Without a doubt, the 13th General Election is the hottest topic in the political realm recently.
It is important for the GE to uphold the spirit of democracy by allowing people to voice out their opinions, in the manner of marking a cross in a box. At times, some voters draw a smaller cross, implying that they reject that particular candidate (this is quite common in Malaysia). Which begs the question: Is the concept of democracy merely confined to the small little cross, or the right to choose who I dislike the least?
To be frank, I am not qualified to provide an answer. A better one may perhaps be found in Wikipedia or via Google. However, I would like to point out my observations of some definitely crooked interpretations of democracy.
Tracing back to ancient origins, it has been widely known that the democratic system was first established in Greece around 500 BC. Due to the myth of the Lord-chosen King, human civilisation was not well prepared to adopt the system until the 20th century. Now, democracy has become one of the most effective propaganda to justify one’s intentions, as its application involves a form of equality, emphasising that no one person is greater than another. Democracy exists as though it has divine power to anoint those who abide faithfully to its principles. Dictators create their own version of democracy, politicians equip themselves with democracy, the public never stops yearning for democracy – even children and students are crying for democracy (I am one of them)!
It will definitely be convenient for us to encompass democracy in the course of our actions. Its effect is similar to that of eating instant noodles – the enjoyment of its convenience often causes one to overlook its “dangers”. Here are some examples of choking or suffering from cancer due to the overconsumption of instant democracy:
First is Greece, the founder of democracy itself, the first country to abide by its people’s wishes. Its citizens wanted to lead an easy yet fruitful life. The government, despite incredible amounts of national deficit, insisted on granting expensive welfare provisions in order to gain public support. For instance, civil servants were greatly rewarded for their punctuality, and daughter(s) of retired civil servants could continue to enjoy pension benefits even after the passing of their parents. The Greeks had to eventually pay a high price for it, while the Eurozone and the rest of the world bore the brunt of their crooked democracy. (Let’s try not to relate the future of Malaysia with Greece in mind.)
Secondly, we look at Thailand – our friendly neighbour. Over there, democracy is a primary right. On top of the recent disastrous flooding, Thailand is also still recovering from the long political battle between the governing parties and their opposition. During 2008–10, a misinterpretation of democracy led to a total destruction of their friendly and approachable image in the eyes of the world. The nation was torn apart by the “yellow shirt” and “red shirt” supporters, when before, Thailand was one of the most popular tourist destinations prior to the series of protests and violent riots. Is multi-political partisanship still the best policy to protect the political health of the nation? (Again, let’s stop projecting future Malaysia image into Thailand’s scenario.)
Finally, we must not neglect the United States – the most prominent democratic nation in the world. They might have professed democracy as a faithful angel of the nation, but they would turn into a fallen angel whenever there is discord with other countries. The United States insisted on igniting wars in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq without even consulting the United Nations. It also continuously provides military weapons to controversial nations such as Taiwan and Israel, which increases the political tension among their neighbouring countries. As such, the most democratic nation is also the nation which always declares wars. Isn’t this ironic?
There are too many instances to be mentioned one by one. Although my examples above may seem rather extreme, I am not trying to disregard or discourage the importance of democracy. The message I am trying to convey is that democracy is not a panacea for all ills. A balance must ultimately be reached amid all the ranting voices in the nation.
As a law student, I do appreciate the significant contributions the democratic system has brought forth to the world. However, every system and theory has its flaws. Since democracy is an inseparable part of our current civilisation, we should always look at the model of democracy in other countries and reflect on ourselves. If we don’t, I have a strong feeling that that we may fall into the trap which Greece and Thailand have suffered. This is based on the fact that the opposition parties are getting stronger and the culture of a short-sighted welfare state is emerging.
While we are demanding for more subsidies and goodies, do not forget to look thoroughly into our country’s financial ability. While we yearn for more protection of human rights, never forget that reform takes time. While we indulge in the political comedy broadcasted in Malaysia (Obedient Wives Club, some super long-lasting sperms, engineless helicopters, etc), we must remember that we are not blameless in causing all these absurd jokes.
In short, be a responsible Malaysian and undilah!
P.S. If someone tries to bribe you for your vote, please make a report to the Election Commission (tel: 03-8885 6500)