Raising the ante somewhat

Okay, allow me to go back to the matter of the 3Rs, which is actually what I want to talk about in my normal cheong hei fashion. The 3R issue will still be with us whether Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat runs the country. So how would changing the government solve the matter of the 3Rs unless society itself is able to discard the doctrine of the 3Rs?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

I was invited to give a talk in Cambridge not too long ago and the focus of my talk was on the 3Rs. Basically this means race, religion and royalty. Earlier I had written about it (a few times, in fact), which upset quite a number of people — Haris Ibrahim a.k.a. Sam of the ABU or ‘Anything But Umno’ movement being one of them, who said I was playing the race card.

This is where some people do not understand that you do not shoot the messenger if you do not like the message. ‘Shooting the messenger’ is a saying derived from olden day Greece when the King would kill the messenger if he brought back a message His Majesty did not like — such as “Your Majesty, we have just lost the battle and our entire army has been wiped out and the enemy is marching towards us and should be here in an hour.”

I suppose many would rather that I downplay sensitive issues, sweep them under the carpet, and do not throw the spotlight on them. That is just like what some of my friends tell me when I ask them whether they have gone for a routine medical check up, especially those who are past 50 or 60 (like me).

It is advisable to do so, I tell them, in the event you have cancer or whatever. Then the cancer can be detected early while there is still time to do something about it. By the time the cancer is at stage three, or by the time there is a swelling and you feel the pain, it may be too late.

The response they give me is that they do not want to do that because they would rather not know. If they do go for a routine medical check up and in the event the doctor does detect cancer they would be very worried. Hence better they do not know. Then they would have no worries.

Yes, quite a number of my friends actually did say that, believe it or not. And I have lost quite a number of friends, or their wives, who have since died from cancer. Two of my favourite aunts died since I left the country in 2009, both due to cancer. Hence, as they say, early detection is the best way to beat cancer. Don’t wait till you feel the pain or see the swelling. Most times that would only mean you have crossed the point of no return.

Yes, cancer, my ‘favourite’ subject. And it is my favourite subject not because I love it but because I fear it. And I fear it because (and I have told you this story before) my wife suffered from breast cancer (and so far is beating it) while recently I, too, was suspected of having colon cancer (which happened to be a false alarm although the symptoms were there).

The bottom line is, you can fear cancer and would rather not know if you do have it to avoid the anxiety of knowing. But that does not mean this is going to keep you safe. It just means ignorance is bliss and you live under the false pretense of being safe when you actually may be slowly dying without knowing it.

I am talking about cancer not to sound morbid but because Malaysia, too, is suffering from cancer. And, as I said, it is better that we have early detection rather than wait until the cancer reaches the stage where it becomes incurable. But then many would rather I not talk about it. They whack me when I talk about it. They would rather scream ‘ABU’ than deliberate on Malaysia’s cancer and explore what we should do to beat this cancer.

So how do we beat Malaysia’s cancer then? Simple! We change the government. And that is why we need to shout ABU, so that the government can be changed. Once the government has been changed the cancer would disappear all by itself.

But that is just it. It is not the government that is giving us this cancer. It is society. So can we beat Malaysia’s cancer by changing the government if we do not also change society, which is the real cause of the cancer? Changing the government without changing the way society thinks will just be old wine in a new bottle.

Let me put it another way. Governments comprise of people. So we change the government but the same type of people (albeit wearing different ‘clothes’) run the new government. Will this change anything?

Now, at this point of my article, the Pakatan Rakyat supporters and ABU-screamers will say that I am propagating to keep the present government. And they will say this because I said changing the government is of no use if we do not change the people. That is how narrow-minded people perceive things. These people are beyond reasoning.

Okay, allow me to go back to the matter of the 3Rs, which is actually what I want to talk about in my normal cheong hei fashion. The 3R issue will still be with us whether Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat runs the country. So how would changing the government solve the matter of the 3Rs unless society itself is able to discard the doctrine of the 3Rs?

And you know that doctrine is the foundation of the belief system and cannot be easily changed. And it is doctrine that cause conflicts just like the conflicts between religions or between different sects of the same religion.

Let me use the following analogy to explain what I mean.

You hold to the doctrine of Islam. You then decide to change religions and, say, become a Catholic (my analogy of changing governments). But you still hold to the doctrine of Islam even after becoming a Catholic. You still believe that Prophet Muhammad was the last Prophet. You do not accept the Trinity or the doctrine of Jesus as the Son of God. You do not believe that Jesus died on the cross but believe that someone else who looked like Jesus did and Jesus, in fact, ascended to heaven and escaped death.

Okay, you are no longer a Muslim. You are now a Catholic. But you do not accept the Catholic doctrine. You still subscribe to the doctrine of Islam. Have you really changed religions other than in name only? Or are you still a Muslim at heart?

Hence, the doctrine of the 3Rs is an Umno doctrine. Do those in Pakatan Rakyat accept this doctrine? Or do they reject this doctrine and hold to an entirely different doctrine? And will those Malays in Pakatan Rakyat agree to the new doctrine or do they still hold dear the old doctrine?

If you regard the 3Rs as the cancer facing Malaysia and if you regard it as a serious problem that needs solving then we must decide what to do about it. Changing the government without discarding the 3R cancer is not changing anything. 

That is the point I am trying to drive home.

But how do we change it? Is Pakatan Rakyat going to ensure that the Constitutional Monarchy remains a true Constitutional Monarchy — which means it is seen but not heard? In that case can, for example, the Sultan of Selangor issue Royal Decrees — like His Highness did regarding the Christian use of the Allah word?

Can we tell His Highness to shut up and not issue any statement? And if His Highness does issue a statement can we issue a counter-statement telling the people to ignore what His Highness said? Can we warn His Highness that Islam may come under the Rulers’ jurisdiction according to the Constitution but that is merely ceremonial and this does not give His Highness any real powers over Islam?

And if we do decide to do all that, will the Malays in Pakatan Rakyat agree with that move? And if the Malays in Pakatan Rakyat do not agree with that move, would changing the government change anything when the doctrine that forms the foundation of your belief system remains the same?

These are hard questions that require honest answers. And by ‘cleverly avoiding’ these issues — as some political analysts said today (READ HERE) — this does not mean that Pakatan Rakyat has solved the problem. It just means that Pakatan Rakyat is ignoring the cancer because it is better to ignore it than know you have it to avoid the anxiety of knowing.

Let me assure you that the matter of the 3Rs is not going to go away. In fact, Umno is raising the ante, as events over the last two or three years have proven. Many praise Pakatan Rakyat for not falling into Umno’s trap by not responding to these sensitive issues.

Some of my friends feel the same way when it comes to cancer. Nevertheless, eventually the cancer gets them however they may ignore it. And I believe that the 3R issue has reached the stage of incurable. The Malays are soon going to be placed between a rock and a hard place. The Malays are going to be made to choose what doctrine they subscribe to.

But I may be speaking too early. Let us see what happens during the PAS party assembly and elections first before coming to a conclusion. And if the ulama’ faction grabs power and the liberals are ousted, then I suppose my thesis is spot on. If not then Umno would have to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate their 3R strategy.

How middle-of-the-road or centrist Umno becomes will depend on whether the liberals or fundamentalists get to lead PAS. If PAS becomes more liberal, then Umno will need to change course and become more liberal as well. But if PAS becomes more Islamist, then Umno’s 3R strategy becomes even more relevant.

Is it not ironical that what happens with Umno and the direction Umno will take the country depends on what happens in Pakatan Rakyat, PAS in particular? Hence if we expect Umno to change that will have to depend on whether PAS changes first.

Strange, is it not? PAS is going to determine the direction that Umno takes. And this is because the Muslim votes are going to determine the outcome of the next general election. So the real fight is between Umno and PAS, not between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat.