The Third Way

Politics is not a dead thing. Neither can it afford to be lifeless. It is an organic thing that will need to be injected with new kind of mentality when it reaches a certain stage.

By TAY TIAN YAN/Translated by DOMINIC LOH/Sin Chew Daily

DAP has proposed a “Middle Malaysia” as a new path for the country in the midst of current confusion and chaos.

This proposal by the new generation of leaders in DAP reflects the aspirations of young leaders towards the nation and their yearning to mould a common vision for all Malaysians.

In the lapse of 50 years, many organisms on this planet have gone extinct. The Cold War was ended. And the Soviet Union was disintegrated.

It is most unbecoming for Malaysia’s political discourse to stay where it used to be.

That said, the political model that has been in use here for half a century, keeps being fried up by political parties.

Only they put in the old wine in a new bottle, and change the packaging.

Like an old professor in the university, still using the same old way teaching the same old thing over the decades, with his students either falling asleep or walking out in discontent.

If the professor stays in the class, the students have got to slip out.

Politics is not a dead thing. Neither can it afford to be lifeless. It is an organic thing that will need to be injected with new kind of mentality when it reaches a certain stage.

The old and antiquated has to go to make way for the new.

The Thatcherism that led Great Britain towards economic recovery in the last decade of the 20th century begins to appear pale and listless.

The Tory administration headed by Margaret Thatcher created economic miracles with its business-friendly privatisation policies. However, the same practice also brought some undesirable side effects, giving rise to high inflation, unemployment as well as a widening income gap and deteriorating living qualities.

The British voters were grossly unhappy with the Thatcher administration, thinking that it was a merciless, selfish government that takes care of the interests of a handful of people.

At the same time, Thatcherism’s twin in America, the once flourishing Reagan administration, was tailing to an end.

Even as the United States won the first war on Iraq, the domestic economy was in tatters and social conflicts deepened. The American public became sick of the Republican administration under George Bush.

That was when Cambridge political sociology professor Anthony Giddens published his book The Third Way.

His discourse, while on the one hand opposing the connivance of Thatcherism and Reaganomics towards uncurbed capitalism, also lashed out at the Labour Party’s erstwhile left tilt and overemphasis on welfare policies, resulting in lack of social vibrance.

He proposed a Third Way that upheld the pragmatism and competitiveness of rightist capitalism, and integrated them with the socialist ideals and sentimentalism.

His philosophy could never be expressed simply by a few paragraphs of text here. In short, seeing the changing times and social transformation, Giddens proposed his new political view.

Giddens’ discourse won the recognition of young Labour Party leaders such as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and has been widely adopted and implemented by them.

New generation leaders across the Atlantic, such as Bill Clinton, have also been influenced by him.

Following that, Blair and Clinton, the paramount leaders of Britain and America, adopted the Third Way in their administrations and injected into their respective countries a new lease of life and prosperity.

The new political discourse, be if from BN or Pakatan, will flourish so long as it meets the changes within the society as well as expectations from the public.