Excerpt from:

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 am concerned.

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


Raja Petra Kamarudin

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 family portrait.

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, Marina.

9) Four years later we were married. The akad nikah ceremony.

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.



Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Posted by: Raja Petra


Raja Petra Kamarudin

.....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' any more.

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 been stolen.

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 Murugasu's side.

“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 property.”

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 constitution......