Friday, February 12, 2010

The sins of the father and all that crap

"If indeed, the government is in anyway implicated in the physical and mental distress of Raja Azman, simply for the sake of getting back at RPK, then it deserves nothing less then the curse of the whole nation upon it."

RPK and his son
by Suflan Shamsuddin | The Malaysian Insider

FEB 11 — Yesterday, Malaysia Today published an article stating that RPK’s lawyers met his son, Raja Azman (left) at Sungai Buloh Hospital. They confirmed that his son, who is currently in remand, had slashed his wrist and swallowed a razor blade. Raja Azman broke down and cried saying that he could no longer stand the physical and mental torture that he was subjected to in jail, and that he wanted ‘out’. And the only way out to him is to end his life.

RPK’s fugitive status arose out of him not making himself available to attend trials relating to charges for criminal defamation and sedition, and the prosecution’s appeal against his ISA release. Having languished in detention twice under wildly draconian and discretionary laws, in both cases subjected to police custody in solitary confinement in locations unknown and in cells no larger than the size of my toilet, never seeing the light of day for days on end, and never knowing where he is, would you not share his sense of impending rough justice, and be tempted to do the same thing, were you to have been in his shoes?

His real major ‘crime’ was to suggest in a Statutory Declaration published in the Internet that there were others involved in the murder of Altantuuya. But in his writings, RPK claims that it was not him that leaked this SD. In fact, his lawyers had handed over the SD to the prosecution team in person and in strict confidence with the hope of convincing them to expand their investigations. However the SD had been leaked by a blogger who disliked RPK, as a result of which RPK was charged for criminal defamation.

Had the leak not happened, RPK would have had considerably less ‘heat’ on his back. He might have found the situation sufficiently manageable and taken his chances in court on the remaining legal matters. He might have remained in KL a free man, having roti canai and teh tarik with his friends, probably bitching about the government, but with his life and that of his family intact.

Instead he has imposed self-exile upon himself and most of his family, and taken himself out of the public sphere in order to continue his cause to speak out against matters for which he continues to feel strongly. And the rhetoric from those who want him brought down has grown stronger and bolder.

RPK by Art Harun

No matter how you look at it, RPK’s actions are not that of a heinous and evil nature that befits the tag of being a vicious criminal. After all, at the end of the day, no matter whether one agrees with him, or condones the expressive language he uses, or questions his motives, countless of millions of Malaysians all share a common desire with him. And that is to see meaningful change to greater transparency, accountability, and tolerance in the country.

We all want integrity in government and the recognition that the government is there to serve the Rakyat and not the other way round. And so no matter what discretion and authority the government might avail to make him out to be a criminal, there are millions of Malaysians who will not care. Instead, they would have lit a virtual candle in a quiet part of their soul for him, as a tribute to this man who they believe has put everything on the line, for the sake of doing that which they cannot do, in order that they benefit from a better Malaysia.

For certain, the price he has paid for the choices he has taken far exceeds what most people would be willing to pay. And the frightening cloak and dagger, cat and mouse game he plays with the authorities is presumably part of that bargain. And somehow, this game between RPK and the authorities, as to which fox outwits the other, is played with some basic ‘law of the jungle’-sense of fairness. And so the dispassionate onlooker might see ultimate victory and defeat as fair game to either side.

But when a son becomes a pawn or collateral damage in this game, then the dynamics shift. The lack of gamesmanship that this suggests to any onlooker is deplorable and sickening.

If indeed, the government is in anyway implicated in the physical and mental distress of Raja Azman, simply for the sake of getting back at RPK, then it deserves nothing less then the curse of the whole nation upon it. Were this to be the case, the people will damn this government in everyway it can, and those involved, for such a cowardly and shameful act. I am reasonably sure that every moment RPK and his family is tormented by the uncertainty of his son’s fate, millions of Malaysians around the world will be similarly tormented alongside them in sympathy for the pain that only a father, a mother or a member of the family can feel under such circumstances.

I implore the world media to pick up this story and help uncover what has really happened to Raja Azman, and truly find out how is he being treated.

I beseech the government to clarify his condition and the circumstances under which he has been looked after. Prove to the people that the government is beyond reproach in this matter.

Let this not end in a tragedy for a family and a tragedy for the nation.

Suflan Shamsuddin qualified as a barrister at law from Middle Temple and has been called to the Malaysian Bar. He is currently working in a Fortune 500 company as a senior counsel and is based in London. He is also author of the book “RESET: Rethinking the Malaysian Political Paradigm.”