|Happier days: Bloggers' 100-day party post-GE 13, 6/7/2008|
I haven't spoken with Syed Akbar Ali in three years, at least, and with Raja Petra Kamaruddin a while longer. About a decade ago, when blogs were fab and the Government hated and even feared bloggers, RPK, Syed and I and others (including our lawyers!) would meet regularly at the National Press Club where I was president, at police stations and legal firms and sometimes in court, the Chinese Assembly Hall, and events featuring ex PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad. I've been to Syed and RPK's homes, that's how close I was to them.
But Syed and RPK, they were closer to each other. On 6 May 2008, their fates would interlock forever when both were charged with sedition by a growingly desperate Administration.
Months before that, during the run-up to the 2008 general election, by which time RPK had "suddenly" left Mahathir's camp to go back to Anwar Ibrahim's, RPK and Syed would be seen attending Opposition rallies and campaigns together.
Syed hadn't started his OutSyed The Box blog but he was a regular contributor to RPK's The Malaysia Today, which had a very big following in those days.
At a clandestine meeting of the biggest and most influential bloggers one evening at the NPC, Syed chaired and RPK presided. These were Umno, PAS, PKR, DAP and independent bloggers who believed they could force a change in the government in the GE if they were more united in their approach, online as well as in real life (the first Bersih, Bloggers United, National Blogs Alliance, etc).
After Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stepped down, the sedition charges against RPK and Syed were DNA-ed (Dismissed Not Amounting to Acquittal) by Attorney-General Gani Patail.
Syed went on to open his hard-hitting blog and became the first president of the Blog House Malaysia and sat on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for two terms, remaining close to Dr Mahathir all the time.
RPK opened a cafe in England and today runs the still-influential Malaysia Today from afar, emerging as one of the more intelligent and effective voices in the on-going, if waning, Mahathir-Najib battle royale.
Raja Petra's How Syed Conned Mahathir and Muhyiddin (The Malaysia Today, Dec 6) is not just a posting on 1MDB and how Dr Mahathir got it so wrong (or so says RPK),. It is also about rifts and break-ups the Mahathir-Najib split has caused between old friends and comrades.
In politics, they say there are no permanent friends or enemies, just permanent interests. But I'm afraid that most bloggers are not in politics, and their friendship, or enmity, could be more permanent, regardless of what their interests may be.
And, so, we await Syed Akbar's response to RPK's serious allegations in that article. It's highly unlikely he will or can take it quietly. For this is not just about him.
"What (Dr Mahathir) knows about 1MDB is what Syed Akbar Ali, a.k.a. OutSyed The Box, told him. And either Syed does not know accounting or corporate finance or he has been taking Dr Mahathir for a ride — a long ride to nowhere." - RPK, 6/12/15