July 29, 2006
Rise and Fall
We talked about the systems of government and why some failed and others succeeded.
One possible theory I postulated was that of the Russian example. Both Russia and China were still ruled under the Communist regime for the longest time. What happened after that, that made Russia collapse so suddenly and China maintain its stability until today?
Both countries’ leaders had for all this time bound their citizens with an iron rule in both economic and political spheres. Russia, under its new leader Mikhail Gorbachev, however, decided that it was time to open up its systems. He told his citizens and fellow leaders within the government to be open with him. Be critical and tell him what they think. Opening up the political and economic spheres, he thought, was the only way forward in imitation of the American model.
However, the timing was just not right. It was too quick, too soon. Gorbachev should have waited and bided his time. The government system itself was not ready. He was the solo man riding the tide of dissatisfaction. The system imploded and collapsed before you could say ‘democracy’.
China? Oh, China knew the time was never right. Their choice was to keep close control of the political environment but decided to liberalise the economy – slowly, slowly.
Zoom back to 2006, Badawi’s government. Are they losing control of Malaysia, both politically and economically? If yes, why so? Has the country not been liberalising itself in the economy sufficiently over the past couple of decades? Then why is it that political liberalism (although we proclaim ourselves a democracy – maybe just a pseudo one) has not succeeded sufficiently in this country? Is the timing not right? When will it ever be? And till then, do we observe an elegant silence whilst others continue to feel marginalised?
Are we really so immature and not prepared for the kind of liberal democracy that is practiced in 1st world countries around? And if so, isn’t that what we want at the end of the day?
Is Malaysia trying to look for a solution to its unique problem in its very own “Malaysian” style? If so, what Malaysian style is this? And how “right” can it be if this style totally disregards any form of international standards? (For this is what it tantamounts to when one says that international human rights are insignificant and not applicable in Malaysia.)
What then is our goal? We have to know this, or we confuse ourselves into thinking that Malaysia is capable of achieving its Wawasan 2020 of being a developed nation when it refuses to behave in a way that is befitting of one!! And that’s what we must think about.