The Rocky Path to Political Maturity

Posted by M ws On Saturday, August 25, 2012 3 comments
Recently, The Star carried an article by Andrew Lo which revealed that "the Register of Societies has confirmed that there are currently 33 political parties in the country. Apparently, the number is still not enough because there are now 21 new parties applying to register — 13 in Sabah, four in Sarawak and another four in Peninsular Malaysia."

The writer observed that "whenever a general election is round the corner, political parties will start to mushroom.

Is this a healthy trend? Some may say that this is a sign that democracy is truly alive and well in Malaysia. Perhaps it is, but I also see it as a sign that we are unable to come up with political ideals and are lacking in political maturity."

Andrew Lo also questioned whether these political parties could be "truly effective" or if they are out just to have their moment of fame? It also appears that quite a lot of political parties are splinter groups of existing ones; formed by disgruntled former leaders who — more often than not – lost in the party elections. This has only convinced me that quite a lot of people are in politics not because of principles but more as a vehicle towards a goal."

Clearly, I daresay most Malaysians vote along party lines rather than the quality of candidates which could be one of the reasons why there could be ineffective ones being elected. Seldom do we see candidates who eloquently explain their views and commitment on economic, environmental, developmental and social issues that engage voters to think about our nation and to vote wisely, to identify needs and to express their hopes and aspirations to their elected leaders.

I surmise that to a very large extent, the campaign style in elections has stymied political maturity of voters because many do not take an active part in the community to which they belong and regard their token contribution of their votes as sufficient for answering the call to duty. But it goes way beyond that. Citizen awareness or the lack of it has given room for incompetent/lazy/corrupt/weak leaders to survive and some have even thrived, thanks to the absence of watchdogs.

To exacerbate matters, there are those who flaunt arrogance, espouse populist views just so they can earn popularity points. Naturally, this is a road to destruction as other parties and the media can also walk along the same road. A good example is the frog issue.

This has been eloquently presented by Josh Hong in his latest article on Normalising Malaysian Politics where he said:

To be frank, I have my strong reservations about the opposition alliance. While the frogging season has started again in Sabah, I remain acutely aware Anwar Ibrahim was responsible for bringing Umno into the Land Below the Wind in the early 1990s and altered radically the political landscape there. 
Had this not happened, the Kadazan Dusun community would not have been as politically marginalised as it is today. Yes, blame not only Mahathir, but Anwar and Pairin Kitingan also, the latter eventually succumbing to the allure of power and abandoning the very people that he claimed to represent. 
Moreover, Malaysian politics is largely driven by personalities. 
As far as Barisan Nasional is concerned, whatever promises of reform touted hinge very much on Najib Abdul Razak, with most of his cabinet colleagues – especially those from Umno – showing only lukewarm support.True to his opportunistic character, Najib simply steps back whenever the stakes are high. 
The same is true of Pakatan Rakyat, as all hopes of its supporters are pinned on Anwar, Lim Guan Eng and Hadi Awang. We need to put more pressure on the opposition parties to integrate their reform agenda into a broader framework of deliberation, contestation and accountability, and base it on firm and concrete political institutions. Rhetoric alone will never do the trick. 
Be that as it may, we must complete the new political process that was put in place by accident since 2008, cognisant also of the fact that the transition phase of democratisation is invariably fraught with pitfalls and entails great uncertainties, as Indonesia has experienced since the fall of the Suharto regime. 
However, it is a painful process that a semi-authoritarian country such as Malaysia must partake in so that we can one day be proud to say our political contestation is one that is rooted in fairness and transparency. Source: Malaysiakini

The problem is that many Malaysians do not really know what they want. They may not like the status quo and then opt for the Opposition as long as they can kick out the status quo. This is wrong and is reminiscent of a kid's temper tantrum when he screams and kicks because he does not want to eat his peas and will have anything but peas!

If we want to have a new government, we must put pressure on those aspirants to show us their quality in leadership and whether or not they can establish good governance.

Good governance sets the benchmark for development. It fosters:

  • participation
  • ensures transparency
  • demands accountability
  • promotes efficiency,
  • and upholds the rule of law in economic, political and administrative institutions and processes. 
Unless the alternative government can do all that, we can never be sure that our country will be a better place. And, they may not do all that unless they know we mean business when we set the demand that leaders meet certain standards in governance.

IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE ALL ELECTED LEADERS ARE MOTIVATED TO DO THE BEST THEY POSSIBLY CAN for the people as a whole. The universal goal of all governments and politicians would be to  optimize quality of life for the common good of all, for those living today and all those who come later, because the entire world is now in a permanent race to the top. Governmental corruption and incompetence would be a distant hazy memory. SOURCE: HERE

The book "The Dueling Loops of the Political Powerplace: Why Progressives Are Stymied and How They Can Find Their Way Again" presents some solutions to the deficiency in political maturity.

CLICK HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page where you can see the Vensim Models used in the book. Click on the green arrows to read all the 13 slides which discuss the importance of root cause analysis. Slide no 6 tells us that unless we find the root cause of what is ailing our country, "no amount of hard work and cleverness will prevail."

The author argues that the "Lack of a process that fits the problem is the ultimate reason progressives are stymied, no matter what country they may live in or what problem they are working on."

I couldn't agree more.

Unless leaders know what ails the country and seriously work towards solving those problems instead of solving THEIR problems, unless citizens rise to the occasion and really pressure their elected leaders to meet the mark in performance, it will be a rocky road to political maturity and nationhood.

3 comments to The Rocky Path to Political Maturity

  1. says:

    walla A more ideal political incubation bed will have to be laid looking towards GE14. Right now, we have only months if not weeks to GE13, too short a time to mint pristine politicians.

    Having said that, we are on the road to political maturity. Voters are more conscious that the root problem is economic and the first step to solving the problem is a clean and fair government as catalyst for other changes.

    We can't execute changes unless people trust a government, support its policies and work together to build new capabilities.

    The old formulaic approach by race, religion, rights and royalty has been destructive more than productive. Umno continues to adopt this approach with underhanded double-standards parlayed by the occasional lopsided dispensations using taxpayers' money even while taxpayers worry how they can survive on their savings when they retire with little to show for their work and sacrifice.

    There is a lot of unspoken grief in our society. Most don't work out how they will get by because they already know the answer. Many don't depend on their children in order to avoid loading them with the very commitments that they themselves have had to face an entire lifetime, short as it often is. That the future looks bleak for their children is also not lost on them.

    This economic problem where there are no possible solutions to heartrending issues in the near term compounds the other challenges that plague the minds of earnest moderate citizens every day of their lives - chauvinism and unfair treatment, inefficiency and corruption, security and harmony problems, falling standards and reduced opportunities, rising costs and static incomes...

    So that the primary question going forward into GE13 remains - which side has better claim to making the changes needed to overcome these problems, paucity of good candidates notwithstanding?

    That we are still asking this question despite half a century of Umno rule is itself indicative of the answer already before us.

  1. says:

    modernlifeisrubbish "IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE ALL ELECTED LEADERS ARE MOTIVATED TO DO THE BEST THEY POSSIBLY CAN for the people as a whole. The universal goal of all governments and politicians would be to optimize quality of life for the common good of all, for those living today and all those who come later..."

    For most people, the real world is where the rulers are only motivated to do the best they possibly can for themselves. The universal goal of all governments and politicians woudl be to optimize quality of life for themselves with little thoughts for those living today and all those who come later.

    Let's take a philosophical look at this "Imagine a world" statement from the point of view of the british empiricist David Hume, whom Bertrand Rusell called "one of the most important among philosophers, because he developed to its logical conclusion the empirical philosophy of (John) Locke and (George) Berkeley, and by making it self-consistent made it incredible."

    At the central Hume's moral philosophy, the latter statement describes how things "is" in the world while the former tells of what "ought" to be for the world to be a better place to lived in.

    The important question is how can we move from a descriptive statement of how things "is" to a prescriptive one of what "ought" to be done. Hume thinks that we cannot.

    "Reason alone cannot be a motive to the will, but rather is the 'slave of the passions'... we gain awareness of moral good and evil by experiencing the pleasure of approval and the uneasiness of disapproval when we contemplate a character trait or action from an imaginatively sensitive and unbiased point of view. Hume maintains against the rationalists that, although reason is needed to discover the facts of any concrete situation and the general social impact of a trait of character or a practice over time, reason alone is insufficient to yield a judgment that something is virtuous or vicious." We are ruled more by passions, human emotions and experiences, "pain or pleasures", not reason.

    Looking back at the "Imagine" premise again, most (i would say) people would infer that it was a factual, "is" judgment. The fact that there are leaders who are good people who would do their best for the people AND it is the universal goal of all govt/ politicians to optimize quality of life for the people. If only the people are wise enough to choose and elect other good people to be their leaders then the world will be as we all imagined.

    By using this logic, we failed to see perhaps some things. The false premise that there must be many good people who will become good leaders, or that good people will become good leaders. Where does it infer that a government's and/or politician's goals are to optimize people's quality of life.

    According to some interpretation of Hume's Law, moral judgments do not come from facts though the above premise is not even fact. The question is how do we get from "the rulers are only motivated to do the best they possibly can for themselves" to "a world where all elected leaders are motivated to do the best they possibly can for the people as a whole"? How do we get from a world that is the way it "is" to a world that "ought" to be?

    i don't have the answer to this. In the end, i could only imagine this better world, not for myself but for the future of our children and humanity as a whole.

  1. says:

    masterwordsmith Dear Walla and Joshua

    I bow in humility to the greatness in both your responses.

    And I am speechless!

    Thank you for infusing my blog with your insightful and incisive observations.

    We are blessed indeed!!!

    Take care and please keep on sharing :-).

    Warmest wishes

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