NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
There appears to be an interesting debate going on regarding the recent Sabah crossovers and the anticipated crossovers still to come. Let us review the various opinions on the matter.
Some are of the opinion that all is fair in love and war. Hence crossovers would be just one of the many tactics of war, which would be considered fair.
Some are of the opinion that crossovers, although not illegal, is morally wrong. So never mind from which side to which side you cross over.
Some are of the opinion that crossovers from the opposition side of the fence to the government bench is wrong while crossovers from the government side of the fence to the opposition bench is right.
Whatever it may be, until such a time that a law is passed making crossovers a ‘crime’ — whereas you would automatically lose your seat if you resign or get sacked from your party (both Parliament as well as State Assembly) — crossovers can only be judged right or wrong from the moral aspect and not for the legal aspect.
Nevertheless, the passing of such a law can never fully resolve the matter. For example, what if you are not awakil rakyat and therefore do not have a seat? You can still cross over and not lose your seat since you do not have one. But I suppose most people are only concerned about the crossovers of those who are wakil rakyatbecause such crossovers can result in the government changing hands, like what has happened in Perak recently and in Sabah a few times in the past. Hence anti-hopping laws would probably help resolve the matter to a certain extent because if you do not have a seat then your cross over would not really be that valuable and no one is going to be bothered much.
Most Malaysians conclude that crossovers must be about money. You must have received quite a large inducement or financial reward to want to cross over. Hence those who cross over from the opposition to the government bench would be viewed as morally corrupt people and would be called frogs, traitors, turncoats, etc. The assumption would be that they were bought or paid to cross over.
If the crossover were the opposite — that is, from the government to the opposition — then no one would conclude that it is also about money. The assumption would be that the opposition does not have that kind of money to be able to afford to buy people or the opposition is too principled to resort to the same tactics employed by the government.
I am, of course, looking at things from the opposition perspective. No doubt, if you were to talk to a government supporter, you will find that they have the reverse opinion to that of the opposition supporters, which would be quite natural and understandable. Your perspective will be influenced by the position you take.
Politics is not the only place where you will find a conflict of moral values. And politics is not the only place where you will find that moral values are influenced or dictated by your beliefs. This syndrome is even more visible in matters concerning religion. And that is why when religion is packaged with politics you will find that it can be a very potent combination.
For example, say a Muslim commits apostasy and becomes a Christian. A fellow Muslim would regard such a person as a murtad and classify that person as kafir (infidel). To this person’s (ex-) fellow Muslims, he or she is doomed for hell.
The Christians, however, would regard this new convert as a saved soul. He or she is not an infidel at all. They would say that Jesus loves him or her and that is why he or she has been blessed in being able to see the light.
Hence, one man’s saved soul is another man’s condemned soul.
Let us say it is the other way around, a Christian becomes a Muslim. Then this ex-Christian would be regarded as a saudara/saudari baru (new comrade) who has been blessed by Allah. Allah has seen fit to open his or her heart to the truth. Allah has chosen this ex-Christian to become one of the citizens of heaven.
Which of the two hypotheses is the correct one? I suppose if you are a Jew then you will say both the Christians as well as the Muslims are wrong. But the Christians will argue that they are right while the Muslims will also argue that they are right. Both will never admit that they might be wrong while the other side is right, naturally.
Hence, since the moral values attached to a certain action will be determined by your belief system, this will be a debate with no winners or losers. Right would depend on what you believe while wrong would depend on what goes against your belief.
And this is a concept that most Malaysians have not been able to grasp yet. They adopt a moral value that is compatible to their belief system. And they judge a certain action by what they believe in. And they will always consider their belief as the correct belief and thus anything that contradicts this belief must certainly be wrong.
Muslims will regard the drinking of wine as a sin and thus morally wrong. To the Christians, drinking wine is part of a religious ritual that strengthens your faith. Hindus would regard the slaughtering of cows and eating the meat after that as not kosher. Muslims regard that particular act as a noble religious ritual that would be blessed by Allah.
Doctrine, dogma, beliefs, priorities, etc., play a very prominent role on what you would regard as moral and what you would regard as immoral. And whether it involves politics or religion it would both be the same.
The Pakatan Rakyat supporters attach certain moral values to their cause. These would include an end to corruption and abuse of power, transparency and good governance, justice and equally for all races, etc., as their primary objectives. These are certainly very noble values that we all share and issues that I too have personally been advocating. But just because those are our values, we assume that everyone else shares these same values and hence if they do not then they are corrupt human beings.
Hence, are we judging fellow Malaysians too harshly by condemning them for what we view as having no principles? They do have principles, as much as we might think they do not, and their principle is to make sure that their family can live a decent life in a world where materialism is the order of the day.
I have seen comments that say the Malays are stupid or the natives of East Malaysia are stupid for supporting Barisan Nasional. Is it their stupidity or their needs that make them do what they do? And if money becomes the motivating factor that drives them, who are we to declare that they have no principles? They do have principles. It is only that their principles differ from ours. And their principle is the family comes first.
The British faced the same problem in Malaya during the Emergency. The Chinese were supporting the Communist Terrorists (CTs) and were supplying them with food and medicine. Roadblocks were set up all over Malaya to stop cars and to confiscate any food, medicine, etc., found in the cars so that the CTs could not get their hands on them.
The problem was a Chinese problem and not a Malay problem because the CTs harassed the Chinese and not so much the Malays. Somehow, they left the Malays alone although there were Malays in the CTs as well.
Eventually, the British had to relocate the Chinese into new villages that were cordoned with barbed wire. The army patrolled these Chinese new villages and a dusk to dawn curfew was imposed so that the CTs could not communicate with the Chinese.
Why did the Chinese support the CTs? Were all Malaysian Chinese Communists?
It was a matter of life and death. Most Chinese did not believe in Communism. In fact, many Malayan Chinese raised money to support Chiang Kai-shek’s war against the Communists. So, in that sense, they were anti-Communist.
But if most Malayan Chinese were anti-Communist and even raised money for the Chinese Nationalist army, why were they supplying food and medicine to the CTs to the extent that the British had to lock them up in new villages? Would this not show that the Chinese had no principles? On the one hand, in China, they support the Nationalists against the Communists. On the other hand, in Malaya, they support the Communists? What kind of ‘principle’ is that?
The answer is simple. In China it was about ideals. In Malaya it was about the safety of you and your family. Hence your family’s welfare overrides ideals. And the British realised this. Hence they locked up the Chinese into new villages so that the CTs could not threaten their safety. Once safe, the Chinese no longer supported the CTs and that was why Communism failed to gain a foothold in Malaya.
Hence, also, to say that the Chinese have no principles would be wrong. The overriding principle of the Chinese then was to stay safe and secure and ensure that your family is not harmed.
So why are some ‘stupid’ people from the kampungs and from East Malaysia supporting Barisan Nasional? That can probably be another discussion for another time but if I really need to reply to that question then many of you are truly novices as I thought you are.