malays have still not forgotten or forgiven the events leading to May 13 and neither have the non-Malays forgiven and forgotten the events of May 13.

Hence grudges remain long after the event even though the wounds may have already healed and the scars may have disappeared. The fact that people still grudgingly talk about May 13 not as a historical event but as unfinished business demonstrates the still-open wounds and visible scars that many people carry.

And mind you, many of those who grudge May 13 were not even born yet 44 years ago. Hence wounds and scars are transferable, so to speak.

I know many who had voted for Pakatan Rakyat back in 2008 are, today, fence sitters. And many who were fence sitters back in 2008 today are going to vote for Barisan Nasional. And it is all because of the unpleasant words that some of us are using. Of course, many who did not vote back in 2008 are going to vote Pakatan Rakyat this time around as well.

The question is, would the gains be offset by the losses or are the gains bigger than the losses — which means Pakatan Rakyat is going to garner more votes this time around compared to 2008? We will know in two weeks time, no doubt.

But what about the grudges? Never mind whether Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat is going to win the coming election. My concern is not about the winners but about the losers. Would the vilifying and disparaging create so much bad blood that the losers will want to take revenge for this bad blood?

I remember a football game once between Terengganu and Negeri Sembilan in the Kuala Terengganu stadium where Terengganu won 2:1. Immediately after the game the Terengganu fans rioted and cars and buses with Negeri Sembilan registration plates were burned. I was there to watch the ‘fun’.

Terengganu won the game. So why riot? Well, it is not about the outcome of the game but about how the game was played. Terengganu may have won but a lot of bad blood was created during that game. Hence even though Terengganu won the fans still wanted their revenge on Negeri Sembilan.

Can we Malaysians ever play the game with sportsmanship? Can we ever fight using Queensberry rules? Unfortunately when we Malaysians play or fight there are no rules or sportsmanship. Everything goes. Hence the losers lose with a bitter taste in their mouth and with revenge in their heart.

Then what happens when later the enemy crosses over to become our friend? What do we say to someone who we used to call a dog, pig and prostitute? Do we pretend we never said all those things?

And what do we do when someone we used to call ‘God’s gift to Malaysia’ crosses over to the other side? Do we now call him or her a dog, pig and prostitute after licking that person’s asshole and calling him/her the reincarnation of Mother Teresa and Gandhi two-in-one?

Yes, be careful with your spitting lest you are forced to lick back your spit later on. And what would you do if that person you spat at happens to be a sore loser? Have we not seen how words can change to fists easily enough when the loser is not so graceful in defeat?