The domino effect

Dr Mahathir Mohamad

 1. It looks like the Arab countries are experiencing some kind of revolution. Apparently the people are not happy with the leadership of their largely authoritarian Governments. Equally obviously they want a change of Governments or the leaders.
2. The revolution has succeeded in Tunisia. Now we are seeing upheavals in Egypt.

3. Should these revolutions succeed there would be new Governments. But it is worthwhile to remember that change is not always for the better. It is incumbent upon those bent on effecting change to have some idea about the kind of Governments they want. Otherwise they may get the same kind of Governments that they try so hard to be rid off. This is because most leaders upon achieving power would change and would forget the struggles and sacrifices which enabled them to be in power. Power corrupts as we all know.

4. Perhaps in order to avoid a new dictatorship from emerging, democracy would be chosen. A democratic leader can be changed merely through voting.

5. But the system can be abused. Either the elected leader would fix elections to perpetuate his office or there would be a series of ineffective Governments as the people reject each one with their votes. This will cause instability. The country would be no better.

6. To avoid this the electorate must not allow themselves to be manipulated. They must exercise their voting rights judiciously. But this would be something new to them and they may not be skilled enough in exercising their power to choose.

7. I will not presume to know all the needs of the countries concerned, much less to provide solutions.

8. Whatever, the new Governments must never forget the people who so courageously rose against the previous Governments. They had done so because they expect a better Government which will care for the people. I am told that high unemployment rate is one of the major causes. This problem must be given priority or the same fate will be met by the new Government. This will require better management of the economy, in particular the creation of more jobs.

9. Corruption in the administration must be reduced. Drastic measures will be needed. For this the most important thing is for the new ruling elites, particularly the leader, however chosen to demonstrate that they are not corrupt.

10. The skills in administration must be upgraded so that Government would be able to deliver on promises of better governance.