RPK and OutSyed The Box: Permanent friends or enemies?


Rocky’s Bru

I haven’t spoken with Syed Akbar Ali in three years, at least, and with Raja Petra Kamarudin a while longer. About a decade ago, when blogs were fab and the Government hated and even feared bloggers, RPK, Syed and I and others (including our lawyers!) would meet regularly at the National Press Club where I was president, at police stations and legal firms and sometimes in court, the Chinese Assembly Hall, and events featuring ex PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad. I’ve been to Syed and RPK’s homes, that’s how close I was to them.
But Syed and RPK, they were closer to each other. On 6 May 2008, their fates would interlock forever when both were charged with sedition by a growingly desperate Administration.
Months before that, during the run-up to the 2008 general election, by which time RPK had “suddenly” left Mahathir’s camp to go back to Anwar Ibrahim’s, RPK and Syed would be seen attending Opposition rallies and campaigns together.
Syed hadn’t started his OutSyed The Box blog but he was a regular contributor to RPK’s Malaysia Today, which had a very big following in those days.
At a clandestine meeting of the biggest and most influential bloggers one evening at the NPC, Syed chaired and RPK presided. These were Umno, PAS, PKR, DAP and independent bloggers who believed they could force a change in the government in the GE if they were more united in their approach, online as well as in real life (the first Bersih, Bloggers United, National Blogs Alliance, etc).
After Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stepped down, the sedition charges against RPK and Syed were DNA-ed (Dismissed Not Amounting to Acquittal) by Attorney-General Gani Patail.
Syed went on to open his hard-hitting blog and became the first president of the Blog House Malaysia and sat on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for two terms, remaining close to Dr Mahathir all the time.