The Indispensable Opposition

The year is drawing to a close. It is, as usual, time for reflections, resolutions and for some, hopefully not regrets. As we treasure the last few hours of 2009, I thought it might be useful to remind ourselves about the inherent need for an effective opposition in a democratic country with this rewritten post which was originally posted in this blog before it was deleted for housekeeping reasons. I would love to hear your response to my thought. Thanks. Take care and have a nice day! Happy 2010!

By Masterwordsmith

The Indispensable Opposition

Politics, like religion, love and the arts, is a theme that has fascinated man for centuries. At an elementary level, politics is the mechanics of who gets what, when and how because it is concerned with the conflicts between the demands for certain satisfaction. I opine that as Malaysians, we should not be too dejected about our current political atmosphere or lack of it, because such conflicts are characteristic of almost every society on the face of this earth.

You see, the allocation of scarce resources to unlimited wants that I waxed lyrical in my Economics classes is not merely an economic function; it is also a political act!

Look around us. The government influences individuals in wages, needs, desires and the economics of everyday living. We have reached a stage where resources can no longer be distributed in accordance with the relative bargaining power of its members.

So, someone or some group must take its place to say what must be done and how it should be accomplished. As such, many problems, social and economic, are to be settled politically or by the authoritative decision making process of society.

However, when a decision is made to tackle a problem politically, there are questions of rights and obligations to be determined. If we were to consider these, then the necessity of politics becomes obvious.

I remember reading that Woodrow Wilson advocated that democracy was a panacea – the best political system for any and every country. I am sure he is right. Today, ‘democracy’ as a political concept has acquired universal prestige in that even dictatorships want to pass off as democratic systems using doctored terms such as ‘guided democracy’, ‘basic democracy’,’limited democracy and other forms of hogwash.

Democracy is rule by the majority. Dialogue, debate and freedom are important apart from political and legal equality, free election, responsible and representative government etc. with the liberty of the individual.

In a democratic country like Malaysia, political freedom is a noble idea. It is a luxury that cannot be enjoyed as can be seen by the sequence of events in the media. Sadly, the government does not realize that to improve in their perspective (in the first place, I hope they have perspective), they must learn to listen to the opinions of others. It is NOT an act of tolerance. Those in power MUST realize that the freedom of speech of others is THEIR need and it is the best system for discovering the truth.

Therefore, in that respect, the opposition is indispensable.

I wonder whether our politicians realize that even dictators avail themselves to public opinion collected by secret police. Another thing that our leaders DO NOT recognize is the that the failure of despotism is due to the absence of free discussion and the CAUCUS OF “YES-MEN” on whom they rely!

Malaysian leaders must realize that the essence in the freedom of speech lies in the confrontation of opinion. To steal that away from us means they will have no opinion whatsoever. The preservation and development of freedom of opinion facilitates a healthy debate – a give and take of honest opinion. In Malaysia, objection could sometimes be regarded as anathema and one could land end up in hot soup for doing just that!