Opinion

RPK and the generals who betrayed him

Suflan Shamsuddin

Suflan Shamsuddin is a lawyer based in Kuala Lumpur and the author of the book: "“RESET: Rethinking the Malaysian Political Paradigm”

APRIL 20 — Everyone assumes that Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) and his wife, Marina, stay at Datuk Kalimullah Hassan’s apartment in London. That is not correct. I know this for a fact, because up to the end of last year, when they came down to London, they would stay with us.

It was a treat every time they came to visit. Marina is a great cook so she always prepared us sumptuous meals. RPK loves to play the drums, and I had a full studio of equipment, so we would jam for hours till the neighbours complained!  

They came often enough for us to have designated a workspace for RPK in our home. He would sit there at his computer for hours on end writing up his next article or updating the Malaysia Today website. 

You could not help but feel inspired by his hard work and dedication. And the same is true of Marina, who has stood steadfastly by his side throughout their trials and tribulations.

Many times, we would just chat for hours on end. My wife and I felt privileged to have had such an intimate insight into their lives and their struggle. And they were always great fun!

RPK has been resolute on one point. Positive change can only come if the opposition comes to power. From my conversations with him, I doubt that it is because he believes that Pakatan Rakyat has sufficient ideological alignment or that its leaders have the “right stuff”. Nor is it that he thinks that Barisan Nasional is the mother of all evils. 

He knows that much is wrong on both sides. But he is convinced that bringing the opposition to power is the necessary first step to building a sustainable two-party system for the future.    

His desire for change is so strong that, at times (albeit infrequently!), he has been willing to play “Rambo” at the behest of political leaders who want to bring the current leadership down. And this has perhaps been his Achilles’ heel.

What do I mean? Well in short, he’s been willing to be the fall guy and expose a controversial story in his blog in support of the ambitions of these “generals” to wrest power and, if necessary, to suffer the consequences alone, much to the consternation of his family.

Who are these “generals”  that I am referring to? Certain senior Malaysian political personalities who have a desire to unseat those in power. Need I say more?

Let me make it clear, though; such stories that he exposes are never untruths in themselves. But they are constructed in a way so as to create the most discomfort for those in power, which invariably puts RPK personally at risk whilst protecting the generals who might have ordered the hit.

The whole sordid tale around the Altantuya statutory declaration arose because of his support for these generals, who, in the end, when it mattered, deserted him. 

I still remember vividly that cold winter night at the end of 2009 when the four of us (my wife and I, and RPK and Marina) strolled from our apartment to the centre of town and he recounted to us what had happened. I can tell you without any hesitation that his TV3 interview and his recent articles on this subject accurately depict what he told us then. His story has never changed.

What the public have finally caught on to is that RPK never made any allegations directly against the prime minister or any members of his family. What the public now is aware of is the chain of command involved.

To recount, what really happened was that he was strongly encouraged by an intermediary of one of these generals to do an SD with respect to information that he was provided. He accepted the information as being reliable not least because he received the nod from a number of his generals (via other intermediaries) that both the story and the central character in it were believed to be credible. 

These generals encouraged him, tacitly or otherwise, to proceed. Well, at least they didn’t tell him NOT to proceed, which they should have, if they really cared for the man! He also received assurance that if things went wrong, he would be protected. 

This whole manoeuvre was part of a strategy to prevent Datuk Seri Najib Razak from succeeding Pak Lah and to facilitate one of these generals coming into power instead. Despite his wife’s discomfort, and his own doubts as to information, RPK proceeded with the plan. 

I have no doubt that his own anger for the senseless killing of this girl, and his desire to see justice prevail, played a critical part in the unfolding of his participation in this whole affair. But so did his belief in his generals and their intermediaries that the information was indeed reliable, and that their cause was just. 

In the end, he took the fall; and the protection he thought was forthcoming never came. He should have seen it coming. That the generals and their intermediaries would quickly distance themselves from the situation the moment there was any smell of trouble.

RPK has proven time and time again, by putting everything on the line for what he believes, without any desire for power or financial reward, that his cause is an honourable one. But those generals he believed in have failed him, at least in so far as this matter is concerned.

Perhaps, ever so once in a while, when there is a blue moon, he lets himself down by a lapse of concentration and because his desire for change is so strong, that he ends up being persuaded to do some general’s dirty work. Not out of blind loyalty or because of a financial gain, but because of a desperate desire to secure the victory he so yearns.

We all are human. RPK is no different. But this episode does not make him any less of a man of unflinching principles and convictions. I am confident that his moral compass has remained unchanged.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

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