To those of us who frequent his blog @ Malaysia Today, his straight from the heart writings are absolutely entertaining and an eye opener!
RPK as he is known is a well known blogger who runs Malaysia Today, an alternative news weblog that is growing from strength to strength by the day.
It is also one of the prominent blogs here in Malaysia that dares to kick ass especially of those in power here in Malaysia and this RPK is infamous for speaking his mind as he sees fit!
He’s no ulamak and he admits that very straight up in his writings but he can be so weird in putting forth his many arguments as he likes without giving a hoot to anyone who wants to rebuke him for his manner in at times dissecting time honoured traditions and practices of Islam!
Many have lambasted RPK or Pete as some call him for his seemingly anti tradition approach and viewpoints! The man is like your proverbial pit bull terrier! He will rip you to pieces with his stubborn streak , gnash away at your senses with his logic and once he has you between his maws, never let you go till you cry out in defeat! Hahahahaha!
That’s Raja Petra Kamarudin for you, a close relative of the Sultan of Selangor!
He doesn’t pull rank on you or try to come across as a pompous royal ass and he speaks his mind without fear or favor! Used to be the one defending Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim @ Free Anwar Campaign Director and one who has shown that he will give a 100% when he sets his mind to do anything especially when it comes to fighting for the underdog in the Malaysian political jungle!
Been thrown into the slammer in Kamunting several times and known to be a real pain in the ass as far as the BN Government is concerned, RPK is an enigma for those in power, over there in Putrajaya!
He pulled off a series of first times in Malaysian history like the hosting of Tun Dr.Mahathir’s ‘Dialogue’ with Malaysian NGO’s, the Malaysian Opposition, Malaysian Bloggers and the general public with the first one held at the Kelab Century Paradise at Taman Melawati, Hulu Kelang, Selangor where as expected , Tun Dr.Mahathir grabbed the centre stage and lambasted his successor and the anointed one, current Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for cancelling Tun Dr.Mahathir’s numerous pet projects although the latter had made a ‘gentlemen’s agreement ‘ with Tun Dr.M in not disturbing Tun’s legacy, etc before taking over as the nation’s # 1 leader.
Mr.Clean @ AAB, later screwed Tun Dr.M royally by dashing Tun’s uncompleted projects one by one!
RPK pulled off that first session of hosting Tun Dr.M, the very man who sent him to Kamunting’s R & R for being a thorn in Tun’s backside so to speak by championing Anwar’s cause for ‘Reformasi’!
We can only imagine what tempest and storms lash out in RPK’s mind as he arranged and pulled off a major first in getting his imprisoner to speak out as he did in that meeting which I too attended and in fact, I believe it to be my brainchild where I proposed to RPK to give Tun Dr.M a column in Malaysia Today to speak his mind!
RPK countered with an offer to set up a dialogue with the Tun and the rest is history!
Here’s an interesting episode in the life of RPK where he shares with us an experience he had in chewing out an Ustaz when he was arrested and held by the Special Branch of the Royal Malaysian Police Force as one of those deemed to be a danger to the Government of Malaysia!
Enjoy the article which I have reposted here from RPK’s Blog at Malaysia Today. I enjoyed it very much and am pretty sure you will feel the same.
Raja Petra Kamarudin – NO HOLDS BARRED
On 11 April 2001, I was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA), a day after four other Reformasi activists suffered the same fate — Ezam Mohd Nor, Saari Sungib, Tian Chua and Hishamuddin Rais. They actually wanted to detain me that same day as well but I managed to escape. They tried to pursue me but if you know the way my wife drives then you would know it is not that easy to beat her on the Kuala Lumpur roads. She can make it to Penang is just two hours, accumulating a couple of speeding tickets along the way.
The Special Branch officers camped outside my daughter’s condo that night but could not get in because of the strict security. My daughter spotted them lurking at the guardhouse when she went out to buy dinner and she informed my wife about it. My wife would not tell me though lest I have a sleepless night. The next morning, when we emerged from ‘hiding’, they sandwiched our car and detained me. By the end of two weeks they had taken ten of us in.
We were all subjected to the same interrogation technique, which included a three-day session with an ustaz (religious teacher) — except of course Tian Chua and N. Gobalakrishnan. The purpose of the three-day session with the ustaz was so that we could be ‘rehabilitated’ and brought back to the ‘right path’. Even Saari, the JIM leader, who could be considered an Islamist, plus Badrulamin, an ustaz, was put through this rehabilitation session.
When my turn came, I was informed that for the next three days there would be no interrogation or ‘confession’ sessions. I would instead spend the three days with the ustaz who would engage me in discussions on Islam. I would be gauged as to my leaning and orientation and the ustaz would assist me is seeing where I have deviated. The ustaz would then help me get back to the right path.
The Special Branch officers then left me alone with the ustaz and the next three days would be my road to discovery. I would discover where I had strayed and at the end of the three days I would find that most elusive road to salvation. I actually relished the moment with the ustaz. Not only would it give me temporary relief from the intensive interrogation sessions but it would also give me the opportunity I had always longed for — to engage an ustaz in a debate and see whether I could tear him to pieces.
You may have noticed that I have always been critical of ‘organised’ religion. Okay, I am very defiant by nature, which my relatives say is a natural streak in my Bugis bloodline. But it is not defiance for defiance’s sake that makes me that way. It is more because I strongly believe that God’s word has been distorted and exploited for certain political interests. We are taught what we are taught not to make us better Muslims but to make us compliant to the powers that be. In short, we have been indoctrinated and brainwashed with a deviant form of Islam that only serves the purpose of making us docile human beings who would not question what we are not supposed to question or oppose what we are not supposed to oppose. We would accept anything we are told; hook, line and sinker.
Anyway, my session with the ustaz kicked off with him just looking at me without saying a word and I took that as my cue to open up. And open up I did. I started by saying that I am jahil (ignorant) in matters of Islam. I do not speak Arabic and though I can read the Quran it is merely parroting the verses without understanding a word of what I am reciting. In fact, this is what probably 99% of Malays do. It is almost like reading a Bible in Latin or the Torah in Greek, and no Malays speak Latin or Greek (and very few speak Arabic).
I went to an ‘English’ school, I told the ustaz, the Malay College Kuala Kangsar — which was as Malay as Lee Kuan Yew in the days before the Bahasa Malaysia ‘revolution’ that brought the standard of English down to it present pathetic level. So, invariably, I am very English in outlook. And the fact that my mother was British and my mother tongue, the language I spoke at home, was English, just compounded the problem. So forgive me, I told the ustaz, if he finds me very jahil in matters of Islam and if my views may not be quite up to scratch. I was after all brought up in the wrong environment, an extremely un-Islamic and un-Malay environment.
My knowledge of Islam is very superficial, very shallow indeed, I assured the ustaz. What I know is very limited, probably not even 1% of what the ustaz knows. But what little I know I will expound. I will take the ustaz through what little I know so that he can see what more I need to learn. He could then guide me accordingly and help correct whatever wrong perceptions or interpretations I may have. I do wish to learn how to be a better Muslim and I really hope the ustaz would help guide me on how to become one.
I am a writer, I told the ustaz — which he probably already knew anyway as I am sure he would heave been given our background before meeting us. My job is to write. So I write. And I write about what the current situation in Malaysia is. As I said, I told the ustaz, I am not that knowledgeable about Islam. I know very little. But even from the little I do know I know that we must practice amar maaruf, nahi munkar (reveal the truth, oppose transgressions).
“Is amar maaruf, nahi munkar sunat (optional) or wajib (mandatory)?” I asked the ustaz. The ustaz hesitated. Before he could open his mouth I said, “Let me answer that, ustaz. Amar maaruf, nahi munkar is wajib is it not?”
The ustaz just nodded silently without uttering a word.
If no one in a certain community practices amar maaruf, nahi munkar then the entire community carries the sin. It is fardu kifayah (collective responsibility). But fardu kifayah transforms to fardu ain (personal responsibility) if no one in that community does it. Is this not so, ustaz?”
The ustaz again nodded silently.
“So I am practicing amar maaruf, nahi munkar by writing about the transgressions and excesses of the government and it leaders. Since this is fardu kifayah, which will transform to fardu ain if no one does it, then is this not my responsibility as a Muslim to do so?”
The ustaz does not offer any resistance. He just nods silently.
“So tell me, ustaz. As an ustaz, as a Muslim, as someone more knowledgeable in matters of Islam, tell me I am wrong. Tell me I am wrong, with God as our witness (and I point up to the ceiling as an indication that God is up there).”
The ustaz did not respond so I took that as an apparent victory and pressed home my point.
“Tell me, ustaz, that amar maaruf, nahi munkar is not wajib. Tell me it is not fardu ain just like praying, fasting, paying zakat (tithe) and going to the Haj. Tell me that we need not do amar maaruf, nahi munkar, then from today we will stop doing all the other fardu ain like praying, fasting, paying zakat and going to the Haj. From today we will stop doing all the other fardu ain and regard it as not wajib if you can declare that amar maaruf, nahi munkar is also not wajib and not one of the fardu as well. Tell me with God as our witness (and I again point to the ceiling).”
The ustaz looked down at the floor and said nothing. I was hot and I had him on the run so I was not going to allow the victory to go to waste.
“Ustaz, tell me, is not riba’ (usury) haram (forbidden)?”
I did not bother to wait for him to respond but just pressed on.
“Riba’ is haram and there are 80 levels of riba’ mentioned by Prophet Muhammad, and the Prophet also said that the sin for the lowest level of riba’ tantamount to the sin of intercourse with one’s own mother. Is it not so, ustaz?”
He continued looking at the floor without responding.
“And is not bribery and corruption also considered riba’, an act of profiteering without any effort, work or sweat? And does not the Quran say that bribery is haram and despised by God?”
Still no response other than a feeble nod from the ustaz.
“And as a Muslim, in the spirit of nahi munkar, are we not supposed to oppose bribery and corruption? Is this not our Islamic obligation? Would we not be bad Muslims if we condone bribery and corruption? Tell me, ustaz, with God as our witness (again I point to the ceiling), tell me that I must not oppose bribery and corruption. Tell me that opposing bribery and corruption is not nahi munkar. Tell me that opposing bribery and corruption is not required of Muslims. Tell me, with God as our witness, that I am wrong.”
The ustaz offered no resistance whatsoever. I now had him completely stumped.
“So I write,” I said. “I write about the wrongdoings and transgressions of the government and its leaders. I write about abuse of power and corruption. I am practicing nahi munkar. I am doing fardu ain. I am doing what God asks us to do. Where have I gone wrong? Where have I deviated from Islam? Where in the Quran does it say I am deviating from true Islamic teachings? Tell me I am wrong and I will stop doing it today. Tell me I am going against the principle of Islamic teachings. Tell me that abuse of power and corruption is permitted in Islam. Quote me the verse from the Quran which says so and I will stop writing about it. I will admit I am wrong and I will no longer expose abuse of power and corruption.”
I could see from the ustaz’s body language that he wished he was no longer in the room with me.
“I am jahil, ustaz. I don’t speak Arabic. I went to an English school. My knowledge on Islam is very shallow. I am not as learned in matters of Islam like you. So I admit that I may be wrong. So if I am wrong please tell me. But from the very little that I do know, from whatever little knowledge that I have, I do know that we must not remain silent when we see transgressions and injustice being perpetuated.”
“Tell me, ustaz; did not God make it mandatory for us to oppose kemunkaran (transgressions)? Did not God say that if we cannot oppose it with our hands then we must oppose it with our mouth? And if we dare not even oppose it with our mouth then we must hate it in our heart? However, God also said; those who only dare hate it in their heart and not oppose it with their mouth or hands are Muslims with a very weak iman (faith). Is this not what God said, ustaz? This is not what I say. This is what God said. Is this not so, ustaz?”
The ustaz nodded.
“So where am I wrong in opposing kemunkaran? Tell me, ustaz, with God as our witness (again I point to the ceiling), tell me that we must not oppose kemunkaran. Tell me that God did not ask us to oppose kemunkaran and that I am wrong in doing so. Tell me, with God as our witness, that I am wrong and I will admit that I am wrong and you can send me to Kamunting for opposing kemunkaran. If I am wrong then I accept my fate. I will volunteer to go to Kamunting because I opposed kemunkaran and God did not ask us to do this.”
And this ‘rehabilitation’ went on for the rest of the day, me arguing my case and calling upon God to be our witness, and the ustaz nodding silently without opening his mouth the whole day long. The following day, my Special Branch interrogators returned to announce that the ustaz would not be meeting me anymore. The others all had their full three days but somehow mine was shortened to only a day without any reason offered. Could it be that they felt I knew enough and did not require rehabilitation or were they worried that instead of turning me over I was turning the ustaz over? I will never know the answer to that one. If anything good came out of my ISA detention I would at least say that I was very happy to be allowed an opportunity to engage an ustaz who had been sent to rehabilitate me and instead sent him packing with his tail between his legs.