RPK & Haris Ibrahim - a great partnership in the newly formed MCLM but which future now holds a big question mark!
The Malaysian Insider (TMI) article MCLM president quits, says undermined by RPK reported that Haris Ibrahim tendered his resignation as president of the MCLM, after citing as reasons for his decision two of RPK’s recent and very damning interviews – see my previous post RPK amputates 'gangrenous' Anwar Ibrahim from Pakatan?
Brother Haris resigned as MCLM’s president because he has been terribly upset by RPK’s:
(1) unilateral assertion (meaning minus prior consultation & agreement with Haris & other MCLM office holders) that The Rights group (MCLM) is not a 3rd force and therefore would not contest the next general election, and
(2) remarks that ‘the Egypt-style people’s revolution was not an answer for Malaysia due to the delicate racial balance’ because according to RPK, “they (Chinese voters) don’t want Tahrir Square type of change”, saddening Haris because according to him “... my friend (Raja Petra) should continue to see us as Malays, Chinese, Indians, dll (others).”
The overall effect, according to Haris, has basically put a spanner in his (Haris’) ABU campaign.
I lament the end of a great RPK-Haris Ibrahim partnership in MCLM, a movement to promote good parliamentarians and parliamentary practice of first class Westminster-type democracy.
But is there any hope of salvaging the relationship and the impetus of MCLM?
Before I comment on that, let me provide my personal take on the two protagonists.
Let me start with RPK.
I came to know of (rather than ‘know’ per se) RPK in 2005 when I, influenced very much by Jeff Ooi's blogging, started blogging under the mentorship of my erstwhile partner, Mr X, at the BolehTalk blog.
Then, after I posted a piece critical of Anwar Ibrahim, much to the consternation of my partner and friends wakakaka, RPK contacted me by email with a brief message which I replied with courtesy and kept its contents confidential for the last 7 years. Thereafter we have had no further person-to-person contact.
Out of respect for confidentiality, as should be observed in any private correspondence, I have no intention of ever revealing that message.
As I had written before, cynical kaytee hasn’t been and isn’t exactly a bloke known to be particularly fond of RPK personally (I treat him with clinical neutrality), though of course I do admire, respect and am a wee envious of his creativity and ability to influence many politically.
But I do not always agree with his arguments, for example, those relating to his inflammatory Stat Dec and his take on Ombudsman. I’ve written several posts to disagree with the former – see my post RPK a willing captive in his statutory declaration and ...
... shot him down on the latter when sometime immediately after the March 2008 GE, he wrote about instituting an ombudsman (or committee) for the then 5 States under the DAP-PKR-PAS governments. But what took my breath away was his over-the-top proposal when he stated (for some obscure reasons):
“The Ombudsman must be above the Chief Minister and Menteri Besar. It must have the power and authority to summon even the highest man in the state to come before the committee for questioning on anything at all that may be perceived as wrongdoing, transgressions, deviations, etc. And the Ombudsman must have the power and authority to recommend the removal of any public servant or politician who may have committed a breach of discipline, even if he is the Chief Minister/Menteri Besar.”
I was totally flabbergasted by his remarks of "... above the Chief Minister and Menteri Besar ..." and the accompanying power-this and power-that for the proposed ombudsman.
I then wrote: This is going too far, putting an unelected person above the elected representatives of the people!
Mind, this seems to be a common problem suffered occasionally by very learned people, both in BN and Pakatan, where I'm more critical of the latter who promoted and supported frog-ology, yes, even a DAP sweetie like Hannah Yeo who broke my heart when she wrote in defence of Mr man man lai’s 916 attempted but failed coup d’état.
I wrote that having an Ombudsman establishment a la RPK’s proposal would not be unlike instituting the structure of the Iranian government, where the unelected clerical Supreme Leader and the Assembly of Elders in Iran can overrule decisions and policies of the elected President and the Majles (Parliament).
In my post I left a message for RPK to ‘keep my ombudsman steak medium rare please’ so as not to overcook the new (Ombudsman) meal by making him/her into a pseudo-Ayatollah with supra-constitutional powers over the people's democratically elected representatives – for more read my post Post election snippets (1).
Now you know why Karpal Singh is my spiritual leader in politics.
To summarize on RPK, I respect and admire him, but would accept his arguments only after I have personally analyzed their merits, unlike those who gushingly called him ‘The Great RPK’ or even fawningly ‘yang sangat mulia’ wakakaka when he sang songs they loved to hear, but alas, denigrated him as a ‘turncoat, traitor, UMNO paid bum, etc’ when he didn't.
As for Brother Haris Ibrahim, what can I say about this wonderful man, other than he is a sincere socio-political activist who’s brave, dedicated, self-sacrificing and straight talking – so straight that people could use his character to calibrate rulers.
Do you realize that I once disliked him wakakaka, much to the distress of my blogging matey, Lucia Lai of Mental Jog blog. Then one day, Haris wrote a piece titled Jambuism, and in that process, indirectly revealed to me his intrinsic character, as epitomised by his perception of God.
As I wrote in my response Omnia Vincit Jambuism:
Strangely (or should it be) for an atheist I find God’s judgement as presented by Haris very touching. If there is a God ;-), surely Haris’ version has to be the true one - One who is kind, just, loving, compassionate, humorous, and definitely One confidently above silly (human projected) petty nonsensical jealousy.
I am reminded of a quote by one of the Hindu Trinity, Krishna who said “Whoever you pray to, it is I who will answer”.
But the story of Jambuism also tells me a little about the author, and I now look at him differently. Yes, I now like him ;-)
Okay, now you know how my dice (for those two) would fall, but having said all these, my opinion on Brother Haris' complaints against RPK turns out to be a 50:50 split, as follows:
I support Haris in that RPK should not have arbitrarily decided on MCLM’s behalf (that it won’t contest in the coming GE) without prior consultation with Haris and other MCLM office bearers. In this, RPK has been arrogant and insensitive in ignoring that the president of MCLM possesses the right and courtesy to be consulted prior to such important public announcement.
However, on the second point vis-à-vis RPK’s remarks that ‘the Egypt-style people’s revolution was not an answer for Malaysia due to the delicate racial balance’ and that “... (Chinese voters) don’t want Tahrir Square type of change”, I support RPK.
Much as Brother Haris may be striving for the idealistic non-ethnic approach. and I truly admire him for this, I reckon RPK has been realistic in stating an important truth, that (reading beyond his straightforward statement of our ‘delicate racial balance’) the Malays, and not just UMNO Malays, are unlikely to accept any Tahrir Square type of revolutionary protests, regardless of the worthiness of the cause or even if PAS or Anwar Ibrahim organizes them, if they believe or are made to believe the Chinese are behind the revolt against the BN government.
And we know UMNO will present it as a violent Chinese (throw in the communist for good measure) coup d’état to overthrow and remove the Malays' sacred cow (removed a la NFC's management? wakakaka), namely their agama, raja dan bangsa.
Haven’t various UMNO people (including big names) already and repetitively primed the heartland on this 'threat', of the Chinese potential and aim to take over the country (and instal a Christian PM), preposterous as its likelihood may be?
Recalling my question: But is there any hope to salvage the RPK-Haris Ibrahim relationship?
The ball lies in RPK’s court, to apologize to Haris for not consulting him on saying MCLM will not field a candidate in GE-13.