When fences are erected

Malaysia was already badly divided between Nationalist Malays and Leftist Malays long before Merdeka. Then, around Merdeka, we were further divided between Secular Malays and Islamist Malays. Now we are being divided between Liberal Malays (mainly urban) and Conservative Malays (mainly rural). To further divide the Malays between Royalist Malays and Republican Malays is just one more divide too many.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

No unity talks with Najib – Anwar

(The Malaysian Insider, 20 June 1013) – Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim stressed today that there has not been a proposal for a unity government from the prime minister.

Anwar said the only suggestion for a unity government came from the people.

“It is important for us to appreciate the fact that the three parties are committed to Pakatan Rakyat,” he said, meaning PKR, PAS and DAP.

“There was no basis whatsoever for any such consideration on embarking on a unity government.”

He also dismissed having any such talks and also rubbished claims that he had met Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the Istana Presiden Indonesia in Jakarta when the two were in the country last week at the same time.

Anwar said he only met with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and former vice-president Jusuf Kalla in Bali and Jakarta respectively.

Anwar was speaking to reporters at the PAS headquarters in Kuala Lumpur where PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub, who was also present, denied that PAS was involved in unity talks.

“At this stage, not at all. We stick with Pakatan. Any decision we make is under Pakatan, it’s very clear,” Salahuddin said.

It was reported that talk of forming a national unity government started some time ago but that disappeared after the last general election amidst speculation that Najib’s position as the premier was weakening.


The 30-year War of the Roses was fought in England between 1455 and 1485 — a tussle between the houses of Lancaster and York over the throne of England. From 1642 to 1651, the nine-year English Civil War was fought between the Crown and Parliament. Both these wars were wars between brother and brother, cousin and cousin, and sometimes even father and son.

The problem with those two wars was that the combatants and those who died — and there were many who died — were in one way or another related to one another. Yet they had to fight against each other and kill each other just like what happened during the four-year American Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

Of course, all this did not happen only in England and America. All over the world, over thousands of years, wars between ‘brothers’ have been fought. The Indian Civil War (if I may be permitted to call it that) soon after WWII resulted in the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan. Indians of Hindu and Muslim persuasion that had been living as friendly neighbours for more than a thousand years suddenly and mercilessly butchered each other and more than a million Indians died.

In all three examples above (England, America and India) it was a case of politicians fighting for power. And this power struggle eventually led to a war. But it was not the politicians who suffered. It was the people who suffered.

It is easy for politicians like Anwar Ibrahim and Najib Tun Razak to ‘declare war’ on each other. If these two were to go behind the swimming pool and slug it out on a one-on-one (like what we used to do in MCKK) then well and fine. But that is not what they do. What they do is they drag the rakyat into their fight and cause the rakyat to turn on one another, fight one another, and hate ‘the other side’.

Take the example of the War of the Roses or the English Civil War where brother fought brother, cousin fought cousin, and sometimes even father fought son. Do you think these people really hated each other? They did not.

However, they had no choice but to take sides. You either supported the King or you opposed him. And you either supported the King or opposed him not because you love him or hate him but because you happen to live in that particular town that either supported or opposed the King.

In other words, you are a victim of circumstances. Because of the circumstances of where you live you are forced to choose sides or else you will get killed for being a ‘traitor’. Hence you support the side you do not really support and oppose the side you would really like to support…or else…

I am a royalist at heart. Of course, I have criticised the monarchs on many an occasion and for various reasons over the last 30 years or so since the 1980s. But I criticise them because of their conduct or wrongdoings. It is somewhat ‘personal to holder’. But I never show disrespect by calling for the abolishing of the monarchy and to turn Malaysia into a republic.

In fact, I have also been very unkind to the Malays although somehow they do not call me a racist like they do when I also criticise the Chinese or Indians. I suppose these people apply the doctrine that you are a ‘Towering Malay’ when you criticise the Malays but a racist when you criticise the non-Malays.

Nevertheless, I still believe that we need the monarchs to keep the peace between the Malays and the non-Malays. The Malays, however antagonistic and defiant they may be, will always listen to their Raja-Raja Melayu. And in the event of a racial conflict, the Raja-Raja Melayu will be able to issue a titah (royal decree) and the Malays will listen to their monarch and will calm down.

Many are of the opinion that the maintenance of the monarchy is a waste of good money. Would you say that health and safety are a waste of money however much it may cost? I believe that the monarchy serves a purpose. As long as Malaysia has its Raja-Raja Melayu (sovereign) the Malays would feel that their kedaulatan (sovereignty) is intact. That makes up for whatever else the Malays may be lacking.

There are many Malays who feel they have lost out in the economic sphere. Whether it is the fault of the Malays themselves or of Umno — that the failure of the NEP can be blamed on — is not really a matter that I wish to debate here. The point I wish to stress is that in spite of the ‘backwardness’ of the Malays in terms of wealth, the Malays will always find solace in knowing that they still have something that the others do not have — the Raja-Raja Melayu.

People like Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tun Musa Hitam, Tun Ghafar Baba, Anwar Ibrahim, and many more from Umno (or ex-Umno) are republicans at heart. If given a choice between maintaining the monarchy and turning Malaysia into a republic they will choose the republic option. But even these republicans know that this would be dabbling with the unknown and better you stay with the known than risk the unknown (as they say: better a devil you know than an angel you don’t).

Malaysia was already badly divided between Nationalist Malays and Leftist Malays long before Merdeka. Then, around Merdeka, we were further divided between Secular Malays and Islamist Malays. Now we are being divided between Liberal Malays (mainly urban) and Conservative Malays (mainly rural). To further divide the Malays between Royalist Malays and Republican Malays is just one more divide too many.

I have spoken to many of my non-Malay friends and they feel that a divided-Malay is the best way forward. They quote the example of Bersih and the ‘Black 505’ rallies where there are as many Malays as non-Malays amongst the crowd. Hence this is ‘proof’ that a divided-Malay augurs well for Malaysia’s liberal movement.

Division can never be good. Division can never be better than unity. Although the non-Malays may see a divided-Malay as good for multiculturalism, there will be a price to pay for disunity.

The notion that one person’s loss is another person’s gain does not always apply to all situations. Civil wars create victims. And most times the victims are the ‘innocent bystanders’. Bullets do not pick and choose its targets. The innocent as well as the guilty suffers in a hail of gunfire.

I would urge our politicians to pause and take a long and deep breath. What is the agenda? Have we lost sight of the agenda? Can politics of hate achieve what we are trying to achieve?

I used to be a strong Pakatan Rakyat supporter. In 2009 I even issued a rebuke to His Highness the Sultan of Perak and I refused to publicly apologise for that rebuke even when commanded to do so by my own family from the Selangor Royal Household. When my family gave me an ultimatum to apologise or else get ostracised, I responded publicly that I would rather leave Selangor and never set foot on that state soil ever again than withdraw my rebuke.

So, yes, I too have defied the Palace, and on more than one occasion. But in all that time I still referred to the State Rulers as Their Highnesses and the Agong as His Majesty and addressed them as ‘Tuanku’ and myself as ‘patek’. I never called them dogs and pigs and whatnot like many of you do in your comments on the Internet and in Malaysia Today as well.

But now I am no longer a strong Pakatan Rakyat supporter although my critics translate this as meaning I am now a Barisan Nasional supporter. As I said, I have personally and publicly rebuked the monarchs from time to time. But I never vilify and disparage them like many of you do. And there is a difference in case many of you are too dumb to understand.

How can I support any political grouping that takes political mileage from a hate campaign? Back in the 1980s I became a ‘hard-core’ opposition supporter when Umno (and led by Dr Mahathir, Ghafar and Anwar) declared war on the monarchy. The plan then was to abolish the monarchy and turn Malaysia into a republic.

This, however, was bitterly opposed by PAS and that was when I (openly) became a staunch PAS supporter although I had been a ‘closet supporter’ as early as the 1970s. Hence one of the factors in me ‘coming out of the closet’ and opposing Umno is because of the 1980s Constitutional Crisis. This was also why Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah got support (because he too was opposed to the onslaught on the Rulers) and was the reason why PAS-Semangat 46 won Kelantan in 1990 (because the Sultan of Kelantan openly and defiantly supported the opposition).

As I said earlier, we do not start the wars. The politicians start these wars. We are merely victims of these wars and are compelled to take sides because we are forced by circumstances to do so. Hence Pakatan Rakyat needs to reflect on what will happen if the Malays are further divided than they already are. Do not equate ‘Malay unity’ as merely strengthening Umno. That is a very narrow way of looking at things.

In that case, do you view ‘Malaysian unity’ as a weakening of Umno or as a way to prevent a race war in Malaysia? Hence, if Malaysian unity is good for the country how can Malay unity be bad? We seem to have this view that Malay unity will work in favour of Umno while Malays at war with one another is good for the opposition.

Maybe this is how Israel looks at things. Arab unity is bad for Israel while Arabs at war with one another is good for Israel. How can a Middle East at war be good for the world? Wars breed extremists and killers and soon these extremists and killers go all over the world to kill innocent women and children. Then we blame Islam for this whereas the wars in the Middle East are not about Islam but about politics, power and territory.

And this is where politicians from both sides of the political divide are being very irresponsible. Of course both sides will claim that their cause is noble and they will cite all sorts of reasons as to why they need to fight.

Invariably, at the end of the day, it is all about politics and power. The reasons being cited are the excuses to give them a noble image of why they fight. And the result is we hate each other and wish ill on each other. And the way the monarchy is being vilified and disparaged has turned Royalists like me against the politicians from both sides of the political divide.

I am a Royalist and proud of it and I offer no apologies for being a Royalist.

(By the way, a Royalist does not mean a member of the Royal Family but a person who supports the Monarchy).