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A disgraced legend

Translated by Soong Phui Jee
Guang Ming Daily

Local political legend Raja Petra Kamaruddin recently made an abrupt clarification that he no longer believed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor were implicated in the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu. His confession triggered heated debates on the eve of Sarawak state election.

A much cherished hero in the blogsphere has all of a sudden been reduced to a trashed coward.

Netizens had been looking up to a heroic figure who was courageous enough to expose all the filth of the ruling coalition hidden from public knowledge. RPK had indeed met all the requirements for such a hero, including a tragic destiny that is more often than not associated with a heroic martyr.

He ran a news website that unveiled many previously unknown political truths. With a vast network of contacts and a wealth of insider information, he exposed many shady stories and released huge numbers of supposedly classified government documents without taking into consideration possible legal consequences that might befall him.

All heroes have a price to pay. RPK was arrested and charged. He insisted not to go on bail and went into a dramatic exile. He continued to voice out through the Internet and even vowed to go on his struggle at the expense of his son when the latter came under arrest.

However, heroes do not always enjoy freedom of expression. A hero is expected to come up with extreme and biased remarks. No one needs the truth anyway; all that they want are emotionally charged one-sided stories and gossips. If a hero utters anything unpleasing to the ears of his audience, he will find himself instantly censured.

All new media practitioners, RPK included, often find themselves stereotyped by the masses. While they fiercely champion freedom of speech, they are invariably denied of the same by public consensus and market. They can only slam but not exalt the ruling coalition, sympathise with but not hammer the opposition. Their support will languish the moment they go against the market demands.

The bullying culture on the Internet has given rise to a trend that subscribes only to a unitary voice. Some bloggers have tried to lure public attention and lift their pageview figures by stoking sensational headlines and stories. They would never tread beyond the baseline to show their support for mainstream political entities for fear of retaliation and abandonment.

That said, RPK is a unique case of its own, as he has long been criticising some of Pakatan's inappropriate policies and internal conflicts, and has hit out straight at its leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

However, Pakatan supporters continued to support him as his objective was explicit and clear, to bring down the BN at any cost in what is known as the ABU (Anything But Umno) spirit.

Out of everyone's expectation, he suddenly changed the course of his struggle shortly before Sarawak went to the polls, launching relentless assaults on Anwar and the Pakatan.

What a regret to see a rare hero lose his integrity and worth.

MySinchew 2011.04.21


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