It is a measure of the iconic status of Raja Petra Kamarudin, or more popularly known as RPK, that yesterday, news about him in cyber space as well as the mainstream mass media, overwhelmed even news about the Prime Minister and the opposition leader combined.
Love him or hate him, whether you are a Barisan supporter or in the opposition camp, young or old, Malay, Chinese, Indian, liberal democrats centre-left winged or just a plain kite-in-the-wind kinda guy, you just can't escape the shower of political exuberance that RPK brings.
RPK combines the uncombine-able in the Malaysian great fight for change; for political and personal emancipation and for a semblance of societal sanity that have long since evaded this land. He is sometime brilliant; sometime broodingly introversive; sometime maniacal and almost all the time enigmatic.
I never knew the guy. He was my first ever client whom I had never met until I won a case for him! Winning his case was one of the highest, if not the highest, moment of my career. That moment is captured in RPK's Release: A Tapestry of Thoughts and Emotions.
Throughout my short association with him I have seen the man at work. I have had some insights into his mind, his steely determination and an almost child-like stubbornness which is cute and adorable as much as it is agonisingly exasperating and frustrating.
I would not be exaggerating if I said that I have seen this guy actually being prepared to die for what he believes in. There he was, in front of me, and to the absolute astonishment of his wife and other members of his legal team, telling us how he would undertake a private and absolute civil disobedient in detention which would ultimately result in his own death. Disturbing, to say the least. But that's RPK as I know him in the short time I have had the pleasure - and a lot of pressure - to act for him in his ISA habeas corpus application.
However, since yesterday, he is the greatest turncoat Malaysia has ever seen after his heavily edited interview with TV3 was broadcast by the UMNO owned TV station. He is now a vilified person. He has sold out. He did that to ensure his safe - and probably opulent - passage back to Malaysia.
Over yesterday night and yesterday, I received calls, text messages and e mails from friends and acquaintances questioning RPK's motives. Some of my close friends undoubtedly concluded that RPK has now bought his safe passage back to Malaysia. A sneak into the comments made at various web sites reporting on the TV3 interviews show insulting comments questioning RPK's loyalty to the oppositions and making conclusions that he has surely sold out.
Above all, the timing of the interview is perceived to be correlated with the Sarawak state election and being so, it is viewed as a definite effort to derail Anwar Ibrahim's efforts in Sarawak.
Quite when RPK has been loyal to Anwar or the opposition is beyond me. And quite why in the mind of so many people that Anwar is THE opposition and the opposition IS Anwar are also beyond me.
As to why it is such a sin and blasphemous to criticise Anwar while at the same time it is expected and fashionable for everyone to say bad things about the PM or UMNO people is also beyond me. Since when a fight for the betterment of the society is equated to a fight for the opposition is also beyond me.
The interview with TV3 was done a good 2 months ago in Perth. At that time, Sarawak election was way beyond anybody's guess. Of course TV3 chose to air it now. Was that RPK's choosing?
His position could well be understood if we emphatise with his plights. Here is a man asked to put some information into a statutory declaration. A statutory declaration is a statement under oath. It is made under pains of being held accountable for perjury. This guy was asked to put those information in an SD. He refused.
He was then told by some characters that the information was reliable. The informants were also men of truth and coming from members of temples of reliability. That was related to him.
It was also related to him that a document supporting what was being told to him would surface if he came into trouble for signing the SD.
Then he put the information in an SD, signed by him. Signed and sworn under oath by him.
The rest is history. He was arrested; interrogated; bundled up in a small cell with only one light bulb as a company; where he slept on the floor with some "officers" walking around slamming a tin cup on the bar to disturb his sleep; woken up in the middle of the nights for "interviews"; bundled up, blind folded and brought to Kamunting armed with a 2 year detention order signed by the then Home Minister.
WHERE WERE THOSE INFORMANTS; THOSE MEN OF HONOUR AND RESIDENTS OF THE TEMPLE OF RELIABILITY?
WHERE WERE THEY WHEN RPK WAS RECOILING ON THE CEMENT FLOOR IN SOME DUNGEON, THINKING WHETHER HE WOULD EVER EVER SEE HIS WIFE, DAUGHTERS AND GRANDKID AGAIN?
WHERE WAS THE SUPPORTING DOCUMENT WHICH WAS SURELY GOING TO SURFACE TO SUPPORT WHAT WAS BEING SAID BY HIM IN THE SD?
WHERE WERE THE PUBLIC STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT TO VOUCH WHAT WAS BEING BEING SAID BY HIM IN THE SD?
This man, who was prepared to die in detention in front of MY OWN EYES was left high and dry to fend for himself? HOW MANY OF YOU CAME TO THE COURT TO SHOW SUPPORT?
Now he had to leave the country for his own sake, and the sake of his family, his wife, his daughters and grandkid.
Ladies and gentlemen, put yourself into his shoes. Wouldn't you all be freaking pissed off with a capital "P"?
It is easy to have doubts. It is easy to make conclusions. But let me ask all those doubters this.
Do you have all the facts to form conclusions?