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Sakmongkol ak 47

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Thus Speaks Madam Zorra!

The DPM’s interview with Utusan.

To a large extent this has been reflected in the 12th General Elections. The newly discovered social consciousness as it were, spills over into more mundane areas such as the way of looking at development for example. People now consider development as also a means to getting freedom from the tyranny of the status quo and mental tyranny. The people rejected the BN government during the recent elections because they chose to free themselves from mental bondage.

Although not articulated as a serious intellectual discourse among the electorate, there is a growing perception that development is no longer measured by GDP alone. The urgings of the electorate towards more assertiveness of their individualism may be indicative of the application of the concept of development as FREEDOM. This of course is the thinking expounded by the Indian Nobel Prize winner in Economics, Amartya Sen whose famous book is Development as freedom.

Perhaps it is instructive to examine the main threads of Professor Sen’s seminal idea.

Development as Freedom is a popular summary of economist Amartya Sen's work on development. In it he explores the relationship between freedom and development, the ways in which freedom is both a basic constituent of development in itself and an enabling key to other aspects.

Rather than the common focus on income and wealth, or on mental satisfaction (by utilitarians) or processes (by libertarians), Sen suggests a focus on what he calls capabilities — substantive human freedoms.

Freedom is both constitutive of development and instrumental to it: instrumental freedoms include political freedom, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency, and security, which are all different but inter-connected.

I don’t think the electorate has time to read Amartya Sen. But certainly they have exercised a choice reflecting the application of this new trend of looking at the meaning of development.

Take the case for economic facilities and transparency. Far from scoring in the GLC department as suggested by one blogger, what we are witnessing at present is the concentration of greater economic monopolies by even more connected corporations on an unprecedented scale. Has anyone analysed the top 20 GLCs that the PM proudly said had improved their performance by 91%? Are they in the real sector( actually producing material goods) or are they largely in the financial sector?.

We know the game they are playing. The government has since cancelled the development of the Penang International Convention Centre which would have been developed by close associates of the PM. The Penang bridge is built by who? The development undertaken with the oil royalties in Terengganu are monopolised by companies controlled by associates of the PM. The double tracking, the supply of coal to TNB, the supply of bus coaches and public transport are or will be controlled by Scomi.

Hence, development as spoken by the DPM and vouch-safed by the naturally submissive and respectful Utusan interviewers is seen as nothing more than a race to govern in order to determine who control the purse strings on the country.

Thus in spite of the skewed and blinkered assertions of the Utusan Malaysia reporters, people are actually interested in development matters. The growth of independent minds is also a choice valued and preferred by the people.

These verbal semantics implying that people move hither and thither between sentiments and hard development trivialises people’s common sense and are just attempts at skirting the issues.

It is an extension of the pursuit of development as freedom that people are no longer gullible to the idea that they are beholden to UMNO until kingdom come. No one will deny that UMNO( 1946-1970) has been instrumental in developing Malaysia and from 1970(BN) to the present it has continued to do so. But that acceptance of its role cannot be translated into a perpetual bondage. It has precisely been the fruits of development that many more Malaysians are aware of the historical role that each can play in charting their own destiny. UMNO can no longer have all the cake and eat it at the same time.

The place of UMNO in history is a given fact. The voters who exercised their choice in the March 8 elections indeed recognised this fact, but refused to be shackled by the idea of being forever beholden. We need to move on and so does UMNO.

I think it will not be fair to demand that within the confines of a ceramah to provide the details of one’s policies. If I were to ask any minister within a time constraint of an hour, he will offer me incorrigible gibberish.

To demean and belittle our opponent just because he has chosen an electorate where he is most comfortable, is laughable. All our ministers and ketua bahagians contested in areas where they are most comfortable with. They go into an elections to win and that desire is shared by every political contestant.

Who is madam Zorra?

Finally I wish to say why I choose the name madam Zorra? Ha ha. I was searching for the name of the fictitious character who writes as a columnist to whom readers write to, asking all sorts of personal advice and wise counsel. You know- the character people ask when they have personal problems, girlfriend and boyfriend problems, asking how to clear pimples etc. well, I can’t remember the name of that character but the image of the gypsy lady in either a tent or caravan with her crystal ball kept coming. She also doubles up as a personal counsellor as well as a clairvoyant.

Now, the DPM has taken up a new role as counsellor relieving personal stresses and so forth. Hence for want of a name, I used the character Madam Zorra. Ha ha. Therefore in answer to the exhortation by a blogger to use our thinking caps, when reading the earth shattering revelations in the interview, WE DID SIR.


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