Having met RPK fleetingly on a few occasions, I cannot claim to know him personally. I probably know his wife better if only for the couple of conversations I shared with her about her role as spouse and soul mate of the man that is RPK.
RPK's latest shenanigan has invoked much anger among those who hope for positive political and social change in Malaysia. I think this is mainly out of fear and uncertainty that somehow his latest tirade will upset the apple cart and consequence in BN renewing its mandate. For all we know, this might well happen.
However, I would rather think that RPK has up the ante for Anwar and PKR for all their transgressions and omissions since March 2008. Anwar has not shown himself to be a visionary leader that we yearn for but continues to play on opposition sentiments for ABU-BN. PKR in turn remains haunted by controversy and that hard-to-shake, "party of BN also-rans" label. But notice that RPK is just training his guns on only Anwar, PKR and Selangor with nothing on PAS, DAP nor Kelantan, Kedah and Penang.
What RPK said in the last few days is nothing new and I dare say they are even things that are at the tongue tips of many of Anwar’s PR colleagues. My observation is premised on the fact that no one from PAS or DAP has weighed in with violent defence of Anwar against RPK’s allegations. The silence reverberates.
How has RPK raised the ante for Anwar and PKR? Well, for starters Anwar (and I mean also PKR) can no longer be passive and merely depend on sentiments to drive their political ambitions forward. I heard Anwar's speech at the Kelana Jaya Stadium rally the few days before what was to be All Frogs Day on 16th September 2008 and went away wanting. Anwar remains the same Anwar today.
It is ok to continue hammering on BN faults but the chameleon that is Anwar has never cast in stone exactly what he will do to make Malaysian society truly plural, inclusive and progressive. In most of his speeches he has not even emphasized the ideals and commitments of the PR Buku Jingga which at the end of the day is all too easy to subvert. Have all PR component parties reaffirmed their commitment to Zaid's (well, there are those who say it is his) Common Policy Platform? All it needs is for a split in PR for things to revert to BN style race politics. Go ask the likes of Hasan Ali and Nasharuddin Mat Isa. There are no concrete plans but mere rhetoric. Google and prove me wrong.
Second is that he has openly brought Anwar’s image down a few pegs and made Malaysians confront the real possibility of Malaysian opposition politics without Anwar. Suddenly, other options become realistic if not more palatable. Is Anwar really the only "semen-ting" factor (pun intended) uniting PR component parties?
Thirdly, RPK has taken the “Anything” in Anything But UMNO-BN (ABU-BN) and made us think deeper; are we to accept just anything? Anwar whether he likes it or not will need to show us that anything really means something. The 100-Day Buku Jingga reform timeline or nothing! Can the nation survive another five years of pedantic reform initiatives? PR must tell us what will be done exactly before we cast our votes to give PR two-thirds majority.
Just remember that PR parties resoundingly adopted the civil society crafted document, The People’s Declaration (The People’s Mission and The People’s Plan) as its joint manifesto for GE12. What has happened till now? Much of it has become the Buku Jingga; it appears branding is just as important in politics as in marketing. The credits are now different.
Ask who actually drafted the People’s Declaration. It was probably not just one person and you can bet your last dollar that RPK and Haris Ibrahim were not too far away!
With all the recent controversy that surrounds accusations of RPK doing a Benedict Arnold I would like to recall the writings of RPK that had nothing to do with politics but on a value system he personally and strongly professes. You can check out the archives of MT for them. Whatever you may think of him, I am still convinced RPK remains a decent human being.