An article from a Malaysian business daily, The Edge Daily. Kishore Mahbubani thinks that China has the most meritocratic government in the world. Well, I think it is a toss between Singapore and China. However, Singapore being a small city state, should be relatively easy to govern in comparison to China. Thus, I agree with him then.
Mahbubani called for demonstrations in Malaysia to be regulated, instead of being banned altogether. I think it is a good idea. Malaysia is ready for more robust from of democracy. As for China, I think it should be ready for that in the next few years. It has to be done gradually, starting from more affluent cities, where there is sizable middle class population. Already people in Shanghai and Xiamen are already making their view know in mass peaceful demonstration against planned construction in their neighbourhoods.
17-06-2008: Mahbubani: Malaysia can try ‘regulating’ protests
by Kevin Tan
KUALA LUMPUR: Former Singaporean envoy to the United Nations Prof Kishore Mahbubani has suggested that Malaysia regulate demonstrations instead of banning them outright in response to protests against the recent fuel price hike.
Mahbubani, who is currently the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in the National University of Singapore, said “regulated demonstrations” were a norm in many democratic countries.
“Demonstrations are a sign of democracy. Someone once told me this: In the old days when 50,000 miners went on strike in the UK, the country carried on – democracy handles demonstrations. But when 5,000 miners went to strike in Poland, the system collapsed.”
“If you have demonstrations, it is a sign that your country can handle disturbances. Frankly, the conventional wisdom is the recent election shows there is strong democracy in Malaysia,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on East Asia here yesterday.
However, Mahbubani also stressed that it was necessary to have “a certain degree of law and order”.
“I lived in New York for 10 years. When you have demonstrations in New York, you’d have a massive turnout of the police force, you’d have massive wooden barriers and you’d have controlled demonstrations.
“They (the demonstrators) were told where they could go, where they could not go. For example, they cannot go inside the UN and block the way to the UN. If you regulate demonstrations, it is also a part of democracy,” he said.
In a talk at the forum earlier, Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam said subsidies were linked to politics and some countries had to maintain subsidies as their politicians had to accommodate demands of their constituencies.
He added that demonstrations had also become more frequent in Malaysia now and attributed them to the country’s success in creating a large middle class.
Musa said the government was becoming “more tolerant” of these demonstrations as the people had become more educated.
“Thanks to the results of the election, which saw various parties having stakes in different levels of government, they won’t go beyond the limit of creating so much turmoil because they have a stake in them,” he added.
On another issue, Mahbubani pointed out that the standards of governance in the US were deteriorating, but most people were not aware of this.
“America now provides many models of incompetence. I give you a simple example. Recently, you see many airline terminals being opened. It was a disaster. Absolute disaster.”
“But you look at China and Singapore, if you look at the airports in Asia, they are much better than Western airports,” he said.
Mahbubani said Asia was doing much better than the West in many areas now and it was time for the West to learn from Asia.
“China today is providing models of good governance in many respects that the West doesn’t want to study and pay attention to,” he said.
Many did not realise that China was “the most meritocratic government in the world”, he said, because it was still run by the Chinese Communist Party.
“The people selected to serve as mayors, to serve as vice ministers are highly qualified and are more competent than their counterparts in America and Europe, but no one has paid attention to that. That’s shocking.”
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