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Sunday, February 6, 2011

DemoNakKerusi or Democracy?

Malaysia tends to present dozens of parties because there are hundreds who would like to become leaders. People who will vote become divided into dozens of factions, perhaps because of ideologies but more often because of race or religion or constituent states or because the potential leaders have the wherewithal to finance the setting up of a party.

Elections may not result in the best candidates winning. Bribery, thuggery, badmouthing, religious trickery, nepotism and numerous other unsavory ways can bring victory to the candidates least suitable to lead a nation. On the other hand, the voters are not averse to using threats and demanding bribes either. They make ridiculous demand especially from the candidate on the government side. Their constituency or their village leaders or they themselves would demand for prestige or unnecessary projects. They demand for money to defray the cost of campaigning which too often goes into their own pockets. The party machinery may suddenly shut down in the middle of the campaign. Lots of time, money promises have to be made to get the machinery going again. Local leaders with influence or candidates who are not selected would threaten to withdraw the support of their personal followers. More money will be needed.

Losing one supporter must be replaced with two, one for not getting his vote and one for his vote being given to the opposition. It does not matter if personally the other candidate is totally unsuitable to lead, he would be supported to spite the candidate who failed to cater to the demands and threats by a few voters. It is not the majority who will wins. It is the cunning few who determine the victor in a closely contested fight. That is democracy.

Political campaigns never stop in Malaysia. It goes on from the announcement of the results of the current elections to the time when the campaign for the next elections begins. So the government and the government party must also campaign every day during the years in between elections. There is no end to political campaigns. It saps the energy and occupies the time of everyone, energy and time that should be spent on governing and developing the nation. When governments are weak, even good leaders cannot produce results. They are perpetually worried whether they would get support or not for whatever they are doing, whether they would be re-elected to finish their work. Weak government may be overthrown by street riots, strikes etc. The result is democratic anarchy. The people suffer from too much democracy.

Only a miracle leader can produce results in one term. It is impossible for a developing country to develop if every five years a new policy and plan is launched by a new leader to make a mark for himself. As a leader, knowing the routines and the procedures would take a year. It would take two years more to formulate and get parliamentary support for the policy, and the two years that are left are not even enough to launch the plan or policy, muss less to see results. Democracy in Malaysia is perhaps the best system to throw up good leaders but as has been pointed out, there is no guarantee that it will do that.

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