ASEAN Politics & government

[379] Of Malaysia and Indonesia

I have always thought Malaysia being far better than Indonesia in almost all conceivable ways. Economically, I could see no way Indonesia bypassing Malaysia in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, Malaysia is more stable than Indonesia for the simple reason that Malaysia does not have any separatist movement. Indonesia on the other hand suffers rebellious fractions from Aceh in the west to Irian Jaya in the east. Perhaps, the only thing Indonesia rules supremacy over Malaysia is in culture. Indonesia excels in Malay literature and music to be precise (though I despise one type of their music – dangdut).

In short, you could say I do not look upon Indonesia as equal in term of achievement.

However, recent events may change my perception on Indonesia; Indonesia seems to perform better than Malaysia with respect to political process.

Indonesians are currently voting for its President and there is a sign that Indonesia may on the way of having a new President. They even have a presidential debate, much like the US.

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, UMNO, Malaysian main ruling party, will be having its internal election this September. However, regardless the meaning of election, individuals in the UMNO supreme council have agreed that the top two posts in the party, the President and the Vice President, will not be contested. The reason given by the advocates of such arrangement is unity.

Many in UMNO may be concerned about the party becoming fractional. After all, UMNO itself has split three times and thus, such worry may be warranted. It is somewhat comprehensible to observe certain groups within the party to back such deal. Nevertheless, such fear is changing the party into a fascist one where the leaders are considered almost infallible. I am not saying that UMNO had embraced democracy in the near past but UMNO is heading to the wrong end of the spectrum.

The saddest thing is, UMNO calls this as a “guided democracy”. In Malay, it is known as demokrasi terpimpin.

The sponsors of a so-called guided democracy need to be reminded that there is no such thing as a guided democracy. A guided democracy is simply not a democracy. Rather, it is a fashion of autocracy. Jean Jacque Rousseau maybe favor such practice but, he is dead and we unfortunately are still here.

And because UMNO is the ruling party, this does not bore well for Malaysia.

Of late, despite the unwritten agreement that the top two posts will not be contested, there is a rumor that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a prominent Malaysian figure may be aiming at the presidency. A few people have openly declared their discomfort of seeing one of the top two posts being challenged.

If UMNO wants to prove itself as a democratic party, nobody in the party should express excessive displeasure if Tengku Razaleigh decided to go for the presidency. If Tengku Razaleigh managed to contest the seat, then that is a sign of democracy regardless whether he will win or lose.

I deeply wish to see the President and the Vice President seats to be contested. I believe, if there is a sign of democracy in the ruling party, then there is hope to see the implementation of a true democracy in the country. Else, then there will be a chance for us all to see a greater erosion of democracy in Malaysia.

If in any way Tengku Razaleigh is barred from challenging the presidency, then perhaps Indonesians are better at running a democracy.

In a presidential debate, of which is non-existence in Malaysia, the current Indonesian President, Megawati Sukarnoputri staggered. That is certainly a sign that she is not suited for the job. And thanks to democracy, people know that she is incapable of holding such position. On the contrary, in Malaysia, we have no way of knowing whether our leaders have the aptitude to lead us because all we eat is the skin, not the meat.

p/s – My Teddy Bear has chosen his running mate.

Say hi to My Action Figure!

pp/s – Dick Advocaat has resigned. Too bad.

ppp/s – Copa America has started but who cares. Copa America is not as exciting as Euro.

p^4 – FIFA updated the football world ranking today. The Netherlands stays at the fifth rung while Brazil is on top. The USA is on the seventh place (bah!) and Greece jumped (and jumped the Greek did) from 35th to 14th. Malaysia meanwhile lingers at 122. In fact, Malaysia fell 4 spots. Indonesia is at the 96th rung. Yeah, Indonesia is better than Malaysia in footie too. More at FIFA.

p^5/s – blogs all over Ann Arbor are garnering momentum against couch ban. The city council will vote on the matter on July 19th.

p^6/s – Malaysian Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is coming to the White House. There will be an event for Malaysians. Details:

Date : July 19, 2004 (Monday)
Time : 4.00 pm
Venue: Embassy of Malaysia, Washington DC

I am thinking of going.

p^7/s – The city council has approved the installation of traffic light on Plymouth Road. However, it is not in front of the Islamic Center where two Malaysians died after being hit by a truck.

By Hafiz Noor Shams

For more about me, please read this.

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