When two interests collide

Anyway, today my concerns were proven right. We are seeing Parliament moving in one direction and then the opposite direction a day or two later. And this is because we have so many conflicts of interest. And when interests collide we will see what we are seeing today.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Have you noticed that since Parliament started last week we have seen many U-turns and flip-flops? New laws are being proposed. Old laws are being targeted for amendment. Old laws already abolished are coming back under a new name. And then all these proposals are suddenly being aborted or withdrawn.

Parliament can’t seem to decide whether it is coming or going. It appears to be moving in both directions at the same time. We have five years to go for this Parliament to run its course before the next general election and in a mere week we have seen so much back paddling and back tracking. What in heaven’s name is going on?

This is exactly the reason why three years ago back in 2010 we launched the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) and also why Haris Ibrahim proposed the Independent Candidates Initiative — which did not meet the approval of Pakatan Rakyat and had to be aborted.

Prior to the 12th General Election in March 2008 life was simpler. Barisan Nasional always won more than two-thirds of the seats in Parliament ever since the coalition was formed prior to the 1974 general election.

No doubt the reason for forming Barisan Nasional was so that Umno, MCA and MIC — or the Alliance Party — could regain its two-thirds majority that it lost in the May 1969 general election. Nevertheless, from 1974 up to 2008, there was no problem for the ruling coalition maintaining its two-thirds majority in Parliament.

In 2008, however, that changed. The campaign to make sure that no party ever controls a two-thirds majority in Parliament — whether Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat — and to make sure that Malaysia can see a strong two-party system, succeeded. In 2008, the voters cut Barisan Nasional down to size and gave the opposition a big-enough win to create this two-party system that we were fighting for.

But that was merely the first step — to dismantle the two-thirds majority of any one party and to create as close as possible a two-party system. The next step was to dismantle the ‘vote along party lines’ culture of Malaysian politics so that the Members of Parliament can ‘vote according to their conscience’ — like here in the UK. If we do not do that then Malaysians will never get a fair deal because the Members of Parliament will put their personal or party interests above the interest of the voters or rakyat.

But that attempt failed because Pakatan Rakyat did not want independent-minded Members of Parliament. They wanted ‘loyal’ Members of Parliament. And ‘loyal’ here means loyalty to the party and not loyalty to the voters who put them in office.

And this was the fundamental disagreement that I had with the Opposition Leader in Parliament, Anwar Ibrahim — and later with my comrades in the MCLM. We disagreed on the new political culture that Malaysia should adopt. They wanted party loyalty above loyalty to the rakyat while I put loyalty to the rakyat above party loyalty. Hence we parted company and went our separate ways — plus I ‘retired’ from the MCLM, which was going in the opposite direction to where I would rather it went.

Anyway, today my concerns were proven right. We are seeing Parliament moving in one direction and then the opposite direction a day or two later. And this is because we have so many conflicts of interest. And when interests collide we will see what we are seeing today.

So what do you now want me to say? I told you so?

On 1st January 2010, Britain, the country that gave Malaysia its laws, abolished the sedition and criminal defamation laws. Malaysia, however, still wants to retain such draconian laws. And note that those were the same two laws that I was arrested for and charged under back in 2008.

Then we abolish one detention without trial law — the Internal Security Act — and then bring back that law under another name. Then we abolish a second detention without trial law — the Emergency Ordinance — and now talk about bringing it back under yet another name.

And is Malaysia going to repeal the Sedition Act? Some say ‘yes’ and some say ‘no’ while some say it is only a ‘suggestion’ by the Prime Minister — which means no one needs to listen to Najib Tun Razak since it is only a ‘suggestion’.

Then three laws concerning Islam — Rang Undang-undang Pentadbiran Agama Islam (Wilayah-Wilayah Persekutuan) 2013, Rang Undang-undang Tatacara Mal Mahkamah Syariah (Wilayah-Wilayah Persekutuan) (Pindaan) 2013 and Rang Undang-undang Tatacara Jenayah Syariah (Wilayah-Wilayah Persekutuan) (Pindaan) 2013 — have been withdrawn after almost triggering an ethnic conflict in Malaysia.

And we are yet to hear the court’s decision regarding the ‘Allah’ word matter — which threatens to tear the country apart if the court rules ‘not in favour’ of one side or another.

Why are all these happening? Well, simple, because everyone wants to protect his or her interest. It could be his or her personal political interest. It could be his or her party interest. It could be his or her racial interest. It could be his or her religious interest. In other words, it is another interest other than the rakyat’s interest.

Muslims need to show they place Islam above everything else. Christians need to show they place Christianity above everything else. Hindus need to show they place Hinduism above everything else. Malays need to show they place their race above everything else. Chinese, Indians, etc., need to show they place their race above everything else.

Najib needs to show he is a ‘strong’ Prime Minister or else he will not last till Christmas. Anwar needs to show he is a ‘strong’ Opposition Leader or else he cannot justify staying on as Opposition Leader. The Umno Ministers and leaders need to show they are ‘tough’ so that they can win a seat in the coming party election later this year. The MCA, MIC and Gerakan leaders need to show they are ‘tough’ to justify remaining in office and not having to resign because of the election disaster on 5th May 2013.

And so it goes on and on and around and around. No one is bothered about the rakyat’s interest. It is all about their own interest or the interest of their party, race or religion. And this is what happens when two interests collide.

How and when is this going to end? Actually I do not know how and when this is going to end. But there is one thing I do know. However and whenever it ends will have to be based not on the rakyat’s interest but on the personal interest and the interest of the party, race and religion of those people who are pushing these agendas.

Now can you see why we need a third force? The third force works for the interest of the rakyat and not for the interest of any particular political party, race or religion.

But it is too late for that now. So just sit back and watch the circus as our politicians take us through one comedy to another. And meanwhile I, too, will sit back and watch and scream ‘I told you so!” every time we see a fiasco develop.