Monday, July 14, 2008

The cult called PKR

When the ‘Dirty Dozen’ left PKR to rejoin Umno just before the 2004 general election, everyone knew that Ezam and Najib were behind this move. Of course no one said anything about Ezam’s role.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

It is not surprising that one-time PKR youth leader Ezam Mohd Noor rejoined Umno. What is surprising is that he waited until after the 8 March 2008 general election to do so. Long before 8 March, Ezam had already been flirting with Umno. In fact, it was an open secret that Tun Daim Zainuddin was financing his NGO, Gerak. And Daim is behind Najib Tun Razak -- so it was the Deputy Prime Minister and not Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who was instrumental in Ezam rejoining Umno.

Actually, most people already knew that Ezam was about to take that final plunge. Photographs of him with Muhammad son of Muhammad and Aziz Shamsuddin, etc., had been floating around the Internet for a couple of years -- even during the time when Anwar Ibrahim was still in jail. The problem at that time, though, was that Ezam was PKR’s blue-eyed boy, the darling of the party, and any negative comments about Ezam, or Azmin Ali for that matter, was considered a treacherous act. You are a traitor to the cause, a traitor to PKR, a traitor to the opposition, a traitor to the Malay race, and a traitor to the entire nation -- all in one -- if you badmouth one of the PKR darlings.

That is the trouble with PKR. They dabble in cult personalities. When you are the current hot favourite, the flavour of the day, even your fart smells sweet. But once you fall out of favour then they even curse your poor innocent mother who has nothing to do with your political business and does not even know what is going on.

The PKR crowd is one emotional group of people. I suspect that if Anwar was to order them to commit mass suicide they might just do so. And that is dangerous, as time and time again history has proven. If Anwar could get a religious scholar somewhere in the world to come out with a fatwah (religious decree) that if you die for PKR you will go straight to heaven where 70 virgins are waiting for you, I bet we will not be short of candidates who will volunteer to undertake suicide missions.

Whether it is Anwar, Dr Wan Azizah, Nurul Izzah, Azmin, or Ezam, they all have their cult followers. The PKR people revere their idols and appear to lose their senses when in the presence of these demigods. So how to tell these PKR herds that Ezam is not what he appears to be and that he is a plant, a Trojan Horse, a termite meant to weaken the ranks of PKR? Try doing that and you will get a beer bottle broken on your head. So it was best to just keep quiet and watch. Time would reveal the truth. And, true enough, the truth has now been revealed.

I remember when I was once the sub-editor of the party newspaper, Suara Keadilan, and I published a letter from a reader that criticised PKR’s Youth Movement. The letter was about the high-handed manner the Youth Movement ‘security squad’ handled the crowd. Even Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, when he was still Prime Minister, was not that well-guarded and his security team did not push and shove the crowd the way the PKR Youth boys did.

It was not my comment. It was a letter from a reader and I allowed it to get published. Wow, you should have seen the SMSess I received. The PKR Youth boys cursed me and one of Ezam’s ‘groupies’, Jo, even challenged me to a boxing match. I was having dinner with Johari Abdul and Dato’ Kamarul at that time and I showed them the SMS.

The next day I turned up at the party headquarters in Shah Alam where PKR Youth was having its monthly meeting. I waited at the bottom of the stairs for Jo to see if he really wanted to Kungfu me. Okay, he may be half my age, but I could still deliver a punch that can floor someone 30 years younger than me. Jo walked up to me and I was ready with clenched fists. Only one of us was going to walk away from this fisticuff and I had planned that that would be me. Instead, Jo reached out to shake my hand and he apologised, so I allowed the matter to end there.

Yes, you can criticise Islam. They will allow you to get away with that. But try criticising Ezam or PKR’s Youth Movement and all hell will break loose. Look at what happened to Lokman Adam. He too revealed a lot of dirt on Ezam and they threw him out of the party. Lokman is a good man. He is fearless and would sacrifice his freedom for the party, which he did when he was detained under the Internal Security Act for 26 months in April 2001. But make one negative comment about Ezam or the Youth Movement and you are history.

While on the subject of Lokman, one day, while covering a demonstration in front of the Dang Wangi Police Station along what used to be called Campbell Road, Bakri Zinin, the then OCPD who is now the CID Director, arrested me. I was taking photos at that time when Bakri grabbed me by the neck and asked me where I was from. I replied that I was from Seruan Keadilan and he ordered one of his men to immediately arrest me.

As I was being dragged into the police station I shouted out to Lokman that I was being arrested. Lokman pushed the police officer and he fell to the ground. I almost fell as well but Lokman grabbed me to prevent me from hitting the tarmac. I was too shocked to react. I mean; there was this police officer sprawled on the road trying to get up as quickly as he could and I did not know what I should do. Lokman shouted at me to run and I did, with the hapless police officer hot on my heels.

I escaped and five minutes later sneaked back into the crowd and took all the photos I needed while making sure that Bakri did not spot me. Lokman stood in front of the police station gate and refused to move even when they threatened to arrest him. He wanted to make sure that no one got arrested that day and he was going to stand guard in front of the police station. Yes, there used to be three of them -- Lokman, Tian Chua and Gobalakrishnan -- one Malay, one Chinese and one Indian loose cannon. Today there are only two left.

But Lokman was thrown out of the party not because he did not do his job but because he criticised Ezam and the Youth Movement. Ezam and the Youth Movement can do no wrong. Even their fart smells sweet. And if you criticise them you are dead meat. So no one says anything even though everyone knows the inner dark secrets of Ezam and his Youth Movement.

When the ‘Dirty Dozen’ left PKR to rejoin Umno just before the 2004 general election, everyone knew that Ezam and Najib were behind this move. Of course no one said anything about Ezam’s role. They cursed the Dirty Dozen and called them traitors who sold out for money. But no one dared say that Ezam was behind the Dirty Dozen rejoining Umno. To do so would incur the wrath of the entire party. So everyone kept quiet and did not mention Ezam’s name. They focused on cursing the Dirty Dozen and kept Ezam’s name out of it while in their hearts they knew that this was merely Ezam’s first move in his eventual re-entry into Umno.

Yes, cults are dangerous. If there is one thing that will be the death of PKR it will be the cult culture. People refuse to see things for what they are. Common sense no longer prevails when you look at things from the angle of cults. And Ezam was one such cult figure. And Ezam could do no wrong. Even when Lokman revealed the truth and exposed Ezam for what he is, it was Lokman and not Ezam who was punished.

Today, Lokman can look the entire PKR in the face and proudly proclaim, “I told you so!” But what good will that bring? The damage has been done. The fake Ezam has revealed his true colours while Lokman has much earlier been kicked out of the party for ‘bad-mouthing’ Ezam. Are we going to see more of this as time goes by? Will we finally see the fakes being exposed while those who had exposed them long ago were sent out to pasture?

PKR owes Lokman a huge apology. Lokman had warned the party what Ezam really is but it was Lokman instead of Ezam who was thrown out of the party. And PKR Youth has not changed. It is still high-handed as the recent ‘pesta’ at the Kelana Jaya stadium proved. But try criticising PKR Youth and see what will happen. They will send you a SMS and challenge you to a boxing match. PKR Youth is a sacred cow, which must not be criticised. And, in time, another PKR Youth leader will resign and will rejoin Umno on the excuse that Anwar is gay and has committed sodomy. And then this ‘sacred cow’ will be called all sorts of names although before this you criticised him at your own peril.

When will PKR ever learn? Ten years on and it is still so immature and can’t seem to understand that you just can’t build a party based on personality cults. And PKR will get burned many more times before it wises up. If the survival of PKR is centred on personalities, then it will not go far. Personalities come and go. And if the party’s future is tied to these personalities then the party will disappear when these personalities do.