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Sakmongkol ak 47

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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Will Sarawak reach the tipping point?

No, this is not a direct essay about and on Sarawak. But I hope this article by Gary S Becker will help us understand and perhaps appreciate what is going on and can happen in Sarawak.

The article which I reproduced here is taken from Becker's essay entitled Abrupt Change of Authoritarian Regimes.

The Tunisian and Egyptian political eruptions were pretty much totally unexpected by the governments of the United States and of other countries, and by the vast majority of experts on Egypt and the Islamic world. To be sure, experts were aware that the government of say Egypt was not popular among many segments of the population, including The Muslim Brotherhood, most intellectuals, and many members of the growing middle class. However, the timing and speed of the uprising there (and in Tunisia) was rather a complete surprise since Mubarak and Ben Ali were in power for over 20 years, and seemingly in rather complete control.


 

I was first impressed by the unexpected and speedy nature of the overthrow of authoritarian regimes in 1979 when a combination of religious and leftwing groups forced the Shah of Iran from power. Until very close to the end he looked invulnerable: he seemed to be in full control of a strong and well-equipped army, and had an active and dreaded secret police, the SAVAK, that imprisoned anyone who vocally attacked the government. That the overthrow was unexpected is objectively measured by the stability of the international value of the Iranian currency, the rial, until just a few weeks before the Shah was ousted. Had the overthrow been anticipated, the value of the currency would have plunged as Iranians and others tried to get out of rials into dollars and other hard currencies. The rial did plunge in value shortly after the revolution appeared to be succeeding.


 

The rapid disintegration of the Soviet Union is another telling example. In 1989 my wife and I took a train from West Berlin through East Germany to go to Warsaw. The customs agents in East Germany were unpleasant, and the East German government headed by Erich Honecker seemed totally in charge. Much to my surprise, less than six months later, close to one million younger men and women were demonstrating in the streets, and the government was soon quickly gone, along with most of the Russian empire.


 

The unexpected nature and the speed of the overthrow of these and other authoritarian regimes is what is so glaring and challenging to theories of authoritarian rule. Analytically, what happens is that over time such a regime may be shifting in unnoticed ways from stable equilibrium positions, where the government is in rather complete control, to an unstable equilibrium where seemingly small events trigger massive changes, including the ouster of the government. The overthrow of the government may be quick and without much violence, as in the East German and Tunisian cases, or involve considerable violence, as during and especially after, the Iranian revolution.


 

Such unstable equilibria are sometimes called "tipping points". This term was first used to describe rapid changes in housing neighborhoods from being mainly white and Christian to "tipping", and then rapidly becoming mainly black or Jewish. A neighborhood may remain basically say all white until a few black families move in. If more black households move in over time, their fraction may become large enough that many white residents begin to panic, and put their houses up for sale. After that the neighborhood quickly "tips" into becoming a mainly black neighborhood.


 

The basic underlying reason that authoritarian regimes fall quickly, with or without violence, is that, as Posner emphasizes, they do not have any natural succession process. A strong man like Mubarak would be in power, but as he ages and gets weaker who is to succeed him? His son or confidants? Opposition groups may begin to see opportunities, or the unhappiness and frustration of young people and others may spontaneously erupt into mass demonstrations, as in Egypt, or in Iran after frustration over the outcome of the presidential elections two years ago. Sometimes these demonstrations succeed, as in Tunisia and apparently now in Egypt, and sometimes they fail, as in Iran after those elections, and in the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations in China.


 

Will similar demonstrations spread to the rest of the Arab world in North Africa and the Middle East that without exception have non-democratic regimes? Already the Jordanian government and a few others have started to make concessions to the opposition, including giving greater representation to various disaffected groups. I do not know how many of these governments will change radically and speedily. The theory offers little guidance on the timing of major political changes, but I do believe that large changes in this region toward freer elections and greater representation will occur before very long.


 

The Internet, Facebook and other online social networks, are changing the dynamics of the political landscape in all countries, including Islamic countries. In addition, the middle classes are growing in importance throughout Middle East and North Africa. As a result, these countries will experience the same aspirations for greater freedom of expression and greater representation in the government, as is found in other parts of the world. Eventually, these aspirations will force a conversion of the political institutions of these Islamic countries into something that may not be the same as Western democracies, but will offer more contested elections, greater political and social freedoms, and probably also greater economic freedom.

21 comments:

Anonymous,  17 February 2011 at 10:05  

Sak,
Nothing much can be done in Sarawak !When the indigenous natives leaders are cooperating with that Thief Chief Minister its even worst!!!
That Thief CM is already thinking he is God and am afraid the Sarawakians will bleed for years to come.Its the people to blame for such debauchery of the ruling class.

Anonymous,  17 February 2011 at 10:40  

Sak, as a bystander, I am numbed at the indifference and silence surrounding this not-an-open-secret plundering undertaken by the most-corrupt Minister in SEA, if not Asia. Politics is filthy ain't it? Just because Sarawak delivers and prolongs the life-line of some politicians and other powerful Malaysian elites, it is conniving indeed for us to give a green light for this CM to plunder as he pleases.

Anonymous,  17 February 2011 at 11:36  

InsyaAllah, when there's critical mass to put pressure on the ruling class, there will be regime change to a more democratic governance.

Anonymous,  17 February 2011 at 16:11  

Taib's indecent wealth is all over the net. Even an idiot will know that he stole from the people of Sarawak.
But unfortunately, Malaysians are not Egyptians.
They embrace corruption as our way of life. And they are cowards to do what Egyptians did.
Even the MACC fears Taib, Najib fears Taib. He is the god of Sarawak.

Spook the Sphynx 17 February 2011 at 16:34  

"...they do not have any "natural" succession process..."

Same value absent in Sarawak.

The essential point is that Taib plays on artificial turf whilst rakyat and opposition on padang kerbau. Again that's not natural. Simply it points to total systemic failure.

How can the Chairman of SPRM in all his humility breach his duty to Malaysians and Sarawakians and in the 2010 Sibu Parliamentary By Election, obediently taking the polls results, lock stock and barrel to where Taib was instated in such regality in a private unappointed premises of Wisma Sanya to verify the outcome? Was Najib secretly there?

On the one hand, it's a Sarawak mess in Taib. On the other, in addition, the Federal system, failed because competency did not lie in public servants, it was relegated to an enslaved Federal Civil Servant, appointed in essence by the Yang Di Pertuan Agong.

To put "naturalness" in would be to promulgate an appropriate constitutional instrument and declare the forthcoming Sarawak Election to be undertaken under UN's scrutiny or any other appropriate legitimate body or arrangement.

Dato, you did not qualify "natural" because to people like Mahathir and Najib, it might be alright to be told by the Police not to carry out this law or that law, an "naturalness" that submits to self abuse, flagellation and humiliation. Or so it seems.

In that absence, it is natural to expect the rakyat to revolt! Whether they will is another matter.

An ethically self-initiated enlightened Prime Minister can do one thing - ensure all public resources to execute the Sarawak Elections in a fair and just manner. As historically it is not evident, voluntarily submit to international community oversight of the process which will affirm "naturalness".

What will Najib gain? BN win or lose, hell of a lot, considering all things in their contemporary natural propensity. And what will Malaysia gain? A helluvalot!

And what would it take to do that? Genuine real creativity and innovation!

And will it ever happen? Allahu 'alam!

Anonymous,  17 February 2011 at 21:25  

Hello Sak,

What makes you think that only Sarawak may reach its tipping point? You seem very confident that the West Malaysians will not rise up against your corrupt UMNO led government. As you have said it, the former Shah of Iran and Erich Honeker seemed to be in control and then suddenly find themselves fleeing for their lives. Of course you hope that such incident will not happen in Malaysia because your political future is at stake.

sakmongkol AK47 17 February 2011 at 21:37  

anon 21:25

don't just give this kind of statement- why don't you write a short essay suggesting it too can happen in west Malaysia. if u give comments which do not amplify the subject, its no use.
this kind of questioning a question is of no value. sorry.

Quiet Despair,  17 February 2011 at 22:51  

The clarion call world-wide is those leaders who had served 30 to 40 years must go.
But our suave, debonair silver-haired man is smiling nonchalantly.
Cool as a cucumber despite some bloggers predicting the coming state election will be his Waterloo.(Wanting is one thing, but seeing it happening is another).
He's taking his own sweet time to call the elections. Guess he wants the results to be the pinnacle of his 30 years as CM at the end of March.
And he knows he holds the trump card. His image has received a boost with a young, sexy hour-glass new wife. He's youthful again too.
She can bring in more votes for him.
Okay this will be his last hurrah.
But 'I am strong, I am invincible and I am still the IT man. (paraphrasing Helen Reddy's song)
There is no credible party to usurp him. Maybe dent him a bit, winning seats here and there.
Only the people inside his party can unseat him. And it's tough. They still worshipped him.If he says 1 =1 is 3, They will nod their heads.
Remember the crisis with his uncle and he became stronger after that.
(Hey, ini orang asah keris malam Jumaat tau.)
And how can the man resign. He has not got a clear successor.
Maybe he wants his son. But not. Adnan Satem or Effendi Norwawi?
I agree with Tun M that he must made known his successor. Fine he must see through the elections. How can you expect the new man to steer the party to victory.
So on his 30th anniversary celebrations, he may announced his stepping down.
And that will be after his party gets the mandate again. Smart man.

Quiet Despair,  17 February 2011 at 22:53  

Sorry Sak, typo

It's asap keris, not asah keris.
That gives a different connotation.

Suci Dalam Debu 17 February 2011 at 23:41  

Sir,

Badai demokrasi akan melanda persisiran Sarawak dan semenanjung PRU13 mendatang.

Tipping points will be breeched soon.

Anonymous,  18 February 2011 at 13:02  

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Spook 18 February 2011 at 13:29  

" Remember the crisis with his uncle and he became stronger after that. " - Quiet Despair

What crisis? He thought he was bored. Maybe not now, with a living doll to purr at him. When he's good and cold, maybe some guy will put to archive what those guys thought was good Mak Yong Wayang in those days.

If you're kind enough and give him some credit, it's salvage operations. His nephew Salleh Jafaruddin who unabshedly told MoCS enthusiasts he read too much philosophy, might help him uncannily. He's got too much shit strewn around, it seems Najib is somewhat enamored to him, what with one of the uncle's brood in the Razak household.

Old geezer sure left a lot of scent to pick up.

The most top 19 February 2011 at 01:51  

When God is about to confer a great responsibility on man, he will first exercises his heart with suffering, his sinews and bones with toil.

He will exposes the man body to hunger, subjects him to extreme poverty. He confounds the man undertakings with setbacks and troubles, therefore to stimulate his heart (or mind) to have patience and toughen his nature in order to supply (or to provide him with benefits despite of) his in competencies.

Meaning no pain no gain.

It's a quote from Mencius (Meng Tzu), a Chinese ancient philosopher.

dahserikngandapur 19 February 2011 at 03:14  

is there a profit to be made by revolutions?

The CM has to go, he may be powerful and have unshakable support, but when the twilight of his years come to a close we will see sarawak tip.

revolution is near, but too bad i dont see it this year.

Anonymous,  19 February 2011 at 09:06  

Dato kata, "Sana sini kita dengar kita mesti selamatkan Malaysia. Saya sangat bersetuju dengan gesaan dan teriakan perang ini. Saya pun mahu selamatkan Malaysia dengan meletakkan UMNO itu pada asas yang betul. Antara cara nya ialah meletakkan bakat pimpinan yang kredibel".
Kalau nak selamatkan Malaysia, rakyat mesti selamatkan diri daripada UMNO. Dato,boleh tak Dato berikan komen atas penyelewengan yang berlaku dalam Kerajaan dan wang rakyat. Contoh projek yang boleh Dato komen antara lain, BAKUN DAM,skandal Port Klang, Atap sekolah, bangunan Kerajaan, Stadium, jalan raya runtuh.Dato boleh tak memberitahu kami pembaca betapa besar kerugian dialami rakyat setiap kali berlaku skandal melibatkan projek Kerajaan yang tidak menjadi, kos terlalu tertinggi dsbnya. Maka saya akan sokong UMNO/BN.

looes74 19 February 2011 at 13:15  

Sak,
It's always the dream of UMNO of getting into Sarawak. In fact, PBB is using this as a scarecrow in scaring Sarawakians into voting Taib over & over again
Of course, I expect this time something good would happen

gunasekar 20 February 2011 at 06:36  

orang msia kebanyakan nya pondan....

tak mampu bawa perubahan k[d sesuatu yg lebih baik....

tgk la org indonesia, filipina, tunisia, mesir... malaysia plk bacul...tgk akedemi fantasia dan siti nurhaliza cukup laaa... kaki hiburan....kononnya mahu keamanan,,, orang curi duit dalam poket u all x kesah laaa....buat bodoh jer...

xde semangat reformasi lansung ...piraaahhhhh....

gunasekar 20 February 2011 at 06:37  

taib mahmud syok menggomol wanita arabie.... da tua nyanyuk pun mahu merasa cucu jugak....hmmm

gunasekar 20 February 2011 at 06:40  

umno kenapa nk masuk sarawak???
umno kenapa berada di sabah???

orang2 sabah tu orang melayu ker??
orang2 sarawak tu orang melayu ker???
berbillion 2 duit minyak dicuri orang Semenanjung.... bagi 5% buat aper...

dahserikngansongsang 22 February 2011 at 17:48  

the business of revolution...son of a friggin nut! is it all related to oil????

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/putrajaya-says-tough-keeping-pump-price-as-crude-prices-spike/

stability and speculation pfffft!

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