Monday, November 24, 2008



Raja Petra Kamarudin

I have said this before and it looks like I will have to say it again. Malaysia Today is about the fight for social justice. And just what comes under the ambit of social justice? I suppose anything that touches or affects our daily lives.

Racism, inequality, economic disparity, any form of violence, oppression, persecution, a manipulated judiciary, an unfair election system, social problems, any form of slavery, suppression of the fundamental rights of citizens, violation of the Federal Constitution, corruption, plundering and mismanagement of the country’s coffer; you name it and it would certainly be a fight up the alley of Malaysia Today.

These are actually very broad issues and within each issue they can again be dissected into sub-issues. For example, ‘any form of violence’ could be about wife beating, police violence, road rage, the Mat Rempit problem, crime on the streets, and so on. ‘Suppression of the fundamental rights of citizens’ could be about the stifling of freedom of speech, the University and University Colleges Act which forbids students from speaking out or from getting involved in politics, the Police Act which forbids assemblies of more than four people, the Publication and Printing Press Act which makes it mandatory to apply for a licence before one can publish a newspaper and which is renewable every year, and much more.

Okay, those are our focal points. Those are the issues that have become our focus. Most Malaysians would agree that these are issues that ail our society and which need addressing. But how do we address them? How do we attack these issues and grab them by the horns? This would involve a viable strategy and a coordinated and concerted tactical move. Knowing the problem is one thing. Knowing what to do about them would be the more important issue.

Understand one thing, the problems that plague us are merely the symptoms and not the disease. We can’t get rid of the problem by curing the symptoms. We need to get to the root of the problem and attack them there. Once the root of the problem has been eliminated, the problem will cure itself. But too much time is wasted trying to cure the symptoms rather than the disease itself. And this is why we see very little success from all that effort. And this despairs us and leaves us with the feeling that whatever we try to do is pointless. It leaves us with the feeling that it is hopeless to continue because whatever we try to do we will never see changes.

To understand where we are now, we must first understand where we came from and where we wish to go from here. Therefore, it is crucial that we know our history. Once we know our history and understand what went wrong then we will know what needs to be done to be able to put things right.

Malaysia is 51 years old. For me to explain what happened over the last 51 years and to plot the probable scenario the next 49 years and what Malaysia will be like when we celebrate our Centennial would require me to write a thesis. But then I can’t do that in my normal three to four pages and I am really not looking for a PhD. But how do I summarise in 1,000 words what would require 100,000? Let me try.

In any turn-around exercise, you need to look for the top ten problems. Then you attack the top three and most likely the top three would represent 80% of the organisation’s problems. This means just by solving the top three problems you solve almost all the problems. And chances are you need no longer even look at the balance of the problems because by solving the top three, which represent 80% of the problems, the other problems solve themselves. In other words, the other problems are the result of the top three and by taking care of the top three the balance takes care of itself. And even if they don’t you can still live with them if the top three or 80% of the problems no longer plague your organisation.

So what are the top ten problems facing Malaysia and what are the top three? Let us try to look at them in order of importance and in the priority that it impacts society.

1. Violation of the Constitution.
2. Erosion of the independence of the four branches of government.
3. Arrogance of those in power.
4. Denial of the fundamental rights of the citizens.
5. Corruption.
6. Mismanagement of the nation’s coffer.
7. Unequal representation of the people.
8. Lack of understanding of the nation’s history.
9. Distorting of information.
10. Poor education system.

That would be my list in order of priority. Of course, this may not be the list of others and, even if it is, the order of priority could be disputed. And certainly our problems are not confined to just these ten. Nevertheless, my believe is that by attacking the top three problems we need not even look at the balance seven because the balance can solve themselves if we tackle the top three.

For example, items 4 and 7 can be addressed by solving item 1 while items 5 and 6 can take care of themselves if we solve item 3, etc. So, by my reckoning, solve items 1, 2 and 3 and most problems will go away.

The Constitution that we have is already quite complete. But this Constitution has been amended so many times and these amendments have distorted what our Founding Fathers and the British Colonial Masters who gave us our Constitution had originally intended.

Many laws that we have today actually violate the Constitution and were formulated using provisions in the Constitution that allow for ‘illegal’ laws. For instance, Malaysia declared an emergency 46 years ago and, under the emergency provision, laws can be passed which actually take away your rights that were originally guaranteed in the Constitution. But the circumstances (war with Indonesia) that allowed for laws which take away your rights have long since disappeared but the emergency was never lifted and therefore the ‘illegal’ emergency laws, though ‘illegal’ going by the Constitution, remain ‘legal’ as long as Malaysia is still in a state of emergency.

Lift the emergency, repeal the emergency laws, allow the Constitution to revert to how it was intended, and laws such as the ISA and many more would no longer exist. And the same would apply for laws such as the Police Act, Societies Act, Sedition Act, PPPA, UUCA, OSA, and many more, which would no longer be needed as well since Malaysia is no longer in a state of ‘declared’ war with Indonesia.

Most countries have three branches of government -- the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary -- which are all supposed to work parallel to one another and independent of each other. Malaysia, however, is unique. Malaysia has a fourth branch, the Monarchy. If the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary and Monarchy were all independent of each other then we would have a fantastic system of checks and balances.

As it is now, power rests in the hands of the Executive and the Executive tells the other branches of government what it should do.

Imagine a company run by the Managing Director who does the accounts and audits the books plus he is also the Registrar of Companies who is supposed to safeguard the interest of the investors. A well-run company has to have an accountant who manages the books and an auditor who checks the books and a Registrar of Companies who make sure that the MD, accountant and auditor all do what they are supposed to do and according to the law. This means four different parties are involved in safeguarding the company’s money.

In Malaysia’s case the man who runs the organisation also balances the books, check the books, and decides if the books have been cooked -- all four functions in one. How can we expect Malaysia to have any transparency when one man decides all and no one can question or look into what he does?

And this brings us to the third ailment, the arrogance of those in power. The Executive and his band of merry men feel that they are unshakeable and that no one can remove them, so they blatantly do what they want with total disregard for the citizens’ rights and needs. They violate our trust and mandate every step of the way and retaliate with a vengeance if we have the audacity to question them. This is why items 4 to 10 prevail, because they feel they can do what they like and they think there is nothing we can do about it.

Malaysians need to put these people in their place. We need to cut them down to size. We need to show them that the people made them and the people can therefore unmake them. We gave them that power and we can also remove them from power if need be.

Those who walk in the corridors of power are playing the very dangerous divide and rule game. They divide us by race and they divide us by religion. This is similar to a very dangerous time bomb that, if not properly controlled, can explode with drastic repercussions. And this divide and rule game has escalated of late and has become a matter of concern to many Malaysians who realise that not all fires can be controlled, as much as those who walk in the corridors of power erroneously think it can.

So they play the divide and rule game to keep us apart, as they know a united Malaysian bodes trouble for those who wish to cling to power. Then let us too play this same game. Let us too divide and rule them. United, they are too formidable a foe, as would we be too if we are united. So, as they divide us racially and religiously, let us too divide them politically.

We must support Pakatan Rakyat to keep Barisan Nasional in check. When Pakatan Rakyat forms the federal government then we shall support Barisan Nasional to keep Pakatan Rakyat in check. When Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was under attack we supported him (at least Malaysia Today did from 2006) to keep Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in check. Now that Mahathir is, again, strong and his ‘kuda’ is about to become Prime Minister we must support Abdullah Badawi to be able to keep Najib in check.

Yes, it’s a dirty game of checks and balances and divide and rule that Malaysia Today plays. So be it. Dirty or otherwise that is the game they too are playing -- and a more dangerous one of race and religion on top of that -- so let us play that same game. If we can’t beat them, we will join them. And all is fair in love and war and is this not just that, war?

So don’t become perplexed when Malaysia Today changes side and realigns itself from time to time. We do what is expedient and what the situation demands at that point of time. We need to see a two-party system emerge in Malaysia. And we will support the weak to match the strong in our effort to achieve this. We work with the underdog whoever that may be. And we are not apologetic about it. This is not about lack of principles. Our principle is: absolute power corrupts absolutely. So no man or political party must be allowed absolute power.

We use our enemies to fight our enemies. Enemies of our enemies become our friends. We keep our friends close and our enemies even closer. That is the order of the day.

And that will be how we address the top three problems that plague this nation of ours. The US works with the Al Qaeda to fight Russia and with Iraq to fight Iran. In this game of denying someone absolute power there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies. Enemies become friends and friends become enemies in the interest of balance of power. Sentiments have no place in this game of power.

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