Monday, 1 March 2010

Road to political change

Brave New World (The Star)
February 18, 2010

"Our country needs a two-party system. Not as a panacea to all the nation’s ills, but as an important first step towards a vibrant democracy where there will be greater hope for things to improve."

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I READ an interesting article criticising the Penang Government for being too business-friendly. In other words, the Pakatan government is behaving in the same capitalist fashion as the former Barisan Nasional government.
Examples that were used included the continued development of hillside land.
A similar complaint has been made against the Selangor Government which has apparently softened its outright ban on hillside development.
The writer of the article claims that this is because of the powerful business lobby, namely the developers lobby.
He may very well have a point, but one line struck me.
He said that this kind of behaviour by Pakatan suggests that a two party-system makes little or no difference.
After all, what is the point of having one bunch of capitalist to replace another? Shouldn’t we have a real choice with truly different parties and different ideologies?
To be fair to Pakatan, even if they are closet capitalists, they do have a different stance than Barisan and that is their non-race-based policy. To me, that is a pretty big and important difference.
However, that is still besides the point. A proper two-party system, where one group can actually lose and be replaced by another is, like I stated earlier, merely a first step.
Only with the real fear of being booted out of office can any change occur. And by change, I do not mean necessarily that suddenly we change from a capitalist state to a socialist one.
I mean the little changes which are needed to give people a real choice.
We desperately need a free press, for example. Newspapers that are free to provide an alternative view.
Therefore, the Printing Presses and Publications Act needs to go.
I realise that even without this law, a newspaper would still be bound by the wishes of its owner. But at least without this law anyone can start a newspaper and the people will have a choice.
And it is only with free and open discussion can there be other developments, for example the dissemination of different economic ideologies.
So, if you want the people to have a less capitalistic viewpoint, they have first to be exposed to that viewpoint.
Another law that has to be amended or done away with is the Societies Act.
If this was done, anyone can establish a political party. There will be many useless little ones, of course, but a few may survive and even if they are small they could still be influential.
In most democracies, the harsh realities of politics usually mean that two parties tend to be dominant.
But if we look at some of these countries we also see the possibility of a third party, perhaps with little chance of actually taking power but with enough clout to be influential, for example the Green Party of Germany with their eco-message.
Furthermore, with the necessary changes in place, a most vital third force in politics will be able to come into play — civil society.
Politicians are politicians and as such they will always be bound by several things.
Their party line is one but also their unquenchable thirst to hang on to power.
It is up to civil society, therefore, to keep them honest and in order to do this, they need the freedom to associate and the freedom to express — things which can’t be done properly with the two laws mentioned above.
These changes I mention are relatively small, but they will not occur if there is no change of government, because the laws I mention maintain the status quo.
Why would the wielders of power want to change the status quo?
It is for this reason that we need to have a viable two-party system. It won’t be a magic bullet, just to change one government with another, but it would be the start for real change to occur.

7 comments:

Jeganarth said...

Two party system could provide the best offer to the peoples and the people may choose which satisfy them. But the problem I guess the agenda and ideology of another party in week condition not disclose to others. As you said the problem is with the P&P act. I reallyhope for that kind of political system here soon.

SANSIRO said...

More than 2 party system what I would really like to see is candidates who are genuine. Who are run for the office based on principles, integrity and also educated. I am tired listening to craps from this bunch of morons.

Desmond Thia said...

Couldn't agree more with Azmi about the need for a 2 party system. But for any chance of that happening, we must get kick out UMNO/BN first.They must be not just be made to lose the next general election, but made to lose by a very large margin; so that the right message is sent to them; that they serve at the pleasure of the citizens, and that it is not their birth right to rule and lord over the citizens.

The biggest challenge is for the people to see this larger picture(as so succinctly put by Azmi), for the long term benefit of all Malaysians, rather than some short term gains and for a select group, which UMNO/BN is what is all about.

So Malaysians, wake up to the fact that UMNO/BN will be the ruination to you,me, us and the country and the future of all Malaysians.

If you care for the future of yourself,if you care for the future of your family, if you care for the future of Malaysia, there is one thing you MUST do. Vote UMNO/BN out of political power and end its stranglehold of the government.

rocky said...

a monopoly is always bad for the customer. competition is good cos they need to be on their toes and give the best price and service etc, they need to fight to keep the bis at all levels to ensure repeat orders.

same things apply to political parties and rakyat. In one party, we get screwed and they spend more time enriching themselves, forget about serving the people.Look at UMNO/BN and you can see how a monopoly had behaved and they are unable to change when facing competition. They are hoping the competition will die and they are trying their best to kill them. but UMNO/BN is not trying to become better. That is a monopoly that doesn't know how to change or want to change to play a game with competition.

with competition, well they need to serve the people and deliver what they promised. Look at PR, they have no choice but to serve the people. They need to be clean and make sure every buck is accounted for cos they need to show the customer, us that they are different although they earn the same salary as previous govt. and in Selangor, i do not see this PR govt taking away play grounds or land for schools or telecom centers for commercial development. if UMNO/BN monopoly, we people we still need to fight the govt that is suppose to serve us from taking away our green lungs. how can that be...well we know la.

so competition is good, keeps people on their toes. and we the rakyat will come out winners, so lets have a at least a 2 party system

Antares said...

Looks like we've taken the scenic route to real reform. Good one, Azmi!

Krishna said...

Prof,

This country will not have two party system like the US. In this country everyone is a leader and will have a party. Every party will have breakaway splinter groups. The best we can have is like the present - a coalition of parties like PR and BN. But as you see they can be a lot of problems having such coalitions but it seems to be the best solution for the present until Malaysians can see themselves as one people and kick out race based politics.

zane said...

You are absolutely right! We need to change, malaysia desperately needs a change in the leadership. We are sick of BN to the extent that seeing najib's and Rosmah's face on TV creates such disgusting feeling..i almost feel like throwing up!

Please guys... together we figure out ways to boot them out. I can't take it no more!