By Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 14 March 2016

Having put up a defence for RPK when he was under attack by the NST in 2010 (LOOKING FOR THE GOOD IN RPK, Malaysia Today, 5 Jan 2010), I am obliged to pose some queries about his perplexing volte face. His latest interview with NST (10 March 2016) gives us a good opportunity to examine his consistency or otherwise.

When RPK was being pilloried by the NST in 2010, I lauded his efforts of the last decade:
“Cyber anarchist would be an apt epithet to confer upon him for he has done more than any politician in this country to expose the illegitimate institutions of the Malaysian state…RPK has gone beyond the sociological theses about the shared interests of the ruling elite – he has literally stripped bare the integuments of the Malaysian state; exposed the machinations of the police and shameful harassment of whistleblowers.”

I further described RPK as the “nemesis of bumiputeraism”: “He taunts them in cyberspace all the way to hell. You couldn’t find a more exemplary model of the rational, non-racist Malaysian intellectual who is not afraid to castigate not only the ruling class but also the spineless and the opportunists in ALL the ethnic communities in Malaysia.”

Whether I will have to eat my words written in 2010 will depend on how RPK responds to these queries in the minds of many Malaysians today…

When did RPK’s disaffection with the Opposition start?
Having worked so many years in the “Free Anwar” campaign, it makes many Malaysians wonder how RPK suddenly in 2010 decided to launch his anti-Anwar campaign. To try to understand his current support for Najib, I am interested to know his analysis and views on UMNO during those years when he supported the Reformasi campaign. Was he, for example, already a “Malay nationalist” of the type he now describes himself and which we will examine below?

In the NST interview, RPK said:
“It was around that time, since 2010-2011, that I began to question many things involving politics and religion. I no longer accepted what could be described as mainstream beliefs…And this is what the opposition cannot accept about me, my unorthodoxies. And that was why they opposed the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) when it was launched in late 2010. They did not know what to expect and it is a natural human instinct to fear the unknown. So they opposed the MCLM and condemned me for what they viewed as an attempt at creating competition for the opposition…So when I revealed the truth behind the real face of the opposition, and when I exposed Anwar Ibrahim for the fraud that he is, the opposition people cannot accept this truth…it was Anwar Ibrahim who first declared war on me in 2010.”

“One of the key issues in my disagreement with Anwar was his agree to disagree policy and his refusal to resolve many disagreements in the opposition, the Hudud issue being one of them. I said that if he does not address this issue then one day soon Pakatan Rakyat would disintegrate. And for that he attacked me. And now have I not been proven right? Has Pakatan Rakyat not disintegrated? So why can’t I oppose Anwar when he is the cause of the disaster and when I had already warned him and he declared war on me because I had brought his matter up.”

Does disaffection with Opposition necessarily mean support for Najib?
OK. So RPK had some grounds for being disaffected with Anwar and the Opposition coalition over the latter’s prejudice against the “Third Force” that RPK and others including Haris Ibrahim were trying to create after 2008. But does that mean he should make a complete volte face and support the man he once opposed, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak?

What political stand and reform ideas did MCLM have that led RPK and others to oppose Najib in the first place? It could surely not have just been a polarity response that people adopt just to spite the ones who do not see eye to eye with them!

Incidentally, the “Peoples’ Declaration” of the MCLM seems to have been obliterated from cyberspace just like Altantuya’s immigration records. I tried to google Malaysia Today as well as Haris Ibrahim’s blog to see if I could see what reforms had been proposed by this “Third Force” but to no avail.

Is RPK a rational, non-racist Malaysian intellectual?
In 2010 I described him as the “nemesis of bumiputeraism … You couldn’t find a more exemplary model of the rational, non-racist Malaysian intellectual.” In his latest NST interview, he maintains:

“It never occurred to them that we are supporting the government because we want to make sure that the Chinese DAP-led opposition would not grab power and set up a Chinese DAP-dominated government with Malays from Amanah and PKR as their proxies and puppets. And when I say that, they call me a racist. So I am a Malay nationalist. So what? Why does that make me a racist? The Scots, Welsh and Irish are nationalists as well…there is nothing wrong with being a nationalist and you should be proud of it. So I am nationalist Malay and am proud of it. And if you find that offensive that is your problem not mine. First close down all your Chinese and Tamil schools before coming to talk to me about ‘there should be no Malays, Chinese and Indians but only Malaysians’…So why can’t I tell the Malays you must support Umno or else you are a traitor to the Malay race? What makes them right and me wrong?”

First of all, it is interesting to note that while before, RPK could conceive of a “Third Force”, now he tells the Malays: “You must support Umno or else you are a traitor to the Malay race…” For him, now in 2016, it seems he cannot fathom any other alternative! For him, UMNO are the only “Malay nationalists” (sic).

For all his Oxford education, can RPK tell me if UMNO is comparable with for example, the Scottish National Party? Does the SNP subscribe to “Scottish dominance” along the lines of “Ketuanan Melayu”? I think not. Does the SNP subscribe to racism and racial discrimination like we have in this country? I think not.

So what happened to all the solutions the MCLM had to reform Malaysia? Surely they did not include such exclusive Malay-supremacist objectives including closing down Chinese and Tamil schools? Does RPK regret having left his “Malay nationalist” aspirations in suspension all those years of the Reformasi movement and the MCLM? Has he been a crypto-Malay supremacist all those years and even fooled me into thinking he was the “nemesis of bumiputeraism”?

Unfortunately, it looks like I might have to eat my words after all …