When I asked to join DAP


And from that day I became a pariah in the eyes of the Pakatan Rakyat supporters. The issue they raise is that I had ‘turned away’ from Pakatan Rakyat. I think it is more like Pakatan Rakyat that had ‘turned away’ from me. Is it I who do not want to work with Pakatan Rakyat or is it the other way around?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

It was in early 1999 and I had just returned from a two-week trip of driving around Europe with my wife and another two couples that I received that ‘life-changing’ phone call from Haji Hamid Rashid. At that time the Reformasi movement was taking the country by storm and Anwar Ibrahim was in jail facing trial for corruption and sodomy.

Anyway, before that, in 1998, I had ridden a motorcycle through the Alps and I told my wife how much fun I had had and promised to take her on a road trip to Europe soon. It was later that year, in 1998, that my brother, Raja Idris, phoned and said that Lufthansa was auctioning off flight tickets so I went into their website to register. Lo and behold, I managed to win return flight tickets for two to Amsterdam at a price of only RM1,000 per person.

I told two other friends about this and they said they would like to join me on this trip. We rented a Volkswagen van for about RM4,000 for the entire two weeks and spilt the cost three ways and stayed at youth hostels at about RM35-RM45 per person a night, breakfast included. The estimated total budget for the two of us was about RM5,000 for the two weeks we spent driving around Europe.

It was after we returned from that 1999 trip that Haji Hamid phoned me and said he would like to meet up. I went to his office in Ampang and he told me that ‘they’ had submitted a list of ten names to Anwar Ibrahim as potential candidates to head Parti Keadilan Nasional’s (PKN’s) new media unit they were going to set up in April.

“Anwar rejected all the ten names we proposed and he said he wants you to head this unit,” Haji Hamid told me. “Your name was not even on the list. And we all cannot understand why Anwar would want you to head the unit when we all know that you are most critical of Anwar. You never have a nice thing to say about him. This is most puzzling.”

“Maybe he does not want a ‘yes-man’ to head the unit,” I replied. “It could be he knows I would take no shit and would call a spade a spade. I will not suck up to anyone. Or maybe he wants to ‘buy’ my silence” I joked. “Once I work for the party I will no longer be at liberty to criticise Anwar, the party, or any of the leaders.”

“The pay is not much. Only RM3,000 a month. Are you interested in the job? By the way, are you already a PKN member?”

“No!” I replied. “I just applied to become a PAS member though.”

“If you want the job you will need to become a PKN member. How can we employ you if you are a PAS member?”

So I signed up as a PKN member and soon after that started work at the party headquarters. PAS never responded to my membership application although my proposer and seconder were Hadi Awang and Mustaffa Ali. I told Dr Hatta Ramli about this membership ‘rejection’ and he laughed and said, “Maybe the party does not want people like you.”

I never asked Dr Hatta what he meant by ‘people like you’ but I assume he meant a liberal Muslim who puts a civil society, freedom of choice, etc., above ‘Islamic values’.

My membership in PKN lasted only until 2004, by then called PKR, and after the punch-up with Anwar’s security guards in Ipoh I left the party in a huff. I could no longer tolerate the Gestapo surrounding Anwar who roughly push people aside every time they tried to get close to Anwar to shake his hands. Even the Prime Minister’s guards are not that rough.

After I left PKR I tried to reactivate my membership application with PAS. And that was when I had that conversation with Dr Hatta that I mentioned above. Dr Hatta promised to look into the matter but nothing happened for the next five years. Clearly PAS did not want ‘people like me’. I was just too liberal for their liking.

In 2009, I decided to join DAP instead and spoke to YB Ronnie Liu about it. Ronnie replied that since I was a bankrupt Malaysian law would not permit DAP to take me as a member. I spoke to one of the leading lawyers and he told me that this was not true. I can become a member. I cannot hold any party position or become a delegate, candidate, councillor, etc., though. Just a member is allowed.

Maybe Ronnie was mistaken about the law — or maybe what another DAP leader told me is correct instead: that DAP would not take me as a member to avoid upsetting Anwar who views me as an ‘unfriendly party’. So, to avoid upsetting Anwar, DAP would rather not take me as a member.

That was in 2009. Both PAS and DAP did not want me as a member, one because of my liberal views and the other so as to not upset the Big Man himself. In 2010, I decided to continue my fight on another platform, a civil liberties movement platform. And that was when the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) was launched.

As soon as the MCLM was launched, I was viciously attacked. The DAP Johor chaps told me that they think the MCLM was a good idea and that they support it. However, they had received instructions from their HQ to not work with MCLM.

I told Haris Ibrahim a.k.a. Sam about this. Sam then drove up to Penang to meet Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. In fact, according to Sam, he met Guan Eng twice. And Guan Eng’s message was very clear. DAP cannot work with the MCLM unless it first gets Anwar’s ‘blessing’.

So that is the issue. Unless Anwar endorses me (or the MCLM) then no one in Pakatan Rakyat is going to touch me/us with a ten-foot pole. A few months after that I did a TV3 interview in Perth and I whacked Anwar good and proper. That was a couple of months after I had whacked him when he came to the UK and we met in London (which you can see on YouTube).

And from that day I became a pariah in the eyes of the Pakatan Rakyat supporters. The issue they raise is that I had ‘turned away’ from Pakatan Rakyat. I think it is more like Pakatan Rakyat that had ‘turned away’ from me. Is it I who do not want to work with Pakatan Rakyat or is it the other way around?