When democracy equals corruption and power abuse by the politicians

umar mukhtar

Umar Mukhtar

Malaysians should learn from the Iraqi experience. When the United States of America wanted the Iraqi nation to be democratic like them, the Iraqis chose the one-man-one-vote thingy to vote along sectarian sentiments at the expense of the Sunni slight minority.

The ruling Shiites justify their election by sectarian arguments. So by right the Shiite majority should be happy having had the chance to choose their own leaders. Apparently not.

This week, the Shiite population stormed the capital’s governing quarter in protest. This time not over issues of age-old enmity but against officialdom’s corruption. Apparently, voting in your own kind does not assure you that your kind will take care of you better than themselves personally. In fact, it is doubly complicated because rising against your own kind will be viewed as selling out to the ‘enemy’.

Sounds familiar? In our fervour for our own kind to rule, we forget that corruption is not anybody’s monopoly. Power corrupts, whether in Putrajaya or Georgetown or Kota Bahru or Shah Alam. When we campaign in a democratic election, it is standard to accuse the other side of power abuse and rampant corruption. The truth is, deep inside, we want our own kind to rule.

Those elected on this basis find that they can take advantage of this enmity to line their own pockets. First, purportedly to help those who elected them, in order for the electorate to close one eye knowingly, but eventually that justification is used to keep the loot for themselves and their families.

And suddenly children of prime ministers become geniuses at being businessmen. They become billionaires almost overnight; oil-magnates, nuclear hardware industrialists and film producers.

The smaller chieftains mess around with smaller stuff, usually in sectors they have ranking power like timber allocations and land/water matters. Still, a sure sign of their propensity to move to bigger things if given the chance.

Suddenly, we become blind to these abuses in the name of ethnic and religious loyalties. Their abuses are the direct results of our abuses of the one-man-one-vote democracy. So blame ourselves, we deserve the government we get.

In fact, if the USA wants to destroy any emerging economy, they should export democracy to it. Then follow it up with the soon-to-be universal religion called human rights, where who goes to which public toilet is a national preoccupation when we still do not know how to use public toilets properly.

What actually are human rights? Nobody knows exactly. The goalposts keep moving. It appears that Guantanamo Bay and water-boarding are part of them if practised by the so-called champions of human rights themselves.

So this Sarawak election would be a merry time for hypocrites of all kinds. They promise the moon and the stars to a population who are more acquainted with living in longhouses than bungalows without a swimming pool.

During Rajah Brooke’s time, they lived like that till today. Except that, today, they are burdened with the additional responsibility to choose well, which ironically will not make any difference to their lot anyway.

It is not about being patronising, it’s about respect for a people to evolve in their own time. Competition with marauding greedy materialistic races?

If the colonialists were sensitive enough to reserve customary land and customary rights for the time at which these people could choose to do whatever with their lands, why the daylight robberies over these lands? Democracy becomes a tool to exploit a people whose values differ from ours?

They need the land so that the animals that they hunt for food can flourish. You need their land for the timber and minerals the lands yield, to enrich yourselves. There really is no difference between the two. Both sets of people want to live and actualise, albeit differently.

Leave our fellow citizens to their ways. Assimilation and proven loyalties? The Sarawak Rangers were on whose side? They fought to their deaths only to be ‘killed’ slowly by the people they trust?

Now they are challenged by new issues which had never bothered them before. Racism brought in by gung-ho politicians.

Democracy now requires them to choose between these racists or to fend off stupid disparagement of their benign tolerance just because they never cared about your religion, the colour of your skin or your culture. The Indonesians across the border tried to force them from their lands in the guise of transmigration and assimilation policies, and the indigenous response to that was spectacular. “Off with your heads, you greedy sluts!”