RPK on Turning 60: What’s Next

October 11, 2010

source: The Corridors of Power at http://www.malaysia-today.net

On Turning 60:  Random Thoughts of My Friend, Raja Petra Kamaruddin in the United Kingdom

by Raja Petra Kamaruddin

“Malaysia needs change. Initially we thought that Pakatan Rakyat would be that agent for change. But after more than two years we are not seeing Pakatan Rakyat walk the talk. And because of events like the Selangor PAS internal skirmish between the liberals and the conservatives, the Selangor DAP mud slinging, the Perak DAP public quarrel, and now the PKR party election fiasco, it appears like the three Pakatan Rakyat parties are no different from the parties in the Barisan Nasional coalition.”–RPK


Raja Petra and Marina Petra--Two Special People


Later today I am going home. I spent the last ten days in London to attend the October 2 talk with Anwar Ibrahim, Tian Chua and Tunku Abdul Aziz and to confer with friends and associates to discuss what the future holds for all of us. That is why you have not heard from me for about week now, other than the MACC revelations in The Corridors of Power.

Turning 6o and what’s next ?

As you may be aware, I also celebrated my 60th birthday on September 27, and my friends chipped in to buy me a birthday present, a Roland electronic drum set. I suppose I am going to spend more time polishing up on my drumming rather than writing articles. Anyway, I shall try to balance my time so that my drumming does not cause my writing to suffer. My friends have threatened to repossess the drum set if I start slacking in my writing.

I am now eligible for a ‘freedom pass’ so I can actually ride the public transport either free of charge or on a discounted fare. I am also eligible for many other free services and discounts, even when I go to the cinema. So life of a 60 year old is pretty nifty here in the UK with my senior citizen status.

I consider myself at the crossroads of my life, not just because I am now 60 but because of the current developments in Malaysia. And that is why I decided to take a ten-day break and just chill out and jam. As I write this I am awaiting the rest of the gang who are coming over to jam. We may even put on a show at the end of next month for a farewell gig for one of our friends who will be leaving for home after spending more than a decade working outside Malaysia.

Divided on What’s Next

My friends, associates and family are quite divided on what I should do from here on. I am not in a hurry to go back to Malaysia. I have a house here and am quite comfortable in my new surroundings, the country of my birth. I do still have family in Malaysia. But I also have many family members here in the UK — brother, sisters, cousins, children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and their children who would be my cucu saudara. So I am not quite alone or detached from the family.

The question would be where I would want to be buried. My mother and my maternal grandparents are buried here. My father and my paternal grandparents are buried in Malaysia. So does it really matter where my final resting place is going to be? One place is as good as another and once you are no longer a member of this world it really does not matter too much when you would not be aware of it anyway.

I am going to reflect on the situation these next two months till the end of November. In December, subject to what happens over these two months, I shall have to make my decision. And in January, whatever that decision may be, I shall embark on the next phase of my life. What that decision is going to be will all depend on what I see over these two months.

Committed to The People’s Declaration

I am still committed to The Peoples’ Declaration. That is going to be the foundation of what I embark upon. I believe that Malaysia needs reforms and The Peoples’ Declaration clearly spells out what these reforms should be. And I am prepared to work with any group, movement or political party that can commit itself to these reforms.

I earlier spoke about the Third Force. This idea has met with mixed reactions. The Third Force can be anything. It can be a political party. It can be a movement. Or it can simply be a group of like-minded Malaysians who share the aspirations defined by The Peoples’ Declaration. Ultimately, it would be a grouping of Malaysians who seek change or reforms.

Malaysians can longer trust Politicians in UMNO-BN and Pakatan Rakyat


The Show must go on, Pet


Malaysia needs change. Initially we thought that Pakatan Rakyat would be that agent for change. But after more than two years we are not seeing Pakatan Rakyat walk the talk. And because of events like the Selangor PAS internal skirmish between the liberals and the conservatives, the Selangor DAP mud slinging, the Perak DAP public quarrel, and now the PKR party election fiasco, it appears like the three Pakatan Rakyat parties are no different from the parties in the Barisan Nasional coalition.

Can we trust Pakatan Rakyat to be that agent for change? All I can see is the same garbage that we see in Barisan Nasional. The only thing is that in Barisan Nasional  it is bigger. But garbage is still  garbage, whatever the size.

The People’s Declaration

I am proposing a meeting of the members of the civil society movements to discuss where we go from here. The focus must be about how to seek change as laid out in The Peoples’ Declaration. Can the current political structure serve our purpose of seeking this change? Can Pakatan Rakyat still be that agent for change?

I don’t know the answer to this, at least not yet. I hope that by December the scenario would be clearer and that by then we will know exactly what we must do. Is this aspiration an exercise in futility? Should I instead plan the rest of my life around just lazing in the sun on a Mediterranean beach with a drink in my hand and a cigar in my mouth?

I do not hide my disappointment and disgust with Malaysian politicians and Malaysian politics. I feel we can no longer trust politicians from both sides of the political divide. It may be time to take back power from the politicians and give it to the people. But how do we do that? I don’t know. And I hope by December it would be clearer.
Life is never simple and straightforward

I have choices as to what to do with the rest of my life, many choices, in fact. I can, if I want, be selfish and make a choice that serves me best. But that choice may not quite be what is best for Malaysia or for the people of Malaysia. So my final choice may have to be laced with some sacrifice and will have to take into consideration what is also good for Malaysia and Malaysians. And what that is I am yet to decide.

I suppose life is such. It is never so simple and straightforward. Anyway, let me stop here for the meantime and get back to my drums and hopefully by Christmas you and I will be clear in our minds as to what we need to do come the new year.

19 thoughts on “RPK on Turning 60: What’s Next

  1. Hi Pete,
    You are the hope and ray of sunshine from the evil that has begotten the right thinking Malaysians. You cannot and should not abandon the helpless . Demand what you want from the masses and the PR leaders and demand you must make to keep moving. To abandon midstream is not that of a leader. Please rally for a cohesive action orientated forward movement with a strategy fro the NGOs. We wait for your direction globally.

    May the angels guide you in your deliberation.

  2. A belated birthday wish to you, Pete, and warmest regards to Marina and the family. Am glad you’re surrounded by family there and you have a new Roland electronic drum set to let you bang away the blues…

    Thank you too for the effort you have put in to make this country a better place, much appreciated. Will definitely tell the kids about you and your lonely and painful fight to make this country a better place for them and their kids.

    Just a line from Don MacLean’s song Vincent, “For I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you….”


  3. Pet,

    Well, 60 is too young an age to retire or quit. There is still be enough energy left to invest in worthy causes beyond one’s self interest. When one turns 85 like someone I used to admire, it is time to take stock of one’s contributions, achievements and failings. At that age, one is expected to be more philosophical and stop being a political bigot and a racist.

    I pray that I will not be a bitter old man (should I reach 85) because bitterness is not good for my soul. I know I cannot be a Bertrand Russell or Sir Isaiah Berlin. But then I do not need to since I am what I am and know how I started way back in Alor Setar in 1950s.

    At 60 you are still young and have plenty to give. Just soldier on and try to be the patriarch of change. All you need to do is to tap young and idealistic Malaysians and let them create much needed momentum for peaceful democratic change.

    We do not have to trust politicians on both sides of the divide, but we can and must be the countervailing force which they only ignore at the cost of their political careers. We need to ensure that the Malaysians with the power of the vote serve as an integral part of the system of checks and balances. We must make the leaders we choose to represent us and lead our nation accountable for their actions. Yes, people power must be restored and civil society can be the power to keep our politicians honest and accountable. That is why I find the People’s Declaration worthy of our support. –Din Merican

  4. From a country where the government tells you what to believe in and how to behave, a police state where the rule is not of law to a country where you can stand at the Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park and scream yourself hoarse, hurling obscenities at your own government, and then make your way to your favorite watering hole the Red Lion, fate is far from being cruel to someone like RPK who to begin with is half white and half brown, half a commoner and half royalty – half sane, half insane.

    RPK wants change but felt that he has been handed only loose change. So now he says “Give me freedom and you can keep the change”.

    Wake up RPK – and smell the coffee.

  5. Thanks for all your work, RPK.

    Please remember and continue to be inspired by what
    Nelson Mandela did for South Africa. And for South Africans of all
    colours and creeds.

    When the history of a more democratic, egalitarian and decent Malaysia is rewritten, RPK’s contribution to its emergence will be prominently noted.

  6. OOh dah tua dah dia ni.
    Bila nak berubah jadi baik.
    Umur macam tu patut dah matang.
    Muda lagi bapak saya. Tapi dah ada cucu 2 orang..

  7. Suka Sibuk,

    Read Albert Camus’ The Rebel, Jon Lee Anderson’s Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life and Mandela’s The Long Walk to Freedom to understand what the struggle for change means. Komen buta tuli tak guna.

  8. Dear Khun Topeng

    I bet that people like “Suka Sibuk” (i.e. paid UMNO cybertroopers) can only appreciate books like The Malay Dilemma in the Malay language.

    I doubt that they can even read and understand English properly. Or even consider it necessary to be fluent in English.
    I bet that they will be surprised if you tell them that their ultranationalist Malay hero Dr M uses English primarily in his conversation with his children and that the UMNO ruling elite send their kids to boarding schools in the UK.

  9. Yup Bean. Conditional altruism, if there were such a term. We shouldn’t read too much into RPK’s terminology. “Civil society” is a term replete with idealistic dogma which does not really edify anyone. ‘The Peoples Declaration’ should be the goal, but the journey will be long, hazardous and toilsome – and maybe impossible to implement – sort of like searching for the ‘Lost Ark of the Covenent’. We should discard the term (are we not civil?) and just use the acronym: SNAFU.

  10. I dont think RPK has a choice really ( or us for that matter) but to keep fighting ( living) and doing whats best for ourselves and the good of the country as a whole because that affects us all.

    In between fighting tirelessly, everybody needs to recharge and centre ourselves, but to withdraw from life is akin to dying. I dont think life will allow that anyway. It will “force” us to live.

  11. Now in UK….tremendous “life endangering pressure” has been reduced but not necessarily removed and it is correct that RPK should spend time reflecting on what to do on the 2nd.cycle (the next 60 yrs….for the Chinese; every 60 yrs is a complete astrological life’s cycle)….whatever he decide…To Let Go or Continue…he has contribute more than most to the Cause of a Better Malaysia and will always be appreciated.

    On the Third Force….perhaps this could be to garner the tremendous resources of the Overseas Malaysians with Center of Operations in UK with RPK as the Leader of “Young Idealistic Malaysians ” based in UK organizing with Malaysians World-wide…What a Third Force that would be !!!

    All the Best Always Rpk !!!

    Hidup Malaysia !!!

  12. If RPK stands for election for an MP in absentia in constituencies that has a high level of political awareness and high internet penetration like Subang Jaya, Puchong, etc, mesti menang besar! Macamana Pete, ada brani?

  13. Yes, Kathy

    According to Antonio Gramsci:

    “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will”

    And the American saying:

    “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance”

    Wendell Phillips (1811–84)
    QUOTATION: Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty—power is ever stealing from the many to the few…. The hand entrusted with power becomes … the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continual oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot

  14. perhaps rpk, form a third force of malaysian minded malaysians overseas and in the country. be the leader, together with dr m, zaid, ku li and perhaps din and bakri musa. God bless.

  15. Dear RPK

    Please keep up the fight, the cause and your ideal for how and what malaysia should be, holding her head , high and in esteem. It is just you. One day hit PAS till kingdom come, next day praise them that God is on their side. Guess you know better and convey the message for the people betterment. The People Declaration says it all. All PR leaders shouuld constantly regard it as their idelogy/bible and act and think in its line. You will see your ideals implemented , God willing , in your lifetime. Happy 60 th Birthday. Cheers. Don`t be so moody. Life goes on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.