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Sunday, 12 April 2009

The Revolutionary Thoughts of PM Najib.

The PM said: - The age of Government knows best is over.

This is truly a revolutionary idea. Allow me to explain.

Why are we so obsessed with the question of leadership?

Here in Malaysia, we have 28 people forming the top echelon of political leadership. We then have 40 people serving as deputy ministers. We will soon have another phalanx of parliamentary secretaries and so forth. We have leaders of the civil service. We have the judiciary. We have the political and non political elites.

The political elite encompass members of the opposition party as they are also involved in the governance of this country. The non political elite include non-governmental organisations or any organisations not having formal political office but are nonetheless involved in the sense of providing political inputs in decision making processes. It may sound self patting, but non political elite would also include bloggers who are increasingly impactful in forming public opinion.

That would also include people who come from and inhabit a certain 'estate' who think they posses some kind of invincibility just because they have a powerful medium to publish their views. Some of them, who continue writing in the new media of the internet become irascible and fanatical media practitioners as soon as they discover, the new media can talk back. They also become highly schizophrenic because they no longer have monopoly over people's thinking.

Taken as a whole, this disparate group represents what? Not more than 5% of the population? This means the destiny and fate of this country depends on a slender group of people headed by the political elite. And within those political elite, power further resides with an even smaller number of people in the form of sitting cabinet ministers. It is this group that spearheads the fate of this country.

The answer as to why we are obsessed with the issue of leadership both as a concept and in practice is because the fate of this nation depends on them. Because of this high degree of link between leadership and fate of the nation, the issue of leadership quality is a pivotal one.

Here is a theoretical paradox. The idea of an elite governing this country, runs counter to the notion of participatory democracy where we visualise the participation of everyone in this country. This paradox is not insurmountable because the two opposites are reconcilable if we view that the aim of participatory democracy which is some form of egalitarianism CAN be implemented by the elite. The elite then become a benevolent leadership that identifies and fights for the interests of the marginalised and less fortunate.

The question that boils down, what is the egalitarianism we are fighting for? For practical purpose, I should think the egalitarianism we are talking about is to usher in equal opportunity for all. Further, equal opportunity must be understood as never to mean equality in outcome. Equality in outcome is achievable only if the government wedges itself in society and forcefully redistribute wealth for example. Certainly such an outcome is utopian in its purest form. It can only be enforced by extreme dictatorship. 

Therefore when the PM says, the age of government knows best is over, I am truly inspired. This short sentence is revolutionary! It is, because it amounts to a declaration that the PM intends to carry out reforms and changes which will be the opposite of what has been practised since 1957.

Since 1957, there has only been one perception of the government. That IT IS  the government that knows what's best for the people. In particular, for the Malays, the government is a rich uncle. The government then, was, is and will forever be the benevolent elite dispensing what's best for this country. Against this backdrop, I am not sure whether Dato Najib's declaration that this age is over is truly over. He may be up against a brick wall.

Is the statement that the age of government knows best signals less intrusion by the government in the lives of the rakyat? In particular, will this mean less patronage by the government on the Malays? The Malays have long accepted the practicality of having a government which knows best. They may even resist any attempts to dismantle the idea.

That is why I say, the short sentence by the PM is truly revolutionary.

10 comments:

Anonymous,  12 April 2009 at 19:18  

Worry or not to worry or let it be!!!
All along this new PM has been playing safe, no nothing.... so wonder whether this guy knew what he was saying.
It is not revolutionary but a reflection of someone who is confused and a below par unfit of charting the direction of the nation.
But never mind as he got a new brand GPS and a special satellite channel named TDM. So don't worry Malaysians, the worst that can happen to us is everyone will die sooner or later. Sicko leadership. LKY8788

Anonymous,  12 April 2009 at 20:32  

do u notice that when he compliments najib, there will be no comments. but whenever he ridicules najib, a flutter of cheerleaders came in and took part in najib bashing... hhhmmmm....

kuldeep 12 April 2009 at 21:09  

DS Najib is setting up all the necessary razzmatazz that's reflective of a well thought out PR or rebranding exercise.
The slogans are more in touch with the people aspirations rather then Pak Lah's moon missions of gemilang,cemerlang and terbilang.

Thats the big positive thus far.And the mood of "understanding the challenges of the rakyat and working for the rakyat " is percolating nicely with the other cabinet ministers too based on the interviews thus far.

Going fwd slogans must be translated into tangibles.Pak Lah failed cos his moon didn't shed any light to the rakyat.

The rakyat always knows best but the rakyat needs a good govt to translate their needs into action.

Most of the rakyat do not aspire to be contractors,AP holders or concessionaires.But they are unhappy if resources are wasted and given away cheaply cos at the end of the day..they hv to suffer the consequence.

And,the rakyat does not care for KPIs too...cos come PRU 13 they will do the KPIng of DS Najib and his cabinet.

donplaypuks® 12 April 2009 at 22:58  

S'pore too recognises that this era of 'Government knows best' is over.

They have gone 1 step further with the appointment of a foreigner to manage Temasik. I don't agree with this since the natuions' Top Investment Secrets are at stake. But note, this move too comes from the Govt which contradicts this new found modesty of an over-the-top paternalistic regime.

Perhaps what Najib should do is to set up a totally new Think Tank comprising men & women from the Cabinet, Civil Service & GLC's and the Private Sector to make dispassionate recommendations to the Govt.

This TT should be over-weight on private sector representation because that's where most of our entrepreneurs and thinkers are found and which generates most of the nation's wealth.

Let's leave racial quota out of this TT, and certainly TDM and TD who have a certain fixed and old Economics way of thinking that will jar with a new world global economic downturn!
http://donplaypuks.blogspot.com

Shahnon 12 April 2009 at 23:32  

The rakyat, I believe, is waiting for him to walk the talk.. :)

spotthebloggers@gmail.com 13 April 2009 at 02:48  

Laman blog anda telah disenaraikan di dlm:

http://spotthebloggers.blogspot.com

Sila emailkan bantahan sekiranya tidak mendapat izin/perkenan dari anda. Komen/cadangan dialu-alukan. T.k.

Ree,  13 April 2009 at 16:11  

Talk is cheap!

Even the stimulus package he announced followed the G knows best mentality.

Anonymous,  13 April 2009 at 20:47  

"The age of Government knows best is over". DSN's statement is probably worthy of a 1 hour speech in itself. He should have taken the time to elaborate his views and thoughts on the matter to the general public instead of leaving it to people to ponder and give their two sens on the matter.

It is most disappointing that he also handled the 1Malaysia matter in a similar manner. He should have made it very clear from the onset what exactly he meant by it. DSN was not peddling soap or biscuits. He was selling a thought that was supposed to become part of the national psyche.

It looks like his PR team generated a list of buzz words and left it at that. The buzz words had not substance to back them up. Now we are left with nothing but empty slogans. As I see it, DSN is already flip flopping. Not a good sign. Not a good sign at all.

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