Tuesday, September 9, 2008


With each passing day my admiration for RPK keeps growing. Not only does the man have titanium balls, he's also blessed with crystalline intelligence. Besides, his initials are a good match for PKR, or Parti KeADILan Rakyat, the party behind the Reformasi movement triggered by Anwar's unceremonious sacking. Most importantly, RPK has got HEART - unlike many other self-styled pundits who hem and haw and throw cold water on the burning passion of the rakyat for genuine reform. I won't name these pusillanimous political analysts. There are too many of them, stroking their metaphorical beards and showing disdain for everything Anwar Ibrahim has accomplished as a reformer and visionary. These mockingbird intellectuals all have one thing in common: their envy of Anwar's political charisma, his mental agility, physical stamina, and his rockstar-like popularity. Rather than jump to their feet and and give this great hero a standing ovation, they carp at his human shortcomings and past errors. And what do they prescribe as a remedy for the malaise that has afflicted Malaysia for decades? Wait till GE13! Bollocks! In the immortal words of Jim Morrison: "The time for hestitation's through/No time to wallow in the mire/Try now, we can only lose/Come on, baby, light my fire!" In case some of you still can't access Malaysia Today, I'm reproducing RPK's latest inspiring blogpost below...


20 SEPTEMBER 1998 was the day Malaysia saw its biggest demonstration in history. That was also the day Anwar Ibrahim was arrested by a SWAT team with faces hidden under balaclavas and armed to the teeth. It was not until a few days later that the world discovered Anwar had been beaten up by no less than Malaysia’s chief of police and left unconscious on the floor of his cell until the following morning -- where an alarmed police officer found him exactly where he had been left the night before, still unconscious.

Anwar spent seven months in jail without bail while he faced trial on various charges of abuse of power and sexual misconduct. The reason they denied him bail was because he was a ‘threat to national security’, an allegation that had nothing to do with the charges he was facing. How Anwar can be charged for one offence and then denied bail for reasons that had no relation to the charge is probably something law students will be arguing about until the end of time. Only in Malaysia can the courts make up the rules as they go along and move the goalposts halfway through the game whenever they feel they are losing the plot.

The abuse of power charge Anwar faced was under Ordinance 22. That is an outdated law that had been repealed and had been replaced by new laws under the Anti-Corruption Act. Ordinances are laws introduced before Merdeka and Acts are laws introduced by Parliament after Merdeka. But somehow someone forgot to sign the papers so officially the law still existed. So they chose to charge Anwar under that law that had been unofficially repealed but officially was still valid since they forgot to sign the papers repealing that law.

Anwar’s lawyers, of course, protested and argued that while the law had not quite been repealed due to an oversight, nevertheless that law can be considered repealed since Parliament had repealed it and it should not have been used against Anwar. The court, however, was of the opinion that it is up to the prosecutor what laws they would like to use against Anwar and since the old Ordinance had somehow been mistakenly ‘retained’, then there is nothing wrong in using that law against Anwar.

In other words, since someone forgot to sign the papers to repeal the law that Parliament had repealed, then there is nothing wrong in still using this law. As long as Anwar is charged before the date the papers are signed then the charge is valid, even if the papers are signed the very next day and that law no longer exists during the course of the trial.

Anwar was found guilty and sentenced on 14 April 1999. In the meantime, he was forced to stay in jail since 20 September 1998, a period of seven months. Anwar was then sentenced to six years jail but the court refused to consider the seven months he had spent in jail without bail. The court decreed that his sentence would commence from 14 April 1999 and not 20 September 1998, as should have been the case.

Normally, your sentence starts from the day you are jailed, or what they would call the remand period. There have been many cases where detainees spend two or three years in jail because they can’t afford to pay the bail and when they are finally sentenced they walk out the day of sentencing because the sentence is shorter than the period of detention or remand. In Anwar’s case, the seven months he was in jail was totally ignored, so his jail sentence was not really six years but six years and seven months.

Since Malaysia does not, at least then, have a parole system, you are allowed a one-third remission on your sentence. This means Anwar would have served his sentence by midnight of 20 September 2002. But they refused to release him on 20 September 2002. Instead, Anwar only saw freedom on 2 September 2004, almost two years longer than what he should have spent in jail.

Yes, it has been a long ten years for Anwar. He has endured more than what rapists, bank robbers, extortionists, kidnappers, pimps, drug pushers, loan sharks, currency forgers, and other hardcore criminals have had to endure. Even murderers have been treated better and at times even allowed bail, even though according to the law murderers are not allowed bail.

Is Anwar about to finally enjoy the fruits of his ‘hard labour’? Has what he has gone through this last decade been worth it? We have only a few days more to see the answer to this question.

Anwar already has 34 Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament ‘in the bag’. The government knows this so they have sent these Members of Parliament to Taiwan for a ‘study tour’. They are supposed to all go study agriculture but they have taken their golf bags with them. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know what they are going to do in Taiwan.

While in Taiwan, the government will work on these Members of Parliament to try to persuade them to remain in Barisan Nasional and to not cross over to the opposition. The government knows that these Members of Parliament have already signed their letters and that these letters are now with Anwar. All Anwar needs to do is to present these letters to His Majesty the Agong to prove to the Agong that Abdullah Ahmad Badawi no longer commands the majority confidence in Parliament. So now they are also planning to send the Agong to Saudi Arabia to perform his Umrah. With the Agong out of the way, Anwar will not be able to present these letters to His Majesty.

Umno says there is no way Anwar can form the government on 16 September 2008, which is Malaysia Day. Never mind, they will all come home on 20 September 2008. If Anwar misses the 16 September 2008 deadline because the Members of Parliament and the Agong have all been sent away, there is still 20 September 2008. On 20 September 2008, everyone, the Agong included, will be home to see the new government being formed.

In fact, 20 September 2008 may be a better day than 16 September 2008. 20 September is Reformasi Day. 20 September is the day, in 1998, when the Reformasi Movement was born. 20 September was the day they arrested Anwar and kept him in jail for six years. 20 September was the day Malaysians decided enough is enough and a change is necessary. 20 September was the day that saw the beginning of the end for Umno and Barisan Nasional. So what more apt day to choose to form the new government than on 20 September 2008, Reformasi Day?

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been persuaded to rejoin Umno. Tun will rejoin Umno and will support Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (left) in his bid to challenge Abdullah Badawi for the Umno Presidency. Umno is worried. They are worried that Malay political power will soon fall into the hands of the non-Malays. So they want the Malays to unite under a new Umno leadership so that the Malays can retain political power and the non-Malays will fail in their bid to wrest power from the Malays.

Khir Toyo (right) has warned that if Abdullah Badawi does not resign and hand over power to the new leadership, then expect another May 13. The 13 Umno Penang divisions, Abdullah Badawi’s home state, have warned the non-Malays not to ‘push’ the Malays. If they do then they do so at their own peril, warns the 13 Umno Penang divisions.

Umno wants Parti Gerakan to be sacked from Barisan Nasional. There is no need to sack Gerakan. Gerakan has already decided to leave Barisan Nasional anyway. What they don’t know yet is whether they will leave Barisan Nasional and remain an independent ‘third force’ or whether they will join Pakatan Rakyat in the opposition coalition.

MCA is also thinking seriously whether it still has a future in Barisan Nasional. They have thus far ‘severed ties’ with the Umno Bukit Bendera division chief. That is neither here nor there and an extremely weak attempt to demonstrate strength. MCA should severe ties with Umo Penang, like what Gerakan did, and not with just an individual who, after all, speaks not in his personal capacity but on behalf of Umno Penang, Abdullah Badawi’s home state.

Of late there has been much talk of May 13. Umno is playing this issue to the hilt. This is of course meant to frighten the non-Malay Members of Parliament into remaining in Barisan Nasional and not leave to join Pakatan Rakyat, a shotgun wedding of sorts. Will this frighten the non-Malays? Will this force them to remain in Barisan Nasional? Or will this, in fact, have the reverse affect and just convince the non-Malays that there is even more reason to leave Barisan Nasional and join Pakatan Rakyat.

If Umno wants to trigger another ‘May 13’ will they have the numbers? Will the military support another ‘May 13’ like it did in 1969? The scenario in 1969 was very different from the scenario today and, as the Malays would say, “Takkan pisang berbuah dua kali”. In English this could probably translate to ‘lightning does not strike twice in the same place’.

Umno has just come out with a new ruling for its branch meetings. The branches are required to have a quorum of 25% of its registered members to convene a meeting. Most branches have not been able to hold their meetings because they can’t get this quorum of 25%. That is all that is required, 25% of its registered members, but it can’t even get that.

And why is this? Is it because the members are not interested in the AGM? Not really. This year is election year and everyone is very interested. In fact, many branch AGMs have ended in fisticuffs, chair throwing and acid attacks because of the intense fighting at these branch AGMs. They are more than interested. They are concerned. But they can’t fulfil this 25% of registered members to make up a quorum because they just don’t have the members. The so-called registered members do not exist. Umno does not have the three million members it claims to have. It does not even have one million members. That is the reality and that is why they can’t even fulfil the 25% members quorum requirement.

In 1969, when you talk about the opposition, that would mean the non-Malays, and when you talk about the ruling party, that would mean the Malays. But that was 40 years ago. 40 years ago when you divide the country politically you invariably also divide the country racially. So, 40 years ago, it was very easy to divide the country by race when you divide the country by its politics.

Today, there are more Malays in the opposition then there are in the ruling party. Umno garnered only 51% of the Malay votes on 8 March 2008. In the Permatang Pauh by-election, 70% of the voters were Malays. About 78% of the non-Malay voters, who represent 30% of the total voters, voted for Anwar. But Anwar won two out of three votes or 66.6%. This means 76%-77% of the votes came from the Malays.

No, ‘May 13 Version 2’ can’t happen. The Malays do not feel that the non-Malays have taken over this country and have relegated them to second-class citizens. The Malays in Penang love their Chinese Chief Minister just like the Indians and Chinese in Perak love their PAS Menteri Besar. Malays in white skull caps wear DAP T-shirts. Indian-Hindu activists wear PAS T-shirts while screaming “Makkal Sakhti” followed by “Allah Akbar”.

“What about the army?” many concerned non-Malays ask. “Would they not be a cause for concern?” The nine Rulers are the Colonels-in-Chief of the Navy, Air Force, Infantry, Commandoes, Artillery, Malay Regiment, Engineering Corps, etc., while His Majesty the Agong is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. No, the military will not take to the streets and murder innocent civilians unless their Commanders tell them to do so. And the nine Rulers and His Majesty the Agong are not about to give that order under any circumstances.

Nevertheless, while Umno may not have the three million members it claims to have and while the military is not about to go on a rampage, we must not discount the possibility that certain irresponsible people who are frustrated that they are no longer in power may attempt to trigger race riots. And Anwar must guard against this. And if it is necessary to delay the takeover a couple more weeks or so just to ensure that these elements can be dealt with before they start their evil deeds then so be it. A delay of one month is no big deal if this can guarantee peace and stability.

This is all Malaysians ask from Anwar and nothing more than that. Guard against anything untoward happening. Only when the coast is clear should you make your move. There should be no bloodshed and loss of life. And ask the Malays in the opposition to come out in defence of their non-Malay brothers and sisters and warn the Umno Malays, in no uncertain terms, that they take to the streets at the risk of facing fellow Malays from the opposition who will defend their non-Malay brethren to the last drop of their blood. I, for one, am ready to stand by my Chinese and Indian comrades. So let Umno be warned.