Haris Ibrahim breaks with RPK over people power
Political and social activist Haris Ibrahim has announced a break with Raja Petra Kamarudin over RPK’s decision not to field independent non-partisan candidates in the next general election, and RPK’s repudiation of “people power” pressure for change in the political system and key institutions.
Haris’s decision will further exacerbate the uneasiness among political activists and reform-minded citizens after Raja Petra’s widely-publicised interview with the New Sunday Times in which he rejected Anwar Ibrahim as a political force or as an instrument of political change.
RPK’s interview was the second in Umno-owned media in 2010. There was an uproar earlier in the year after an interview with TV3, part of the Media Prime group with owns the NST. In it, RPK appeared to have back-tracked on a possible link between Rosmah Mansor, wife of the prime minister, and the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu. » TV3 chopped interview with me: RPK | MCLM backs RPK, says TV3 interview was ‘spin doctored’
Haris took issue with RPK’s announcement on not fielding independent election candidates because there had not been any prior consultation.
He said he had accepted the position of MCLM president in October 2010 on the understanding that policy decisions would be made after mutual consultation and consensus. Haris was elected in absentia to the position when RPK announced the formation of the movement in London with himself as chairman.
“I can confirm now that no such decision (on not fielding election candidates) has been made after due consultation,” he said.
Haris also took issue with RPK’s reported remarks in which RPK repudiated the need for “people power” revolutionary movements to bring pressure on the federal government for reforms of key institutions such as the election process, the judiciary and the police, and to effect people-friendly policies.
Raja Petra was reported to have said that “Egypt-style people’s revolution was not an answer … due to the delicate racial balance” and that “they (Chinese voters) don’t want Tahrir Square type of change”.
Haris said RPK’s remarks undermined his efforts at awakening the people’s consciousness of the need for reforms, and thus made it impossible for him to continue as MCLM president. ‘Rights group not a third force’ – RPK
He said that MCLM had warned prime minister Najib Tun Razak in December last year that there might be street rallies “that might culminate in his government being toppled” if Najib did not carry out electoral reforms demanded by the Bersih movement before calling for elections.
“I wish to reiterate here that this was no idle threat,” he said, clearly rejecting RPK’s stand against people-power activities.
The Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement was set up in October 2010 by Raja Petra and supporters in London and Malaysia to find, vet and offer to political parties a number of independent, reformist-minded candidates to stand for election under the banner of the party.
The need for clean candidates of integrity and principle had been highlighted by key defections from Pakatan Rakyat component parties which led to the downfall of the Perak state government and the suspicion that many had been “bought over” by Barisan Nasional parties out of financial need.
The defections in Perak, in dramatic and controversial circumstances, led to the Sultan of Perak announcing the sacking of the sitting Menteri Besar and his government on the basis that the defections had caused the menteri besar a supposed loss of confidence of the State Assembly (which was not sitting at the time).
In turn, the decision by Sultan Azlan Shah (who was Lord President of the Federal Court before ascending to the throne) led to highly-disputed court decisions that affirmed a power (seen by many to be extra-constitutional) of Sultans in effect to sack the Menteri Besar on the basis of defections. (By extension that would also empower the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to similarly sack a sitting Prime Minister and the government of the day.)
Haris has been behind such initiatives as the People’s Parliament, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia and ABU (Anyone But Umno), which all have the common aim of empowering citizens to move together to bring about political change and reforms in the Malaysian political system and key institutions.
He said it saddened him that RPK “should continue to see us as Malays, Chinese, Indians, dll” even though initiatives like SABM and others “continue daily to undo the ill-effects of UMNO/BN’s 40 over years of race-based, divide-and-rule”
“I remain committed to all efforts to see this a nation of a single people, all equal. And I am fully committed to the cause of ABU. In the circumstances, I find it impossible to continue to serve MCLM as its president,” Haris said.