Thursday, April 23, 2009

Between construction and destruction

Between construction and destruction
23 Apr, 2009

This is Anwar’s failure. He thinks he is a good leader because he can run the party all by himself. But this is not the mark of a good leader. A good leader is not one who can run the party all by himself. A good leader is one who can manage the people in the party.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Malaysia Today is supposed to be a no holds barred forum. This is where you can post your views and opinions without any censorship. I do try to maintain that. But there are times when I have to breach my own ‘code of ethics’, if I may be permitted to call it that for want of a better phrase, for the sake of the greater good.

This appears to be something many do not comprehend. How can you guarantee freedom of expression and yet at the same time block or delete postings and ban those who post whatever offends you? No, it is not what offends me that matter but what offends the majority. After all, is it not so that in a democracy the majority rules?

However, this is not to be confused with Barisan Nasional’s interpretation of ‘the majority rules’. According to Barisan Nasional, they won the most number of seats in the general election, so the majority of Malaysians support them. The minority who did not vote for them do not matter; only the majority matter.

That is not called democracy. That is called arrogance. First of all, every Malaysian is a taxpayer. Therefore, every Malaysian has rights; never mind who they support or may have voted for. There is nothing you touch that does not attract tax in some form or another. Even if you are not in the personal income tax bracket you still pay tax on all services and goods that you pay for.

A taxpayer, therefore, has rights, and his or her rights come with the tax that he or she pays and not according to the party that he or she voted for. Furthermore, Barisan Nasional may have won more than half (but less than two-thirds) of the seats in parliament. Nevertheless, it did so on only about half the popular votes. This means half the voters voted for the opposition.

In the 2008 general election, Barisan Nasional won 140 parliament seats and 307 state seats. Pakatan Rakyat won 82 parliament seats and 196 state seats. This was about 40% of the seats, across-the-board, for both parliament and state that Pakatan Rakyat won. Yet, Pakatan Rakyat garnered almost half the votes.

And we must not forget that only 7,944,274 votes were cast, which comes to only 29% or so of the Malaysian population. And Barisan Nasional won only 14.8% or 4,082,411 of the votes. How can Barisan Nasional argue that the majority of Malaysians voted for it when only 14.8% did so? This means 85.2% of Malaysians DID NOT vote for Barisan Nasional.

This is where the Barisan Nasional boast is full of flaws. And to say that since they won the majority number of seats this means the majority of Malaysians support the ruling party, so they can then do what they like, is total crap.

Anyway, back to the issue of freedom of expression in Malaysia Today. I too am not saying that the majority counts while the minority is not important. Those who comment are of course maybe 1% of those who read Malaysia Today. So they are certainly the minority. There are many more who read without commenting. Some actually read the comments and enjoy doing so. Some could not be bothered with the comments and only read the news or articles as they regard the comments as takde standard and a total waste of time.

I can always argue that if you don’t like the comments then don’t read them. Why read the comments and then get upset because you don’t like what you read? While readers are free to post comments, other readers are also free to not read them.

Tapi tak boleh. Gatal! You know the comments are ‘melampau’ or ‘unfair’ and you know that you are going to get upset if you read them. Yet you still read them -- and then get upset with what you read. Have you not heard of freedom of choice? You are free to not read the comments as much as those posting the comments are free to post what they want.

These readers are actually bringing it upon themselves. They know that Malaysia Today’s readers post melampau comments and yet they go and read those comments. They should just skip or boycott the comments and accept the fact that the comments are melampau and they will get upset if they read them. Then no need to go into all these problems.

Anyway, I think those who post melampau comments should step back awhile and look at the bigger picture. What are we trying to achieve here? We are trying to educate Malaysians about what is really happening in our country with the hope that they will join us to do something about it. We need change but we can’t initiate change all by ourselves. We need critical mass before we will be able to see change. And critical mass will only be achieved when all Malaysians stand united and speak as one voice.

We do not want Melayu bangkit a la Umno or Utusan Malaysia. We also do not want Indian Hindus bangkit a la HINDRAF. Umno and Hindraf are just both sides of the same coin. What about the Indian Muslims and the Indian Christians? They are not with HINDRAF. In fact, many Indian Muslims are with Umno. Those in KIMMA (Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress) want the word Mamak to be banned and for the Indian Muslims to be classified as Malays. They are certainly not with the opposition (they campaign for Barisan Nasional during the elections) and they are far from HINDRAF supporters.

So we need Malaysians to think and do things as Malaysians and not become compartmentalised -- not only into race, but broken down further into religion like Indian Hindus, Indian Muslims, Indian Christians, Chinese Christians, Chinese Muslims, Chinese Buddhists, and whatnot. How will we achieve Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s One-Malaysia this way?

And this brings us back to those who comment in Malaysia Today. When you indiscriminately whack Royalty or Sultans, you turn away many from the Royal Family who are pro-opposition and who share our aspirations to see Malaysia turned into a truly democratic society. Maybe you are angry with one Sultan or one particular Palace. But by whacking all Royalty, across-the-board, you antagonise the majority of those from the Royal Family who agree that this country has to change.

Marah nyamok, bakar kelambu, as the Malays would say. Or, cutting off the nose to spite the face, as the English ‘translation’ would go. You do more damage than good by blasting all and sundry for the actions of a very few. The issue is: are we seeking construction or destruction? We can’t construct by destructing. It just does not happen that way.

So, before you comment, think first. And think again and again. Then comment. We need everyone with us. But the manner in which some of you comment, you are driving people away. People who used to be with us are now against us. They see Malaysia Today as an anti-Islam, anti-Malay, anti-Monarchy, etc., site. Is this what we are trying to achieve? We are just anti-injustice, anti-persecution, anti-selective prosecution, anti-abuse of power, anti-corruption, anti-police brutality, anti-election rigging, anti-racial discrimination, and whatnot. We are not anti-Islam, anti-Malay or anti-Monarchy. But some of your postings give the impression otherwise.

Therefore, sometimes, our moderators have no choice but to delete postings, and in severe cases ban readers from commenting, when the comments bring more harm than good to the cause. Our cause is to unite decent Malaysians who wish to see positive changes in this country. But if, instead, the postings bring destruction to the cause, then the freedom of expression of the individual needs to be sacrificed for the greater good of the majority who wish to sincerely fight for positive change.

And, no, Malaysia Today is not pro-opposition and anti-government per se. After all, not all states are under Barisan Nasional. Some are under Pakatan Rakyat. So Pakatan Rakyat is also the government. And we do criticise state governments as well, meaning Pakatan Rakyat. The only thing is, Barisan Nasional has been in power for 52 years while Pakatan Rakyat, with the exception of Kelantan, has been in power for just over a year. So there is more to criticise Barisan Nasional then there is to criticise Pakatan Rakyat. But even with just one year as the state governments there are already enough to criticise Pakatan Rakyat.

For example, Anwar Ibrahim is running Parti Keadilan Rakyat like it is his personal fiefdom. Maybe ten years ago, back in 1999, this would have been possible. Then, Parti Keadilan was like a sundry shop. So you can run it like a sundry shop.

However, since the last ten years, Parti Keadilan has grown from a sundry shop into a hypermarket. But Anwar is still running the party like it is a sundry shop, not like the hypermarket that it has grown to become.

This is Anwar’s failure. He thinks he is a good leader because he can run the party all by himself. But this is not the mark of a good leader. A good leader is not one who can run the party all by himself. A good leader is one who can manage the people in the party.

Anwar must learn about people management. He must learn how to manage people and allow these people to run the party. There are many talents in the party. Delegate to these talents and let them run the party using their good judgement and wise discretion. That is the mark of a good leader.

Of course, we cannot allow them a free rein or else we shall create what ex-Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called Little Napoleons. Everyone must be given a term of reference, limit of authority and area of responsibility. And these people must work within these references, limits and boundaries or else be taken to task for exceeding their authority.

Now, is it not better that I criticise Anwar in that manner rather than whack him by calling him a stupid Mamak and all that? We want Anwar to listen and to act on what we say. We don’t want our statements to antagonise the Indian Muslims and drive them into the arms if KIMMA, and therefore into the arms of Barisan Nasional.

Okay, and with that, happy commenting. But please think before you comment. Comment to construct, not to destruct, or else I will kick your ass real hard and proper.

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