Te whetu

Politics is more dangerous than war, for in war you are only killed once.

– Winston Churchill, wartime British prime minister

The theory of utilitarianism first conceptualised, established and politicised by Jeremy Bentham promotes a sovereign’s actions that maximise happiness and well-being for the affected individuals with benefits, obligations, duties, advantages, rights, positions, privileges and claims.

Theoretically, it appears and sounds appealing, promising, acceptable and desirable. But there are undercurrents that the voting public does not perceive or realise in that they have unwittingly engaged in elective dictatorship no matter what system of government is selected and elected into office.

When the electorate is required to vote it must be aware that it is the candidates who choose the form and system of government whether it is an absolute monarchy (Brunei), constitutional monarchy (Thailand, Malaysia, United Kingdom, etc.) while practising parliamentary democracy. There is republicanism (America) or communism (with a focus on capitalism as in China) depending on the electorate and the candidates who promote the choice of system of government.

The various forms and systems of governments in the world today is like a giant political pendulum swinging back and forth between the requirement of being guardians of freedom or disintegrating into engines of tyranny representing not the will of the people who have no choice in the matter simply because they, and their children, have never heard of, studied, or were ever taught about the various forms and systems of government in their school curriculums.

The talk of freedom under law by the rule of law extracted through the rule by law is almost laughable in that freedom, although not absolute, should not be subject to restrictions, strictures or limitations of man-made law just because some philosopher king or warrior said so.

Ancient civilisations enjoyed absolute freedom without the need for a minority ruling over them as governors functioning and operating a government. The conscience of mankind should be rekindled, rejuvenated, replenished, renewed, evoked, provoked, and invoked to consider the various eclectic combinations of systems of government that could provide lasting, perhaps not permanent, solutions and remedies to the type of acceptable control and regulatory consent offered willingly through the ballot to the government.

There was a time in Malaya when the late great Onn Jafaar promulgated the concept of the Malayan National Party which would have brought Malays, Indians, Chinese, Eurasians, and all other Malayan communities into one large umbrella of sovereignty, and perhaps Article 153 Federal Constitution (FC) could have been written thus: “the legitimate rights, privileges, positions, duties, obligations and claims of all Malayan communities shall be the primary concern and responsibility of the elected government as exercised by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as the Head of the Federation of the existing eleven States.”

Our colonial tuans were remiss in not making known the choices and combinations of various forms and systems of government and governance that could have become a unifying tapestry of and for citizenry. For example, parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy could have been perfected with a geniocracy (the rule by intelligent persons of wide learning, training and experience) and an attendant meritocracy.

We already had an aristocracy (rule and reign by nobility) after the Sultanate of Malacca was established in the 15th century. The vestiges and traces of Portuguese, Dutch and English influence offered the perfect opportunity and formula for a noocracy (rule by the wise) coupled with a plutocracy (rule by the wealthy) tampered with a stratocracy (rule by military) guaranteed by a nomocracy (rule by rational laws, and civil rights with the ultimate and final authority resting in the law) overseen by a timocracy (rule by the honourable people in our community).

As time marched on, Malaya and Malaysia became plagued by a netocracy (rule by the wit and whim of those socially connected) fuelled by a nepotocracy (rule by those with relatives in political positions of power) that inevitably produced an adhocracy (rule by disorganised principles and government institutions) that could have provoked a ochlocracy (rule by a mob or a crowd of vigilantes as witnessed in 1789 with the French Revolution) because of the transient kakistocracy (rule by incompetents) impelled and encouraged a kleptocracy (rule by thieves in power) that witnessed its (temporary) demise with a regime change on May 9, 2018.

There is some concern today by politicians, plotters, puppeteers, philosophers, pundits and prophets of profit that the world may soon witness a cyberocracy when computers decide what’s best for government and governance based on a code made viable, efficient, and proficient by a highly developed system. 

Imagine a cyberocratic court judgment issued within minutes minus defects and errors, or judges’ preferences for subjective and objective analysis, after you feed a super-computer with facts, statutes, precedents, principles, maxims and doctrines of law.

Steve Jobs predicted that “computers themselves, and software yet to be developed, will revolutionise the way we learn.”

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.