Sunday, August 29, 2010

Malaysia a failed democracy?

Anwar on universal values.
I have written a few articles on Anwar Ibrahim which I intended to serve as wake up calls for UMNO people. The last article was misinterpreted by some that I have weakened. Fortunately that isn't so. On the contrary it has emboldened my resolve to contribute in whatever ways to re energize UMNO. A good captain never abandon ship.
A few years ago in 2005, Anwar Ibrahim gave a speech entitled Universal Vales And Muslim Democracy. We shall see the usual trademark of Anwar doing what he does best- self vindication by association. It was a subtle exercise of self promotion. That he is around to be the bridesmaid of universal democracy but for his victimization at the hands of a regime which has adulterated democracy.
So for example, in the beginning of the article, while claiming that advances in the west have brought enlightenment to many parts of the world, in the form of universal democracy , there are certain parts of the world that refused to be absorbed into worldwide awakening.
Of course included in that part of the world which chose to remain primitive is Malaysia. As further proof to the obstinacy of Malaysia in accepting worldwide enlightenment, he goes to inform that his 6 year incarceration was indicative of Malaysia's primitiveness. Very clever and subtle. He is therefore a victim of an authoritarian and almost totalitarian regime.
Be that as it may, I shall refrain from saying that Anwar is a tool or agent of the West for saying this. Those UMNO people using this approach have only revealed that they are mentally lazy to dissect Anwar's intellectual trickery. My plan is to show the hollowness of Anwar's strategy. We shall show that he has to take this strategy because its self serving.
Whereas by Anwar's contention because of our plurality of identities, Malaysia should be an early candidate to accept this enlightenment. The concept of plurality of identities was coined by the Nobel Laureate Economist Amartya Sen. We assume that Anwar has read Sen's Development as Freedom and the Argumentative Indian. Despite my cynicism to whether Anwar actually reads what he quotes, he is at least aware of these works. UMNO leaders don't.
What happened to Malaysia then despite having its plurality of identities? It failed because of autocratic and almost totalitarian rule which sets the plurality of identities apart. He may be right in this aspect, but notice how he links this to his own personal experience.
It seems to me, that Anwar measures Malaysia's induction into the world of enlightenment via democracy by examining at how Malaysia treats him. Not a very good measure is it? The usual measures of democracy I believed does not include the treatment of one particular person. Perhaps it's this that Anwar does best- by having his own personal fight incorporated as part of a larger cause. Hence his own fight is a fight for greater democracy. His own salvation becomes a salvation for humanity.
This is what I mean vindication by association. Hence because Malaysia does not measure up to this standard, it is not a democratic country.
So the injustice visited upon him is because (1) Malaysia is a heretic of democracy and (2) Muslim Malaysia does not understand that being an Islamic country does not mean it cannot be democratic. In other words, Malaysia does not understand also the value of Islam.
It is therefore wrong for Malaysia to reject enlightenment via western democracy insists Anwar because it is wrong for people to reject the universal appeal of democracy. Also it is unIslamic. Democracy as first enunciated by John Locke, entering France through the writings of Voltaire and as said by Anwar reaching the shores of the new world and influencing the framers of the American Constitution, has universal application. Because it is such, any one country, modifying or localizing the universal principles of democracy are heretics.
See how he elevates democracy as a world religion. The heretics of course include those who promote the Asian values or democracy re-interpreted incorporating local values. Nothing doing says Anwar because, doing so, goes against the principles of universal democracy.
That reasoning is of course self serving. He was incarcerated as a result of Malaysia not practising the universal principles of democracy.
Anwar dismisses the idea behind Asian values in certain countries. He said this concept has been debunked. Confucian values stresses the primacy of self cultivation and therefore according to him, stresses also personal freedom. This is not correct because, the self is always subservient to the greater good of society. This is the essence of a filial society in Confucian scheme of things.
He provided examples of South Korea and Taiwan as being Confucian values driven societies who have spurned the idea of a local version of democracy. Anwar forgets modern Korea began with Park Chung Hee- a man who wasted no time removing the luxuries of western democracy as Anwar calls it. Taiwan was put on course of modernity by strongman Chiang Kai Shek. In all these countries, democracy was embraced not without modifications. Taiwan was able to catch up with western economies precisely because the state played a prominent and active supporting role.
Why must these small deviations from the universality of democratic principles be so important to Anwar's argument?
Because he wants to show that these small deviations result in a bastardization of democracy and that those countries usurping the universal tenets of democracy deserve condemnation and worldwide censure.
It is also crucial to show that he is being victimized for his role to uphold the purity of democracy. He is therefore the West's only hope to ensure the spread of democracy. Perhaps even to the necessity of carrying out a regime change.

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