Monday, October 13, 2008

DO WE NEED A STRONG GOVERNMENT


As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at www.chedet.com on October 13, 2008 3:03 PM

1. In a previous article I said that a multiracial country needs a strong Government.

2. A weak Government would not be able to deal with the quarrelling between the races, which is the natural tendency of most multiracial societies. Indeed in some multiracial countries violence and fighting are common. Witness the countries around us.

3. For the slightest reason the races would be at each other's throats. One incident was the reaction in some countries because of the currency crisis.

4. Even religious differences can lead to conflict and violence. We see this in Northern Ireland, Lebanon, India, Indonesia and elsewhere. It is important to remember that in Malaysia racial differences are associated with religious differences. We are already seeing incidents involving religious differences.

5. We now have a weak Government and clearly it is incapable of dealing with the tendency towards conflicts because of race and religion. Because of its weakness it commands little respect and even the weakest parties would thumb its collective noses at the Government. The Government apparently has no idea how to handle these problems. We see it apologising only to have it's apologies rejected.

6. The worst part is to find its apologies causing anger among the race for whom it is apologising. It has managed to displease everyone; to please no one.

7. Admittedly even a powerful Government, if it is incompetent and badly led would not manage to govern a multiracial country well. We see this happening with the present Government. In 2004 the people gave it almost unlimited power. But it was not able to use the power well and the people decided to reduce drastically its power. Now we see it floundering about, unable to deal with the sensitivities of a multiracial country.

8. The BN was a 14-party coalition of big and small parties. Because it was powerful the component parties did not challenge it. They know if they left the coalition they would be unable to exert any pressure on anyone.

9. Even if they join the opposition they would not be able to reduce the coalition's two-third majority enough to bring it down. For that reason none of the component parties would want to leave the coalition.

10. On the other hand a coalition of two parties would be very weak. This is because the bigger party need the smaller partner in order to achieve majority to form the Government.

11. Such a Government would be unstable as the smaller party could always threaten to leave and thus bring down the Government. On the other hand the smaller party can join the opposition giving it the majority to form a new Government.

12. The reason the BN was able to create political stability before was because it could not be threatened by any one of its component parties. If any one left the Coalition would not collapse. The party quitting would be out in the wilderness.

13. Presently because the Government coalition is weak every little party can thumb its nose at the Government. The Coalition Government could not afford to lose any component party's support. It is also not in a position to discipline its component parties.

14. The weak Government lives in fear of being toppled by its components switching side to support the opposition. That is why we see such silly things as sending members of Parliament to a foreign country ostensibly to study agriculture.

15. What does it mean to a multiracial country to have weak Government? The Government would not be able to concentrate on governing because it has to deal with continuous threats by its components of different races.

16. The stability of the country would be undermined. This would be bad for the economy. We are seeing today investors pulling out their money by the billions from the stock market; we are seeing little investment either by locals or foreign investors.

17. The trade balance is in our favour not because of anything smart done by this weak Government, but because the prices of oil, palm oil and rubber on the world market are very high (although now the prices are declining).

18. Generally the economy is bad, as bad as the race politics that we are seeing. The people are the ones to pay the price. They are suffering from high prices with no compensating increase in income.

19. We have had strong Governments for almost 50 years. When we gained independence few gave us any chance. They foresaw racial clashes and political instability.

20. But they are wrong. With strong Governments in place, the bickering between races was reduced. The country was stabilised and with that the economy grew. The objective of becoming a developed country by 2020 seems possible.

21. Now with this weak Government, with incompetent leadership the country is not developing as fast as it used to.

22. In a single ethnic country it does not matter if the Government is weak because it will not have to deal with the heavy pressure of racial conflicts even if the Government is less competent.

23. My observation of Malaysian politics over the last 50 years has convinced that a powerful Government lead by competent leaders is necessary for multi-racial Malaysia.