India, apparently is a country which has made the "mistake of being too democratic". And, "democracy can be a hindrance to progress because you spend so much time politicking that you don’t have time to develop your country. In China, there’s not much politics. So, they can spend more time developing their country.”
Those are statements attributed to Tun Dr Mahathir in a IANS report as quoted by Malaysia Today on 17.11.2009.
I love it when DrM is being philosophical. Because he makes philosophy, especially political philosophy, interesting. Interesting in a comedic way, I mean.
First and foremost, to put China and India in the same political sphere is an act of questionable wisdom.
India is a parliamentary republic deeply entrenched within the Westminster typed democracy as practiced in the United Kingdom. Malaysia, which was governed by DrM practices the Westminster typed democracy as well, save for the fact that we are not a republic.
China, on the other hand is not a democratic country at all. It is a communist country. The people have no freedom of speech or at all. They kill their own people for having the guts to stand up and be counted. The so called leaders do things according to their own whims and fancies. The people just have to accept. There is no election. No voting. No nothing.
(The only good thing about China's administration is the fact that they shoot their civil servants for corruption.)
DrM must have confused China with Malaysia during his days as the Prime Minister. Save for the fact that Malaysia is not a communist country and we do not shoot our civil servants for corruption, of course.
According to DrM, the people "do not understand the limits of democracy”. And that dear Doctor, includes the leaders too, if I may add. Which begs the question, what can the people do when they do not understand, or misunderstand, the limits of democracy? Create chaos? If so, isn't it the duty of a responsible Government to educate and to protect the people and the State in accordance with the law and the power entrusted by the people?
The real danger to the State is not the people not understanding the limits of democracy. The real danger to the State is the leaders not understanding the limits of their powers. The real danger to the State is the leaders not understanding democracy in itself and its inner working. Because there lies the root of abuses. There lies the root of wrongdoings, corruption, nepotism, cronyism and totalitarian absolutism.
While a responsible Government could crush, with all its might and powers, a revolt by people who do not know the limits of democracy, what, on the other side of the fence, can the people do to stop Government- sponsored terrors, abuses, financial misdeeds, tortures, transgressions of universal human rights and even downright murders?
Remember Memali? What could the helpless people who, in the mid 80s, were still eating ubi keledek for dinner, do? Other than to bath the dead, pray for them and bury them 6 feet in the ground? And believe that the dead are going to heaven as "syuhada"? What? And what danger were those people to the State?
In a democracy the people trade some of their freedom for the greater societal benefits that the State manifestly offer. The Government is the trustee of the people's freedom and the powers conferred by the people. Those trust properties are to be used only, and only for, the betterment of the society and the State. And the people choose those who are to govern. That is the crux of democracy. But does it end there? We vote and so it is democratic? That's it? And upon being elected, we are at your mercy?
What about the performance of the trust?
And so, apparently, if the people know their limits, the leaders can concentrate on developing the country. Like in China. Oh, how blessed is our developed Malaysia. During 22 years of DrM's rule, when all of us knew our limits, or made to know our limits, he so concentrated on the development of Malaysia. Let's see. We have:
- spanking nice highways but we have to pay tolls and the toll rate keeps on going up like an elevator to nowhere.
- an education system which serves as a fertile breeding ground for racial segregation and good for manufacturing humanoids.
- health care services which are almost non existent.
- a huge new administrative centre with no viable transportation system and parking space.
- a transportation system which is high on technology but really low on delivery.
- nice tallest twin towers in the world.
- nice race track which hosts 3 international races per year.
- broadband services which is anything but broad.
- etc etc
If DrM was right, that being undemocratic or not so democratic was productive in terms of development, why is Malaysia still not a developed nation after 22 years of benevolent absolutist rule? Why are we now mired in:
- racism - the least said the better.
- religious extremism and persecution - Dr Asri was just charged as I am writing this.
- corruption - look at the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2009 published 2 days ago.
- Governmental abuses - need I list them out?
- human rights transgressions - read Operasi Lalang.
- a societal beliefs in tahyul, bomoh and superstition.
- a societal transfixion with celebrities weddings, house decor, body and physical decor and upliftment.
- semi feudalistic idolatry of leaders and mini emperors.
- stupidity, even in the House of Parliament.
- a bunch of generation Z whose idea of progress is upgrading their iPhone3G to iPhone3GS.
- fill in the blank
22 years after. And we have these. Do these exist because our people did not know the limits of democracy for 22 years? Or because our leaders did not know the limit of their powers for 22 years and beyond?
Yes. According to DrM, the Westerners are wrong for making democracy and freedom the cornerstone of progress. The British are so free they go on strike every other day. Well, who sent people to the moon in 1969? Which part of the world had an industrial revolution? Why have Russia, East Germany, Romania et al embraced democracy and freedom? From whom did we buy our Scorpene? Why Glasnost and Perestroika? So the people know the limits of freedom and how to behave themselves properly and in accordance with the Government's code of behavioural acceptance?
And finally, according to DrM, apart from China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan will lead the Asian charge.
Which made me thinking, were Japan, South Korea and Taiwan governed by a benevolent absolutist government? Do the people in these countries know the limits of democracy? If so, to what extent? And who impose and define these limits on them?
Because the last time I checked, the South Koreans will come out on the street in droves to protest even the misuse of an office eraser by a Minister. The Taiwanese on the other hand would fight tooth and nail for the right to hog the microphone in their House of Representative. As for the Japanese, they just booted out their long non-performing Government.
So, India is too democratic and therefore they won't succeed?