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Sakmongkol ak 47

Monday 22 June 2009

The Dagger to our Freedom

I watched you tube on the speech given by President Kennedy at his inaugural speech. These words have become very famous. He said something to this effect: ask not what your government can do you, ask what you can do for your government.

As Milton Friedman pointed out in his popular book, Capitalism and Freedom, neither part of the statement expresses the ideals of a freeman. The first part expresses the idea that the government is all powerful, overpowering, the people or the rakyat are its charges. The second part expresses the idea that the people or rakyat exists to obey and deify the government. These run counter to the personal charter of the freeman- he works to be free from the arbitrary control of other people. He asks what he can do through the government to further his and fellow human being's interest.

Milton Friedman said these prescient words: - free man regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a grantor of favours and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshipped and served. The free man will ask neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country. He will ask rather "What can I and my compatriots do through government" to help us discharge our individual responsibilities, to achieve our several goals and purposes, and above all, to protect our freedom?

And he will accompany this question with another: How can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect?

Freedom is a rare and delicate plant. Our minds tell us, and history confirms that the great threat to freedom is the concentration of power. Government is necessary to preserve our freedom, it is an instrument through which we can exercise our freedom; yet by concentrating power in political hands, it is also a threat to freedom. Even though the men who wield this power initially be of good will and even though they be not corrupted by the power they exercise, the power will both attract and form men of a different stamp.

We of course, have been practising what Kennedy said for ages. It is known to us- as government knows best philosophy. DS Najib has declared he wants to get rid of this attitude. So far he has done things slowly and in fact, things are being worked out to fortify dominance.

There is a practical business solution to counter stodginess and unwieldiness. The step to take is not to consolidate by expanding in size. The step to take is not to multiply our idiocy and lunacy. The step to take is called downsizing. We get rid of deadwoods, we become more nimble and more responsive. Not by adding more of the same thing. Not by concentring more power in our hands.

The recent idea of unity talks between UMNO and some elements in PAS must be seen as they are:

An attempt by the multi millionaire UMNO leaders to delay the inevitable. The inevitable is UMNO is going into comatose precisely because it refuses to undertake radical changes from within. The multi millionaire and billionaire leadership wants to retain power, in the famous words of Malcolm X, by any means necessary. Presently the necessary means is feeding on the one thing closest to the Malays, their existence or threats to the existence.

Those elements who agree to this unity talks are also birds of a feather- protecting and hoping to secure the same short term interests. PAS is supported because they offer a credible choice for people.

In the end, we must offer free men only one thing- freedom of choice.

The unity talk between PAS and UMNO stands in the way of giving freedom of choice to us the people. The rejection of a government which knows best must be founded on a belief that any concentration of power is a threat to our freedom.


PKMPL 22 June 2009 at 11:57  



Malaysian Heart 22 June 2009 at 15:06  

Dear Dato',

While I agree with the main conclusion of your argument, I beg to differ on some of its premises.

Firstly, JFK said: "ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." (Video here)

We must never conflate and confuse our Country with our government. Doing so allows those to whom we delegate our collective power to claim, "L'etat c'est moi". This sort of thinking leads to corruption, cronyism & nepotism; it disempowers us and hampers our progress as a nation.

Milton Friedman's words are very true and should be taught in every Malaysian school; my gratitude to you for quoting them here. Any government is only a means to an end, they were never meant to lord over the Rakyat. Whenever a government begins to forget its rightful role, it should be swiftly reprimanded or replaced.

But our Country is much, much more than our government. Being a free person in our country is only sustainable if we respect, uphold and protect the sovereignty, democracy, freedoms, rights, unity and integrity of Malaysia and our fellow citizens. Granted, we could do this out of enlightened self interest or a sense of duty. However, I believe it is noblest, most effective & gratifying when we do it out of love. Yes, LOVE, the emotional involvement which I believe we sadly lack.

Every atom of our blood, muscle & bones, belongs to and was once the soil, water or air of Malaysia, and will return to Her some day. Those same atoms may well become part of other Malaysians; all of us are but borrowers, in debt to Ibu Pertiwi for our very substance. Is it not fair for Malaysia to expect a modest return on Her investment in us? Is it not becoming that we strive to help these atoms see a better Malaysia when they come alive again?

So, while we keep a close eye on our government with a rotan in our hand, and never let them (or anybody else) hijack our Country's name for their own purposes, let us always ask ourselves, as long as we are blessed to breathe Malaysian air, "What can I do for my country today?"

Pak Zawi 22 June 2009 at 15:32  

Dato' Sak,
The PAS President doesn't even have a state to govern whereas Nasha is a Parliamentarian by courtesy of PAS Kelantan. Will PAS Kelantan be as accomodating of such transplant in the future GE? I don't mind the likes of YB Salahuddin Ayob but another Nasha?

ajoyly 23 June 2009 at 09:35  

At one time, we had an independent legislature, judiciary and executive. It is no longer free due to political tampering. And now the executive is playing a dominant role in our lives - we know what is best for Malaysians.

This atitude of not listening to the majority views and taking for granted that everything done would please the people is wrong. It is a subtle and an indirect form of saying that Malaysians are incapable of thinking, what is good for themselves?

This could be rectified easily enough, if the legislature, judiciary and executive can once more funtion independently without fear or favour in serving Malaysians. Instead of expecting people to be beholden to them.

Suci Dalam Debu 23 June 2009 at 15:13  

Dear Dato,

I pray that you would be blessed with long life and will continue writing for a long-long time.

walla 23 June 2009 at 17:35  

A: 'I say, this blogger is very well-read, don't you agree, B?'

B: 'Indeed, to be able to friedmanize Kennedy's most famous statement in order to throw new light on our local situation is really something.'

A: 'The basic message is that the government is a tool to serve the rakyat and not a local power lord to be deified by the rakyat. The master-slave syndrome has been overturned.'

B: 'But old habits die hard, A. One thing people should do is to cut the crap. I hope we no longer have meetings where just the salutations take five minutes to say.'

A: 'That will only go away the same day they ban those congratulatory ads in the papers, B. It's a ridiculous waste of funds, whether public or private.'

B: 'Together with the welcoming party and faithful followers to all those functions. It's like a syndicate. Some will say mafioso.'

A: 'Some of the rakyat may actually like it. You know, the festival atmosphere, the sense of importance, the placing of things in their right protocol in the natural order of life.'

B: 'But what do you mean by right protocol and natural order of life, A? All are equal before Him, no? Shouldn't political positions also be thankless tasks to be done because no one else wants it in exchange for a personal sense of achievement for unidentifiable recipients?'

A: 'B, by now all have already concluded this country runs on hot air. If it is covered in a plastic skin, the whole country will lift off to outer space. We are just a bunch of third-world decepticons transforming one form to another and we will continue to do so as long as the autobots are kept at bay from pointing out the need for more substance. Form over substance. The last frontier. That's why we are so late in everything and yet can still say we are coasting along fine.'

B: 'But at least we don't ban chewing gum, A.'

A: 'But we have been banning candles lately, B, haven't we?'

B: 'But we are not an island, A, like St Helena on which Napoleon was incarcerated so why the napoleonic posturing sprouting here and there?'

A: 'It's because people think in one dimension only, B. They see a problem, they fashion their only solution. They see another problem, they fashion another solution. The world's more complex these days, B. You can't do one thing and forget the other factors. It's all about the skill of managing across mutually opposing objectives.'

B: 'I thought we have had a lot of experience with that, A. Looks like we have only been kidding ourselves. We want to move forward and be decisive and yet are mired down by too many factors.'

walla 23 June 2009 at 17:35  

A: 'It's about educating up the weak-minded, B. That has to be done. It hasn't.

It's like the cycle of economic development. First it's agriculture. You can't move the land. Then it's manufacturing. You can't move the factory. Now it's services. With services, you can be anywhere, move anything, even do anything. The cycle here is composite along two axes. The x-axis in increasing choices. The y-axis in increasing freedom. Carried to its logical conclusion, people will want more choices and more freedom to select their choices.'

B: 'But the graph must still be tempered by something else, A. Say, the angle of inclination? Like, say, values and principles?'

A: 'I agree that's important. Otherwise those who get power will only want to hold onto it and they will try to justify that without power they cannot deliver but forget that they deliver only at the pleasure of the people.'

B: 'Which seems to say that the best governments try their best to diminish themselves in the interest of the people they serve, not try to make themselves indispensable to lord over the people.'

A: 'Yes, it's part of life's equation. To diminish what is important even when all else tempts to self-exaltation to increase one's existence.'

B: 'Stoicism?'

A: 'Perhaps.'

B: 'Is that why PAS has become more attractive to the people?'

A: 'Could be. But there's no reason Umno can't up them in their game. That is if its leaders want to.'

B: 'Only if its leaders don't say "ta'kan MB have to sit in economy class else how will the staff feel" '

A: 'Yeah, that takes the cake; like the other complaint about loss in KLIA of handbags made by LV and Chanel. For a two-year old.'

B: 'A, that's not entirely fair. Different strokes for different folks. To each his own.'

A: 'So long as it is all honestly earned, no?'

B: 'So long as one tries to remember others less fortunate, A.'

A: 'There will always be others more, and less, fortunate, B. It's the way of the world. But what is important are governments who realize this, and do their utter best to open opportunities for all without penalizing those who have made it on their own.'

B: 'I had a dream last night, A.'

A: 'By any chance Miss Kedah?'

B: 'Harrummph. Nothing so. I dreamt i won a hamper. And there was this man standing by and looking forlorn. So i askd him, 'berapa anak?' and he replied something, and so i gave him the hamper instead and asked him to go back to surprise his family because that's what He actually wanted to happen.'

A: 'Are you sure Miss Kedah didn't present you that hamper?'

B: 'You're incorrigible, A.'

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