What change?


And this is why I must whack both the government and the opposition because both sides are equally disrespectful about civil liberties. I don’t care who gets to form the government. That is not my concern. My concern is whoever it is who gets to form the government understands what civil liberties mean and will respect and allow us our liberties.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

In February 2007, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation was contracted by the South African government to carry out a study on the nature of crime in South Africa. The study concluded that the country is exposed to high levels of violence as a result of different factors, including why South Africa is so violent and what we should be doing about it.

1. The normalisation of violence. Violence comes to be seen as a necessary and justified means of resolving conflict, and males believe that coercive sexual behaviour against women is legitimate.

2. The reliance on a criminal justice system that is mired in many issues, including inefficiency and corruption.

3. A subculture of violence and criminality, ranging from individual criminals who rape or rob to informal groups or more formalised gangs. Those involved in the subculture are engaged in criminal careers and commonly use firearms, with the exception of Cape Town where knife violence is more prevalent. Credibility within this subculture is related to the readiness to resort to extreme violence.

4. The vulnerability of young people linked to inadequate child rearing and poor youth socialisation. As a result of poverty, unstable living arrangements and being brought up with inconsistent and uncaring parenting, some South African children are exposed to risk factors which enhance the chances that they will become involved in criminality and violence.

5. The high levels of inequality, poverty, unemployment, social exclusion and marginalisation.

Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation


In 1997, approximately 8,000 criminal formations operated in Russia. In 2000 it was estimated that nearly 50% of the nation’s economy was linked with organised crime. In 2009, Russia had 15,954 homicides or 11.2 per 100,000 people. In 2011, the United Nations rated Russia as among the leaders in homicide cases.


At one time, Malaysians were banned from visiting Russia, China, South Africa, Israel, etc. Today, only Israel is still on that banned list. This is because Russia held its first democratic elections in 1991 (soon after the Berlin Wall came down the year before) and in 1994 South Africa followed suit. Thus ended Communism in one country and Apartheid in the other.

And the world celebrated the democratising of these two countries. Even Malaysia removed these two countries from the banned list. It looked like the world was heading for better days.

But this was not going to be so. Today, Russia and South Africa have a host of social problems and is now regarded as among the most dangerous countries to live in. And these countries’ economies are being driven by its ‘black’ economy.

What went wrong? Democracy (as opposed to Communism and Apartheid) was supposed to bring better days for these two countries. Isn’t democracy good for the world? How could democracy actually see regression rather than progression?

Malaysians think that democracy is the answer to all the world’s problems. As long as we have democracy then everything will be honky-dory. And democracy basically means general elections once every five years. Even Zainuddin Maidin, Malaysia’s one-time Information Minister, told Aljazeera that Malaysia practices democracy because the country holds elections (he actually said ‘erections’) every five years.

Can you imagine an Information Minister thinking that as long as we hold general elections then the country is democratic? Democracy and general elections do not mean that the country is already good enough. Even in Russia and South Africa they hold elections to choose their leader.

As I have said many times before, democracy and elections are merely the tyranny of the majority. There is no fairness or justice in democracy and elections. In fact, this is not what I say. This is what the renowned scholars of politic science and political philosophy say. I am just repeating what they say.

Being a democracy is not good enough. Holding elections is also not good enough. We also need social justice. We need civil liberties. We need public order. We need to eliminate or at least reduce corruption. And Russia and South Africa are just two of many countries that prove that democracy and elections actually made it worse for the country if you fail to address the other issues as well.

In 1999, I was very active in the Reformasi movement. In 2007, I was very active in the Bersih (1.0) movement. In 1999, 2004 and 2008, I was very active in the general elections. Since then, however, I have ‘withdrawn’ to focus on social issues that involve civil liberties (and which was the reason we launched the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement or MCLM in 2010).

In 2012, I was asked in an interview whether I thought that Anwar Ibrahim is guilty of sodomy (meaning the ‘Sodomy 2’ episode). I replied that I did think he was guilty. The interview was more than an hour. However, only part of that interview was published.

Now, we must be very clear about the Q&A here. If asked whether I thought that Anwar is guilty — in the context of sodomy is a crime in Malaysia — my reply, of course, was that I did think so. It is just like if you ask me whether I thought that Chua Soi Lek is guilty of oral sex. I would also reply yes (I saw the video).

But the guilt that I talk about is based on criminal laws. And both anal as well as oral sex are crimes according to Malaysian laws. And both carry the same 20-year maximum jail sentence. So it all depends on how you frame that question and in what context you are asking me that question.

If I were asked whether Anwar and Soi Lek should be sent to jail for their alleged ‘sex crimes’, I would reply no. And I have written about that before. I am of the opinion that making anal and oral sex a crime are church laws that were later adopted into common laws and are now the criminal laws of Malaysia.

When I talk about social justice and civil liberties it must include freedom of choice. And freedom of choice means sex between two consenting adults is no business of the state. If you argue that this is ‘unnatural’ sex according to the Bible then I will tell you to shove your Bible up where the sun does not shine. Why must I live my life according to Biblical laws that have now become common laws?

I would argue that the Malay language Bible should not use Allah for God because this is State law. It may be a bad law just like the anal and oral sex laws but it is still the law. Remove or abrogate those laws if you do not like them. You cannot, on the one hand, whack the government for not respecting the law or the Constitution, and then scream that we do not need to follow bad laws and should defy these laws. We need to be consistent.

Many laws need to be removed or abrogated. That law that forbids Christians from preaching to Muslims, the law that forbids Muslims from leaving Islam, there are many more laws that need to be removed, not just the Allah word and anal/oral sex laws.

The question here would be, is the opposition also supportive of civil liberties? I do not want to talk about democracy or general elections. All these are meaningless without civil liberties. Will PKR, DAP and PAS issue statements in support of civil liberties?

Can we legalise anal sex, oral sex, gay unions, close proximity and/or sex between consenting Muslim adults who are not married to one another, apostasy (especially for Muslims who wish to leave Islam), freedom of religion (not just for Christians to use the Allah word but also to preach Christianity to Muslims as well), and much more? The law would not even allow Muslims to eat, drink and smoke in public during the fasting month — they would get arrested.

I do not wish to discuss democracy or general elections. There are enough people from the opposition talking about that. I, too, talked about that from 1978 to 2008, a 30-year talk session. I want to bring the discussion up to a higher level. I want to talk about civil liberties. And civil liberties is not about holding general elections once every five years. It is about allowing Malaysians all the freedoms that religion says should not be allowed.

And I know the politicians are not prepared to do that, whether from the government or from the opposition. And this is why I must whack both the government and the opposition because both sides are equally disrespectful about civil liberties. I don’t care who gets to form the government. That is not my concern. My concern is whoever it is who gets to form the government understands what civil liberties mean and will respect and allow us our liberties.