Nathaniel Tan, pembantu khas Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim sejak dari tahun 2007, mutakhir ini mula mengkritik pedas bosnya itu.
“Dan yang terbaru, dalam suasana politik PKR yang tersembunyi dan
merbahaya setelah sekian lama sekarang telah berubah kepada ketulusan
dan demokrasi yang dibisikkan dari belakang tabir yang tiada orang pun
berhak tahu (apa yang sedang dan akan berlaku)
“Saya rasa agak bodoh untuk kita mengharapkan demokrasi daripada
parti yang mana pemimpin ‘de facto’nya sudah tiada penghormatan kepada
“Walaubagaimanapun, isu ini tidak menjadi fokus yang menarik
perhatian awam, tetapi dalam fikiran saya, implikasi daripada bentuk
politik yang berterusan ini – yang semakin merebak dan tidak terkawal –
merupakan faktor yang penting kepada seluruh krisis yang
berlaku,”katanya dalam tulisan bertajuk “The dearth of transparency and democracy in PKR” disiarkan Malaysiakini, 30 Jan.
Nathaniel atau lebih dikenali sebagai Nat pernah ditahan polis pada
Julai 2007 ketika itu beliau adalah Setiausaha Foundation For The Future
yang dipengerusikan Anwar.
“Dia (Nat) pernah menjadi Setiausaha Eksekutif kepada Pengerusi Foundation for the Future iaitu Anwar Ibrahim.
“Selain membantu Tian Chua, dia menulis dalam Malaysiakini dan
dipercayai masih berperanan dalam sebarang program “educating Malaysia
for democracy” yang dibiayai oleh CIA,” ulas The Unspinners dalam memperkenalkan siapakah aktivis hak asasi bernama Nat.
Nathaniel Tan: The dearth of transparency and democracy in PKR
COMMENT For years I defended Anwar Ibrahim. For years I defended PKR.
I defended and I defended, until the day came where it became
impossible to defend the indefensible.
People always like to speculate whether people change their positions
due to money. In all honesty, I think that’s a healthy speculation.
After yesterday’s article, more than one person asked about the
profits I made working for the Selangor government. I had a good run,
and earned a similar amount as the people I went to school with, for the
three years I was with Selangor.
In the middle of last year, I was informed my services would no longer be required.
They did not explain why at length (except perhaps to hint that I was
costing too much), and I did not really ask or pursue the matter. My
last day of work was around November 2013, and I have not had any
professional engagement with them since.
Given the abrupt dismissal, perhaps people would have been less
surprised if I had turned on Abdul Khalid Ibrahim instead of Anwar
In any case, let’s get to it.
Many people are throwing about words like ‘tactics’, ‘strategy’,
‘Mahathirism’, ‘racial and religious incitement’, ‘strengthening Pakatan
Rakyat’, etc, etc.
I’ll spend a few words on all those later, but for my money, they
have nothing to do with the most important implication of what is going
The murky game of cloaks and daggers
To me, the real problem pivots on how Anwar and his associates are
running PKR in a manner that is completely bereft of transparency,
accountability and democratic principles.
Let’s carry out a simple thought exercise: How did the decision to carry out the Kajang plan come about?
I don’t know, do you?
Many have speculated (myself included), many claim it happened one
way or another, but the truth is: nobody outside the nebulous ‘inner
circle’ has any idea.
PKR has a large supreme council that is mostly democratically
elected, and a smaller political bureau. Can we say with confidence that
members of both were given an opportunity to voice their opinions, much
less be made fully aware of what was going on? Are there official
minutes perhaps, that we might refer to?
Beyond PKR, there are the leaders of PAS and DAP, and there are the
representatives of the Selangor State Assembly – all democratically
elected as representatives by party members, and by the rakyat.
How many of them had a say in the decision that would so heavily
influence who would be the number one person in the Selangor state
government? Were there broad consultations among party leaders, elected
representatives, and (God forbid) the rakyat? Or was it presented to the
world as a fait accompli?
The day Lee Chin Cheh resigned his seat in Kajang, someone
theoretically in the top 10 ranking of PKR leaders messaged me, saying:
“I guess I’m always the last to know. Sigh”
If he/she is the last to know, what more the rest of us?
This is the latest – and by my reckoning the last straw – in a
culture of cloak and dagger politics within PKR that for too long now
has circumvented transparency and democracy in favour of whispered deals
made in backrooms that no one is privy to.
I suppose it was stupid of us to expect democracy from a party whose ‘de facto leader’ has no democratic mandate whatsoever.
These issues have not been the focus of public attention, but in my
mind, the implications of this style of politics continuing to spiral
out of control is the most significant factor in the entire crisis.
‘The bigger picture’
All these years, I felt that despite these problems, it was important
to maintain unity in order to fight the bigger enemy: Umno.
It’s a sad day when you turn around and realise that the people
you’ve been fighting for have come to live and breathe so deeply the
culture you thought you were fighting against.
Over the years, I have spent countless words trying to fight cynicism
against politics, and speaking out against armchair critics who seem
fuelled mostly by self-righteous anger, and who never seem to get their
I did this because, like so many others, I wanted to concentrate on
the big picture. I desperately wanted a Malaysia free of Umno.
On Tuesday, I realised how far some politicians would go in abusing and manipulating this desperation.
For too long now, I think Anwar, PKR and Pakatan have become
convinced that they can get away with murder, because they believe those
of us who hunger for change simply have no other options.
They assume we truly, truly will vote for Pakatan (and Anwar) no
matter what, as long as no alternative (like another party, or say,
I had always thought there was a limit as to how far they would go. It would appear not.
Alarm bells should start ringing when politicians say things that don’t make sense, and expect you to believe it.
At some point in ‘The Life Of Pi’, a pair of Japanese gentleman are
presented with two different stories, and are asked: which story do you
The question was not which do you think is true, the question was: which do you prefer?
Too often we believe what we want to, not what the facts suggest. It
is a struggle to be objective, but it is a struggle well worth
The first story
Let me try to present, as objectively as I possibly can, two stories that might explain what is going on.
The first has been articulated most popularly by Rafizi Ramli – a man
whose sharp intelligence is reflected crystal clear in the politically
savvy tone he used to make his argument.
This story suggests that we are on the edge of a crisis; that forces
linked to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad are looking to
dethrone Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, and instigate an era of
unprecedented racial and religious strife.
This story has it that in order to take Putrajaya, it is imperative that Anwar be a state assemblyman of Selangor.
That is all that Rafizi claims at this point, but I think it is not
too much of a stretch to assume that he means that Anwar must become the
Selangor menteri besar in order to effectively use Selangor as a
“launchpad” to take over Putrajaya.
It is nothing short of comical to think that Anwar has some other role to play as a state assemblyman alone.
This story also has it that “option is key” – that somehow the
ability to chose between Khalid, Anwar and someone else does not
represent potential instability, but is rather some kind of ace up PKR’s
sleeve against the Umno leviathan.
Given the process that needs to be carried out in order to change the
menteri besar, the palace dynamics and the uncertain position that PAS
will take, it seems to me that this move will actually create great
instability all around, where once the only instability existed was
those perpetrated incessantly by party leaders.
There is also a warning about Selangor becoming Kedah, despite the
fact that while Pakatan lost Kedah in the elections, Selangor increased
its seat count by eight times more than any other state government that
gained more seats in GE13.
Other people allude to reasons that they “can’t talk about” things behind the scenes that we “wouldn’t understand”.
If we were really privy to all the discussions and the real reasons, I
personally don’t think we wouldn’t understand; it’s more like we
wouldn’t approve. That’s why we haven’t been made privy to them, and are
served in their place steaming piles of horse manure.
The second story
Now let’s try another story. In this story, Khalid runs the state in a
way that makes the people happy, but makes politicians unhappy.
The last thing I want to do is make things up out of thin air. To
elaborate on the previous statistic – in GE13, Negeri Sembilan increased
its state assembly seats by one; Penang did the same. Selangor
increased its seats by eight.
People love to yell until they’re blue in the face, saying that this
or that is what the public really thinks, but this hard statistic is
nevertheless incontrovertible. It does not prove conclusively that the
public is happy with Khalid, but there are more statistics that provide
statistics that suggest the opposite (which is quite remarkable,
considering Khalid’s complete deprioritisation of public relations
Recently, in a poll by The Star, Khalid was top choice for menteri
besar, obtaining nearly the same amount of votes as the next two
candidates put together (Anwar and Rafizi).
I could be wrong, but was there a Merdeka Center poll some years back
where Khalid was shown to be a more popular leader than Anwar? If so, I
can’t imagine it made Anwar feel too good.
The part where Khalid makes politicians unhappy I think goes without
saying – sometimes for perfectly valid reasons, reasons I myself have
experienced and been frustrated by.
Are they reasons enough to remove him? For my money, not by a long shot.
In any case, Khalid probably thinks it is beneath him to defend his
record (can you imagine anyone else in his position maintaining the
relative silence that he has?), so I won’t presume to do it for him.
In this story, the most important thing about Khalid is that he does
not easily accede to party wishes. If you ask his detractors, this
applies to questions of policy (though I cannot think of many such
policies). If you ask his supporters, this applies to how the party
wants the state to be a bigger “resource” for party activities.
If you ask a cynic, he or she would say, all the PKR people want is
their fingers in the jar that Khalid has kept so tightly closed.
Is it all just about the money? To say so would probably be a
disservice to the varied members of the ‘Anwar for menteri besar’ team.
Or, is it mostly about the money?
I suppose you will have to look as objectively as you can at the
things they are saying. If they make sense to you, then the answer is
‘no’. If they do not make sense to you, then the answer is ‘yes’.
Feudal politics and Umno DNA
People like to say that PKR is like Umno, but they seldom go into specifics. In what way does it or does it not resemble Umno?
I think PKR is most like Umno in that it is an extremely feudal
party. The most efficient and traditional feudal boss is Azmin Ali (a
man who perhaps stands to gain the most from a debacle in Kajang), while
Anwar’s feudal style leans more towards playing people off on one
another, thus making himself as indispensable as possible.
Feudal politics cannot exist unless there exists money, resources and
power to dole out. The Selangor menteri besar can dole out a lot.
Opposition Leader? Not so much.
In the latter story, perhaps this latest ploy is also consciously or
subconsciously motivated by a desire to stay relevant – to inspire
followers who are losing faith, energy or both, and to do so at any
PAS and DAP
It appears PAS is divided. Its newly-minted Youth chief has taken a
hard stance, which I can appreciate, while the rest of the leaders may
once again be bullied (for the “bigger picture”) to go along for the
ride. Why they keep letting PKR do this to them? I do not quite
Meanwhile, motivating some quarters in DAP is the belief that someone
like Anwar can relieve some of the pressure they are feeling due to the
If they think Anwar has the magic bullet that will bring us closer to
actual solutions on this issue, I fear they will be sorely
disappointed. However, this is merely an opinion of mine, for which
insufficient space for elaboration exists.
The grass is always greener on the other side, and I think it will be
too late by the time the delusions clear, and people realise exactly
what they threw away when they replaced Khalid.
Enough politics of fear
We believe what we want to. Sometimes this leads to idolatry. Inside
so many of us lives a burning yearning for change, and a pining for
shining heroes to make that change real.
These are completely understandable yearnings; but if we let them
compromise our objectivity and our judgment, then we shall be forever
I was saddened to see Lim Kit Siang use May 13 as some sort of
bogeyman after so many years of berating MCA for doing exactly the same
If you read Rafizi’s admittedly eloquent, beautifully crafted defence
with greater care, you will see significant strains of the same
politics of fear: we must do this because of the Umno threat; we must do
this because without Anwar, Selangor will crumble like Kedah; we must
do this because only Anwar is a light strong enough to fight the
Scary words, but the facts quite simply do not seem to bear them out.
Every one of us will have to choose in this free marketplace of ideas
which stories make the most sense, and every one of us will have to
live with the consequences of our choices. At the end of the day, as
always, we will get the government we deserve.
It’s been a difficult time, but there is no point in living unless we
truly believe that for every closed door, a window opens. All we have
to do is to find it.
NATHANIEL TAN tweets @NatAsasi, and wishes everyone Gong Xi Fa Cai!
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