Breaking from the herd


So forgive me you Malaysian Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., plus you Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat supporters. You are all my enemies because you are all obstacles to change. Hence I am going to attack the whole lot of you like I have been doing since 2010. That is my mission these last few years of my life here on earth.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The only constant thing in life, they say, is change. That, of course, is supposed to be an oxymoron because if life does change then it cannot be constant, can it?

I always promise myself, “This is it. I have found what I am seeking,” only to discover some time down the road that I have changed my mind and continue seeking. I suppose the late Tun Ghafar Baba explained it well when he said the only person without vision is a person who is dead so as long as you are still alive you will have vision.

When I reflect on my life at age 13 (when I first entered MCKK) to my life now, age 63 (while I await news of a friend back in Malaysia who is dying in hospital), a journey of 50 years, I have had so many changes in interests, priorities, beliefs, values, and much, much more that I no longer know whether I am coming or going. I also sometimes do not even know whether this is good or bad.

Nevertheless, one thing I do know, though, is that if I happen to live another ten years I will, yet again, look back on those ten years and tell you that even in those last ten years of my life I still changed as I headed for my grave.

I suppose the only way I would be able to avoid this constant process of change would be to no longer think, or think too much. But that would probably be quite impossible seeing that since the last four years I have gone back to school and have promised myself that I shall continue going to school until my last day on earth. And the more you educate yourself the more you expose yourself to new ideas and these new ideas tend to erase the old ideas, which you thought were good ideas but no longer think so. And, because of this, you invariably change, yet again.

Sounds very confusing, does it not? Well, as long as you are not scared of thinking then this is what happens — you will find that life is not really as straightforward as most people think.

If you are a believer in Prophet Muhammad and Islam then you will know that this is the same process that the Prophet went through. His search started at age 12 and it was not until he was 40 did he find what he was seeking. And he was supposed to be a Prophet, mind you, someone chosen by God. If even with God’s help he needed 28 years to find what he was looking for, what can you expect from normal mortals like us?

Muhammad was an orphan who was raised by his uncle. His uncle was a trader who made frequent trips to Syria to conduct business and he brought his young 12-year old nephew with him on these business trips.

In Syria, Muhammad met Bahira, a Nestorian Christian, who taught the 12-year old boy the doctrine of Christianity, the concept of the one God (as opposed to the concept of the 360 Gods of the Arabs).

Contrary to what many Muslims believe, Muhammad had already been exposed to the Abrahamic faith or Semitic religion at that very early age.

After his uncle died, Muhammad worked for Khatijah, a wealthy widow, and Muhammad continued these business trips to Syria. Later, Muhammad married Khatijah and came to know her cousin, Waraqa Naufal, a Jew who had converted to Nestorian Christianity and who further influenced Muhammad’s thinking regarding the one God.

What Muhammad learned over those 28 years since he was 12 deeply troubled him because this contradicted the pagan faith of the Arabs. He would often take off to meditate and fast alone in a cave, sometimes for weeks, to seek guidance. And it is believed that during one such meditation/fasting session the truth emerged in the form of the Angel Gabriel who revealed the first verse of the Qur’an to Muhammad. The rest of the story even a six-year old Muslim will know so I can stop here I suppose.

Muslims are told we must follow the example of the Prophet. Of course, some interpret this as meaning we must follow the Hadith and Sunnah. I do not believe this is what it means. I believe following the example of the Prophet means you must go and seek knowledge. And was not the first verse of the Qur’an that was revealed to the Prophet called Iqraq?

However, as you continuously seek knowledge you will also continuously change your mind because every new bit of knowledge will shape and change your thinking. This is unavoidable because every day new discoveries are made which either strengthens earlier beliefs or prove the old beliefs wrong. Even then, some of these new discoveries may be proven wrong later when even newer discoveries are made. That, unfortunately, is the downside of research.

I have been accused of inconsistency. I have been accused of always changing my position. That is true and if this is a crime then I will have to confess to that crime.

I am guilty of changing my position regarding moral values. I am guilty of changing my position regarding religion. I am guilty of changing my position regarding politics. In fact, I am guilty of changing my position regarding life itself.

If you had known me back in the 1970s and you compare my various positions then to my various positions today, you will notice that over the last 40 years or so I have gone from the extreme left to the extreme right and then to the middle somewhat.

Partly, of course, this is due to age. When you are young you are different to when you are old or older. Partly would be due to experience. After you travel through life for 40 years you realise that some things are not what they seem and some things are not as workable or realistic as you earlier thought. And partly would be due to the knowledge that you gain as you continue to discover new things that prove your old ideas and beliefs wrong.

There are those who criticise my stand on religion. They cannot understand how I can change from a pro-Khomeini/pro-Islamic State/pro-Islamic Revolution activist to now, a liberal Muslim who defends apostasy and gay rights. There are those who criticise my stand on politics. They cannot understand how I can change from an anti-establishment or opposition activist to a critic of all politicians and political parties. They expect to see a Raja Petra today the same Raja Petra they first knew back in the 1970s.

That, unfortunately, is not possible.

In the 1970s, I believed in religion. Today, I think that religion is the cause of most of the world’s problems and that you can still believe in the existence of God if you so wish without believing in any religion.

In the 1970s, I believed in politics. Today, I think that politics is the cause of most of the world’s problems and that the focus should no longer be about winning elections or changing governments but about changing society or the way that society thinks.

To those who have just discovered religion or politics (like I did back in the 1970s), this would be beyond your comprehension. You will need another 40 years like me to understand what I am talking about.

To you, God is about following a religion and if you do not follow a religion then you are not following God. To you, change is about elections and about changing the government and if we do not win the election or change the government then we will not see change.

This is still level one of understanding things and you cannot yet see that there are many levels above level one that can go up to level ten if you care to seek more knowledge.

No, I do not wish to debate religion or politics today. I feel I have discussed this matter enough for many long years now. Today, I just want to talk about change and how I have changed over the 63 years of my life.

Malaysia is facing a lot of problems and both the government and the opposition are not helping to address these problems. You know what these problems are so I really do not need to run through the list. In fact, many of you can on your own list down the top ten problems the country is facing without any help from me.

The easy way out, of course, would be to blame someone. The opposition blames the government and the government blames the opposition, whatever that problem may be.

The truth is the real problem lies with us, not with the political parties that we support or oppose. The real problem is in the way we think. Malaysians are no longer a nation of thinkers. We are a nation of herds, as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself pointed out. And herds are incapable of thinking — if not they would not be herds.

It is futile to discuss religious, political, social, economic, governance, etc., issues unless we can first accept that the fault lies with us. Society needs to change. Our mentality needs to change. Our values need to change. Our ideals need to change. And only when we can accept this will real change be possible.

Yes, there are many problems facing the country. So we say we need change so that we can get rid of these problems. This is level one mentality, as I pointed out earlier. Those problems facing the country that you talk about are not the disease but merely the symptoms of the disease. How can we cure the disease by attacking the symptoms? We need to attack the cause of the disease, not the symptoms of the disease.

And this is the most crucial element in being able to see change, which the majority of Malaysians do not comprehend. So, while most of you focus on debating the symptoms of the disease and think that the symptoms of the disease are actually the cause, I focus on the real cause of the disease, which is the root of the problem.

I have moved on since 2008. Up to 2008, I, too, believed that the solution to change is to change the government. I can see that this is not the case. I am not saying we should not change the government or should retain the present government, as some of you will interpret this as what I mean.

Looking at what happened in the recent general election there is a likelihood that Umno and Barisan Nasional may be in trouble in the next general election anyway unless they can pull a rabbit out of the hat before that. And a number of Umno people themselves have told me that they are very worried that this may be the scenario if Umno does not address so many issues that need addressing.

Hence, whatever I may say is not going to change the results of the next general election. The next general election is almost a foregone conclusion. So why do I need to worry about the general election? I need to focus on what is going to happen if the government does or does not change, whatever the case may be. Will we see change in Malaysia?

Many of you are still bogged down in determining the outcome of the 14th General Election that must be held by March 2018. Continue doing that. I want to look at what is going to happen after March 2018, whoever may be in power at that time. This is the change that concerns me. And this change will never happen unless Malaysians can first reformat their mind and install a new operating system of liberalism and a civil society not restricted by race, religion and politics.

So forgive me you Malaysian Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., plus you Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat supporters. You are all my enemies because you are all obstacles to change. Hence I am going to attack the whole lot of you like I have been doing since 2010. That is my mission these last few years of my life here on earth.