It’s All In The Game

Yes; that is what politics is all about: the pursuit of power. Of course, they talk about causes and struggles. But the ‘cause’ is simple: the pursuit of power. And the ‘struggle’ is merely a power struggle, nothing more, nothing less.

You may have been facing a lot of problems getting into our site since more than a week ago. First, a hacker hit us and you probably saw a picture of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in battle fatigues on our front page. That, basically, was a message from my adversaries that they ‘know’ Mahathir is behind Malaysia Today.

Yes, since mid-2006, I have been meeting Mahathir in his house, his Petronas office at the KLCC, as well as his office at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya. I am also very close to other Mahathir loyalists such as Sufi and Matthias, not to mention his children, in particular Mukhriz and Marina. Malaysia Today also co-sponsored the first dialogue with Mahathir in the Kelab Century Paradise two years ago when he ‘declared war’ on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and the day he launched his first strike. Further to that, Malaysia Today webcasted, live, Mahathir’s talk in Kota Bharu, the day he was attacked with mace.

Many, Anwar Ibrahim included, say that I have now ‘turned’ and have sold out to Mahathir. They view my ‘relationship’ with Mahathir as suspect and can only be because I now ‘serve a new master’. The talk in town is that I have had a falling out with Anwar and that is why I have now ‘crossed-over’ to Mahathir. Or maybe I am so short of cash so I have ‘sold my soul’ to Mahathir for a great sum of money.

How narrow-minded these people are. If you are with me, then you are a great guy. But if you are with the ‘other side’, then you must have sold out for money. Why is it if I openly express my support for Anwar then I am a great guy? Could it not be I am supporting Anwar because I have been paid a lot of money? Why when I support Anwar I am doing it free-of-charge and for a cause, but if I support Mahathir instead, then it can only be for money and for no other reason. Can’t I also support Anwar and ‘sell my soul’ to Anwar for money as well? But, no! If I support Anwar it can never be for money. It can only be for the cause. Only if I support Mahathir can it be for money.

Actually, I do not support either Anwar or Mahathir. The personalities are not who I support. I support the issues. And that is what all our readers should do as well: support the issues, not the person. People come and go. People change. People ‘cross over’. How can we support one person and then oppose that person when he or she changes his or her stand. If we support the person, then we should support the person all the way, even when that person crosses over. The fact that we will abandon someone when that person changes his or her stand or crosses over means we do not support him or her as such but only what he or she stands for.

Take Ezam Mohd Noor as an example. He was revered when he opposed Umno and fought against corruption. He was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and was jailed under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) even before his ISA detention could end. He was considered a hero. Many stood by him. But when he resigned from the party and later joined Umno, he was defiled and called a traitor. That means most people never really supported him. They supported what he stood for. But when he changed his stand and crossed over to Umno, the support ended. He is now a man hated by the very people who treated him like a demigod all this while.

It is dangerous to support someone for personality cult reasons. You only support his or her cause or stand. And if his or her cause dovetails with yours, well and fine. If not, then you must be matured and civilised enough to disagree, while continuing to respect his or her cause or stand, in spite of it being opposite to yours. In that same spirit, you may not like that person, but if his or her cause is the same as yours, you must be able to see eye-to-eye only as far as the cause or stand is concerned, while you can agree to disagree on all other issues which you feel are contrary to yours.

My cause or stand is simple. I am not anti-government. I am not also pro-government. Barisan Nasional is the government at federal level and in many of the states. Pakatan Rakyat, in turn, is the government in five states. In that sense, both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat are simultaneously the government as well as the opposition, depending on where you happen to be at that point of time. What I am is I am pro-rakyat and anti-exploitation of rakyat. It does not matter who the government is. Be it Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, my stand remains the same for both.

Both sides of the political divide have been grossly exploiting the rakyat these last 51 years. Be it Umno, MCA, MIC, Gerakan, PKR, DAP, PAS, or any of the other dozen or so political parties, they have used the rakyat in their political game and in the pursuit of power. Yes; that is what politics is all about: the pursuit of power. Of course, they talk about causes and struggles. But the ‘cause’ is simple: the pursuit of power. And the ‘struggle’ is merely a power struggle, nothing more, nothing less.

Never mind who they are. Never mind who is leading these various political parties. They all aim for one thing: to get into power. And they will use the rakyat to gain power because only the rakyat can give them this power. The rakyat is lied to. The rakyat is cheated. The rakyat is being made a fool. And the gullible rakyat will swallow everything the politicians say; hook, line and sinker; thinking that those who offer themselves to serve the rakyat do so for only one reason, to serve the rakyat, whereas serving the rakyat is the farthest thing from their minds.

Today, we are divided like we have never been divided before. Sure, we have not seen a race riot the likes of ‘May 13’ for almost 40 years now. But this does not mean we love each other. It only means we still hate each other but we are too scared to do anything about it lest we suffer reprisals. Even in the opposition they still talk about race. They still demand race-based quotas. So Barisan Nasional is not the only culprit in this race game. Everyone is equally guilty.

Sure, Barisan Nasional plays the race game to the hilt. But the opposition doesn’t really mind. In fact, they love it because the more Barisan Nasional plays the race game the more they can exploit the issue to their benefit. Does the opposition want the race game to end? Of course they do not. If Barisan Nasional stops playing the race game then what is the opposition going to use against the ruling coalition? No, Barisan Nasional must continue playing the race game, never mind how dangerous this may be. It helps the opposition when Barisan Nasional plays the race game. The opposition can then continue harping on how bad Barisan Nasional is to get the support of the rakyat who hate this race game.

If the opposition is not also playing the race game why does it matter who is the Menteri Besar or Chief Minister? Does it matter if he is Malay, Chinese or Indian? Does it even matter if it is a he or she? And why must there be five Malay, three Chinese and two Indian EXCO Members? Why can’t all EXCO Members be of one race? So we have ten Indian EXCO members and a Chinese Menteri Besar in a ‘Malay’ state. So what? Why make a big deal out of it?

But no, the positions must be race-based and must be according to the ‘agreed race quota’. Anything less will be unacceptable. To do otherwise means the coalition needs to be disbanded. We will cooperate only if our race is represented. And no other race can represent us. Someone from our own race must be that representative. And this is the opposition talking, not Barisan Nasional.

Yes, the rakyat is being exploited. And everyone is exploiting the rakyat, both sides of the political divide. And both sides benefit when the race game continues. No, the opposition does not want to see race-based politics end. It is of no benefit to the opposition if the race game ends. The opposition becomes stronger when racial politics escalates. On the other hand, the opposition would become irrelevant if racial politics ends.

So, no, I am not pro-opposition or anti-government, or the other way around. I am pro-rakyat and anti-exploitation of the rakyat. And both sides are playing the same game so how can I align myself to any one side? Be it Anwar or Mahathir — or Pak Lah, Najib, Ku Li, etc. — the same applies. And thus far no one appears to have abandoned the race game. So, until they do, we must think of the rakyat first and these leaders second. And that means I will continue meeting all these leaders, irrespective of who they are. But this in no way means I am favouring one over the other. Meeting them just means I want to know how they tick. And Malaysia Today will continue offering itself as a platform for them to speak out, even if I do not agree with what they stand for.

Anyway, in the meantime, I have other pressing problems on my mind. Malaysia Today is still very sluggish and extremely difficult to access. Our team is trying to resolve the matter and has been working around the clock for more than a week in an attempt to tackle the problem. It may mean we have to invest more money, which I do not have, into upgrading our facilities. Compounding this problem is the ‘road-block’ we are facing. The government is blocking our site and this makes the task even more complex.

Is that bad news or good news? I suppose the good news is the government views us a real threat, warranting the special operation to shut us down. The bad news is if I can’t overcome the problem then the government may win in the end. At this point of time I seriously do not know what the end result is going to be.

This post was first published in Malaysia Today by Raja Petra Kamaruddin. It is reproduced here with permission.

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