Malaysia Today - Monday Morning Blues
Monday, January 24, 2005:
I am a Malaysian and you better believe it
Raja Petra Kamarudin
.....I was brought up the English way and did not really
understand or practice Malay customs until I was in secondary school.
In fact, I did not properly speak Malay either until then and I spent
quite a few miserable years in the Malay College Kuala Kangsar being
teased about it. ‘Mat Salleh Sesat’ was the irritating nickname they
gave me back then.
Well, you can’t blame me really, for I spent my
primary school years in the Alice Smith School, a school for children
of Mat Salleh expatriates. There were only two Asians, if I could be
considered that, I and Sarah Chin, a sweet Chinese girl who was my
first girlfriend at the age of ten (well, some of us do start young).
In the Alice Smith School I went by the name of Peter
Kamarudin, the name I am known by in my family till today, and not
Raja Petra Kamarudin. (Petra and Peter means the same thing though;
rock -- one is Latin and the other Greek). Every morning was spent
saying grace and our year-end concerts were about Jesus, the Three
Wise Men, and so on, basically stories from the scriptures.
My first exposure to Malay and Islamic culture was
in the Malay College. I was then 13 and it was certainly a culture
shock for me and something I found great difficulty adjusting to.
The constant teasing did not help much and I longed for familiar
surroundings again. Ever wonder why I left a mere three years later
for the Victoria Institution (V.I.) where I could be amongst
Chinese, Indian and Sikh kids? My best friends in the V.I. were Karim
Kadir, Azizul Rahman, Onn Roslan, Rajadurai, Gurmit Singh, Lim Yong
Boon, Tee Yim Seng, and a few other Malay, Chinese and Indian kids.
As a digression, Rajadurai was called 'Tengku' and
I was called ‘Ang Mo Kwee’ (red-haired devil). Yong Boon was ‘Chee
Chai’ (pig boy), Gurmit plain ‘Bai’, and Yim Seng ‘Taiko’ (big boss).
Taiko decided what mischief we got up to for the day such as releasing
the air in the School Captain's motorbike tyres and so on.
Understandably, our gang was the terror of the school
and we had to make daily trips to the headmaster, Murugasu, for our
quota of six cuts. But we were thick friends and somehow we did not
see each other as Malays, Chinese, Indians or Sikhs but as just comrades.
We did everything together; skipped school, learnt how to smoke, went
to see Rose Chan at the BB Park, even got into fisticuffs with the other
gangs (yes, I can still deliver a wallop of a punch till today).
Sigh...now those were the good old days as far as I
Anyway, we eventually left school, got married,
pursued our careers, and just totally lost contact thereafter. I heard
Rajadurai got murdered, stabbed to death. Onn died of lung cancer a
couple of years ago while I don’t know where the rest are.....
From the V.I. Archives of 1967:
(Class photograph of Form 5A3. Raja Petra is at extreme right in the back row)
14/04: Happy anniversary, my dear
NO HOLDS BARRED
Today, 14 April 2007, I will not talk about politics,
race, religion, corruption or abuse of power. Today, 14 April 2007, I
will give the powers-that-be and those who walk through the corridors of
power a rest. Today, 14 April 2007, is Marina’s and my 34th wedding anniversary.
Marina and I met about 40 years ago in late 1967 or
early 1968. I can’t remember the exact date but I do know it was about
a year or two before the 13 May 1969 race riots. Marina, who was then
only 14 and went by the name of Mable, was in Form Two in the Bukit Nanas
Convent. I was in Form Five in the Victoria Institution.
Ours is not a case of love at first sight but love at
first fight. I was rushing to school on my motorbike and took a short cut
through Brickfields. Marina was running across the road to catch her school
bus and I almost knocked her down. I shouted something obscene at her and
she responded in an even more obscene manner.
One day I needed a date for a dance at the Selangor Club
and my brother offered to introduce me to a girl he happened to know who
lived in Jalan Thambi Abdullah in Brickfields. Lo and behold, it was this
girl who I almost killed and who I had exchanged pornographic words with.
Ours was a ‘turmoil’ relationship with me dodging the
Brickfields gangsters every time I needed to visit Marina or pick her up
for a date. Brickfields, which was the territory of the Chinese Gang 36
and Indian Gangs 08 and Pat Long Fu, was ‘at war’ with Bangsar, my home
base, which was controlled by the Malay Gangs 24, Kaw Lok Kaw (969), Sah
Pat Kau (789) and Sam Pat (38). In fact, even the Brickfields Gangs 36 and
08 were at war with each other as were the Malay Bangsar gangs who went
to war with one another on and off -- so you never knew which gang was
‘safe’ to join.
Finally, for purposes of my health and long life, for it
would have been a matter of time before I would be cornered in ‘enemy territory’,
Marina and I got married on 14 April 1973 when she was 18 and I twenty-two.
That made it possible for us to live together under one roof and which got me
off the dangerous streets. We now have five children, two grandchildren with
one more on the way, plus a son-in-law and daughter-in-law.
I will allow the photographs to tell the rest of the story.
Oh, and before I forget, I would also like to take this opportunity to wish
Yang Berhormat Mulia Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh Hamzah many happy returns of the
day. Tengku Razaleigh turned 70 yesterday.
1) Finally, with great reluctance, I came out into the
world at midnight on 27 September 1950 in Surrey, England. That makes me a
Libran, and a midnight tiger according to the Chinese horoscope.
2) That was me trying to walk before I could even crawl. I
eventually figured out that one must learn how to crawl before one can walk.
Even at that age I already believed in complete transparency, which explains
the concept of Malaysia Today.
3) I always wanted to be a sailor. This is my mum and me,
in my first sailor outfit. Unfortunately I was rejected by the navy because
I am sea sick on boats. I did buy a boat later in life though, but it was
parked in front of my garage and never saw the sea.
4) “Anakanda dengan anak Raja Kamarudin dalam rumahnya,
adapun rambut budak ini perang semacam anak orang putih. Anakanda cuba
hendak bawa balik ke Malaya, budak ini hendak kechek hanya sama Raja
Kamarudin,” wrote the then Raja Muda of Selangor to his father, Sultan
Hisamuddin Alam Shah, the Sixth Sultan of Selangor who went on to become
the Second Agong (King) of Malaysia.
5) “Kekanda dengan anak Raja Kamarudin dekat dengan
motorkar kekanda, bernama Raja Petra,” wrote the then Raja Muda of
Selangor (who later became Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah) to his
son, the present Sultan of Selangor. (He meant I and not the car is
named ‘Raja Petra’).
6) I now have a brother, Raja Idris -- our first
7) Mable, now Marina, who I met about 40 years ago when
she was 14 and I 17.
8) The love of my life, my Yamaha 650cc Twin -- the
first four-stroke Yamaha and modelled after the Triumph Bonneville, and
the first unit imported into Malaysia. Oh, and the second love of my life,
9) Four years later we were married. The akad nikah
10) The batal wuduk ceremony.
11) My Welsh mother, Barbara Mabel Parnell @ Bariah,
doing the renjis during the bersanding ceremony.
12) My first motorcycle and what made it possible
for me to ‘meet’ Marina.
13) At 16 my interests were the same as most
teenagers then and now.
14) As husband and wife and just starting out in
our working careers.
A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Posted by: Raja Petra
NO HOLDS BARRED
.....I was always in love with motorcycles but my father
would not buy me one until I had a driving licence. Then he made a deal
with me. If I pass my LCE exams with an 'A' he would buy me one. I was
already on Murugasu's 'least likely to succeed' list so that was a challenge
which I considered impossible to achieve. Anyway, I did get an 'A' and my
father, though very surprised and quite suspicious as to how I did it,
kept his promise and bought me my first motorcycle, a Yamaha 90cc, which
I felt then could go as fast as a jet plane.
I was in form four when I first got into trouble with
Murugasu. Those who went to VI in the 1960s would probably remember the
headmaster we called 'Black Hitler'. It was quite racial really but then
that nickname was given by my 'best friend' Rajadurai. So I suppose there
was nothing wrong in calling him that if an Indian boy was the one who gave
him that 'title'.
Just to digress a bit, Rajadurai became my best friend
after I took 'six cuts' on his behalf. Someone had painted graffiti on
the toilet wall and a stool pigeon said that 'Raja did it'. Murugasu thought
I was the 'Raja' the informer meant and I was summoned to the headmaster's
office. I told Murugasu that I did not do it and he demanded to know who
did. It was either rap on Rajadurai or take the cuts myself. I was no stool
pigeon so I took the six cuts. I was then given a tin of white paint and
made to repaint the entire toilet. From thereon, to avoid any further confusion,
we called Rajadurai 'Tengku' and I became 'Pete'. So no one was called 'Raja'
And that was probably my next lesson in life: there is
no justice in this world and never expect a fair trial.
One day, Murugasu caught me 'racing' in school and he
literally ran after me with cane in hand. (He always walked around holding a
cane so that he can swing at us whenever he saw us). Actually, I was not really
racing. It is just that I only knew two speeds, full stop or full speed, and
all I did was ride at my 'normal' speed.
Anyway, I hid in the toilet while Murugasu searched the whole
school compound for me. He also asked the head prefect to lock my bike so that
I could not escape. Unfortunately, Murugasu finally found me and he swung his cane
on my backside with all his might. The impact was so great, like a golfer swinging
his golf club, that the cane broke into two. Not satisfied with being able to
give me only one 'cut' when he had intended to give me 'six of the best', he
then slapped me on my left ear and I heard all sort of zinging sounds in my head.
I wonder if that is why I am slightly deaf in my left ear -- or could it be because
of too much disco music?
I was asked to report to the headmaster's office to collect the
key to my locked bike. I knew that Murugasu had about a dozen or so canes decorating
his room so I decided to give the 'invitation' a miss. I then took a bus home
instead, much to my father's surprise who thought I had lost my bike or it had
I was scared stiff but had no choice but to explain what
had happened. He told me to get in the car and we drove back to school. My
father marched to the headmaster's office with me in tow and gave Murugasu
a piece of his mind. I must say I was surprised as I had expected him to take
“I bought my son that motorcycle so it belongs to me,” my
father said indignantly. “That is my personal property and it is in my name
so you have no right to lock it. Unlock it now or else I am going to sue you
for abuse of power and authority and for illegally detaining someone's private
Yes, I was wrong for exceeding the school speed limit. But
the punishment I received far exceeded the gravity of the crime. Furthermore,
it was unconstitutional for the school to detain my bike. The school rules do
not allow for this. And it was not my bike actually but my father's bike since
he had paid for it and it was in his name.
I was baffled at what I considered an overreaction by my
father. I was, after all, guilty of a crime. It would be many years before
I would understand my father's stand on the issue. Just because someone had
committed a breach of discipline does not give you the right to do what you
like to that person. Punish the criminal by all means but make sure the punishment
is legal and befitting the crime. Two wrongs do not make a right and the ends
can never justify the means. Furthermore, the constitution must be upheld and
just because you are in authority does not give you the right to breach the