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Gradual approach to democratic development

  • Efforts in democratic pursuits must be within the confines of the realistic conditions of a country. It must be carried out gradually and not rashly.

Sin Chew Daily

In its most recent Democracy Index 2017, London-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) put northern European countries Norway, Iceland and Sweden as the three most democratic countries in the world, while North Korea and Syria took the bottom places. Malaysia was ranked 59th in the list, an improvement from 65th in the previous year.

EIU ranked 167 countries and territories worldwide based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government; political participation and political culture. Malaysia scored 6.54 out of a maximum of 10, considered a "flawed democracy".

While Malaysia is not a star performer in democracy, its performance is not that bad after all compared to our neighbor Singapore (at 69th). Of course, we pale compared to South Korea (20th) and Japan (23rd). Apparently there is still room for improvement.

To be fair, while such reports can never truly reflect the realistic situation of a country, they nevertheless serve as an important reference to review and scrutinize our own system and from there promote a democratic process that fits the country's unique conditions best.

Among the five categories, we performed quite well in functioning of government (7.86 points) and electoral process and pluralism (6.92), and were relatively weak in political participation (6.11) and civil liberties (5.59), meaning we need to work harder on the last two parameters to promote public participation in politics while expanding civil liberties.

Democratic values have been held in high regards for years. In spite of a global crisis of democratic regression in more recent years, fundamentally democracy remains the mainstay of global politics today and there is no let-up in the effort to pursue democracy.

As a country practicing democratic politics, Malaysia should further promote democratization and entrench the values of democracy instead of stopping at where we are now.

It should be noted that we must never be blindly aggressive in our pursuit of greater democracy, as this will only jeopardize social stability and the well-being of our people.

Uncontrolled democracy may not be the most effective solution for this country, especially at a time we are facing unprecedented terror threats.

Simply put, efforts in democratic pursuits must be within the confines of the realistic conditions of a country. It must be carried out gradually and not rashly.

 

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