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Friday, May 8, 2009

RPK : Was Siva merely collateral damage?

Friday, 08 May 2009 | malaysiatoday

I believe Pakatan Rakyat knew it could not have won a military campaign in Ipoh yesterday. It has problems even winning the legal battles in court. The only way, therefore, is to allow Barisan Nasional to do what it did and which in turn would antagonise the people.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER | Raja Petra Kamarudin

After I wrote my last article in No Holds Barred (It’s all about race, stupid!), I went to sleep -- after staying awake for almost 24 hours. I admit that my No Holds Barred article was very fiery, practically calling for blood. I make no apologies for that but I suppose sleep depravation does that to you; it makes you lash out. Nevertheless, I maintain my stand that what they did to Siva -- dragging him out of the State Assembly like a sack of potatoes and unceremoniously evicting him -- was downright uncivilised and utterly inexcusable.

After five hours of a good sleep, and with a clearer mind because of it, I have had time to reflect on what happened in Ipoh yesterday. As I said, I make no apologies for what I wrote earlier and have not changed my views. But what I have since been able to do is to analyse what the thinking of the Pakatan Rakyat leaders could have been and why they ‘abandoned’ Siva to his fate.

Could not Pakatan Rakyat have demonstrated a show of force and defend Siva to the last man standing? Are the Pakatan Rakyat leaders that gutless that they did not stand up for what is right? After all, they are constantly screaming that Siva’s eviction is unlawful and his physical removal unconstitutional. Why then not defend the law and the constitution by force if necessary?

Well, I am looking at things from the perspective of a political activist. Pakatan Rakyat could probably be looking at things from the political angle. Not being a politician I do not see things the political way but the political activist way. And this is maybe why I do not make a good politician. I just can’t see how sometimes in politics you have to allow the other side to show its true colours. In other words, you give your enemy enough rope for it to hang itself.

I have to go read Sun Tzu again and see what he said about strategy. And strategy involves many things. As Mao said, when the enemy chases, you run. When the enemy rests, you counter-attack. Mao must have read Sun Tzu as well and I am sure that was his ‘bible’ in the battle to win the hearts and minds of the Chinese people.

Something else Sun Tzu said was to not engage an enemy more powerful than you. And if it is unavoidable and you do have to engage, then make sure you engage it on your terms, not on your enemy’s terms. Choose your battlefield. Make sure it is a battlefield that you know. Never fight on a battlefield where your enemy will be stronger and better equipped than you.

The Taliban never read Sun Tzu -- or maybe they did, I don’t know. But they applied this strategy to the maximum and sent the powerful Russian military machine running back to Moscow with its tail between its legs. How to fight the Russian tanks, rockets and helicopter gun-ships when you are only armed with rifles? In an open battlefield the Russians would make mincemeat out of you.

Well, don’t engage the Russians in an open battlefield. The Russians would excel in an open battlefield. They are well equipped to fight in an open battlefield. So avoid the open battlefield and draw the Russians into the mountains. The Russian army is not trained to fight in the mountains plus their tanks would be useless in the mountains and the helicopter gun-ships would find the mountains most precarious.

So that is what the Taliban did. They knew the mountains like the back of their hands. They could move up and down those mountains blindfolded. And when the Russians came into those mountains the Taliban kicked the shit out of them. Eventually, the Russians called it a day and went home, but not after having to send home so many of their soldiers in body-bags.

So, what happened in Ipoh yesterday? There was hardly any resistance. PAS alone could have easily mobilised 50,000 supporters. Sure, there were roadblocks and thousands of police, hundreds in the State Assembly itself. But Pakatan Rakyat could have outdone this easily. Yet it did not. Why?

Anwar was not in Ipoh. Neither was Hadi Awang. Lim Kit Siang was but was not allowed in. And when they refused to allow him in he went off. There was no attempt to force their way into the State Assembly. No storming of the Bastille as had been hoped and as many had wished for. Why?

Was it complacency? Did they think Pakatan Rakyat would win the day without putting up a fight? Are they that naïve? Did they sell us out? Yes, those were the first questions running through my mind and lack of sleep allowed me to think only of the questions but the answers were not forthcoming.

I don’t believe it is any of the above. And I don’t think it is because of lack of caring or lack of interest as well. I think Pakatan Rakyat planned every move to the last detail and knew exactly what it was doing. And I think Barisan Nasional played right into Pakatan Rakyat’s hand.

But then I have a suspicious mind, as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is fond of saying. I am always looking for conspiracy theories. I am always thinking that there is more than meets the eye. I believe that politicians are good magicians. They distract you with their right hand while the trick is being performed with the left hand.

Is that what happened in Ipoh yesterday? Was that why it appeared like Pakatan rakyat offered only token resistance to make it look like they tried? Maybe, maybe not!

Let’s face it. Pakatan Rakyat had already lost the state. It lost the state when the Sultan sacked Nizar and replaced him with Zambry. Pakatan Rakyat now has lesser seats than Barisan Nasional in the State Assembly. What happened in Ipoh yesterday was merely to confirm what was already fact -- that Pakatan Rakyat is no longer the government in Perak.

Pakatan Rakyat could have resorted to force, bloodshed even. But would that have helped them get back the state? What it may have done is to give the police an excuse to detain everyone under the Internal Security Act and declare martial law in Perak like what they did in Kelantan more than 30 years ago -- and which I have written about before. That means democracy would be suspended and they can run Perak without the ‘burden’ of a State Assembly. Umno would be doing things without any opposition since there is no longer any State Assembly and therefore no longer any opposition in the State Assembly.

I believe Pakatan Rakyat knew it could not have won a military campaign in Ipoh yesterday. It has problems even winning the legal battles in court. The only way, therefore, is to allow Barisan Nasional to do what it did and which in turn would antagonise the people.

If blood had been spilled, the people might blame Pakatan Rakyat rather than Barisan Nasional for it. Sure, Barisan Nasional is violent. But then Pakatan Rakyat knows that Barisan Nasional is violent. Why then allow them to use violence whereby the people are exposed to risk and danger? Pakatan Rakyat should look after the people’s interest and guard their safety. Knowing that Barisan Nasional is violent and yet exposing the people to danger is downright irresponsible of Pakatan Rakyat.

This would be the reaction of the people if anything adverse happens to them. So Pakatan Rakyat very cleverly avoided violence and allowed Barisan Nasional to do what it did in Ipoh yesterday. And, today, more people have become disgusted with Barisan Nasional and will vote for Pakatan Rakyat in the next election, or by-election, just to demonstrate this disgust. They may not vote for Pakatan rakyat because they love Pakatan Rakyat. But they will certainly vote for Pakatan Rakyat because they now hate Barisan Nasional even more than before yesterday’s fiasco in Ipoh.

Was, therefore, Siva merely collateral damage? Were they expecting this and did Barisan Nasional do exactly as expected? After all, the state had been lost months ago. Winning the battle of the State Assembly, yesterday, would not have got the state back. Instead, it would have invited other problems, the people’s safety being one of them.

This is of course only my wishful thinking. I could be wrong, I don’t know. I would like to believe that what happened was part of Pakatan Rakyat’s plan and that it worked as planned. I hope and pray that Pakatan Rakyat laid a trap and that Barisan Nasional walked right into it and got snared.

As I said, I am not a politician. So I think differently from the way politicians do. But I do hope that what I am currently thinking is what they had also been thinking all along and that what happened in Ipoh may appear to have been a defeat but was actually a political victory that, in time, will reveal itself.

They say: he who has the last laugh has the best laugh. Was yesterday, in Ipoh, the last laugh? Or is the last laugh yet to be laughed? And who is going to have that last laugh? Politicians are so devious.

And am I being too idealistic here?

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