Reform, not deform

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All great reforms require one to dare a lot to win a little.

— William L. O’Neill, American historian

It is widely held that the Donald Trump presidency became necessary because the voters were sick and tired of the tried and tested politics that called the shots for hundreds of years. Ultimately, the Democrats did their bit to deform his reforms, and out he went, at least temporarily.

“Mere political reform will not cure the manifold evils which now afflict society. There requires a social reform, a domestic reform, an individual reform,” cautioned Samuel Smiles, the Scottish journalist, obviously oblivious that human nature cannot be reformed as it is genetically deformed.

Nick Clegg, former deputy prime minister of the UK, bemoaned that both the Labour and Conservative parties in British politics “have constantly and repeatedly failed to honour promises they have made about reforming, cleaning, modernising our clapped-out system.” The 21st century Westminster monster.

“The real reform we need is decisive politics when we face issues that need decisive action and implementation,” observed Yoshihiko Noda, a former prime minister of Japan, obviously in an effort to state the obvious which thrust him out of politics. Sounds familiar?

The Indian constitutional lawyer B R Ambedkar, sized it up brilliantly: “political tyranny is nothing compared to social tyranny, and a reformer who defies society is a more courageous man than a politician who defies government.”

Hu Jintao, former President of China, underscored China’s road of reform which has moved steadfastly to promote political restructuring and vigorously build democratic politics under socialism. A real positive and people-centric movement by China has witnessed a tremendous amount of reform although the West has a different opinion.Pakistan’s Im

ran Khan took a philosophical view when he declared that “if you had political reform in the Islamic world, the spiritual reform would follow.” It appears it can happen both ways. After all, the East believes in “thou art, therefore I am,” while the West insists that “I am, therefore thou art.”

Pope Francis chimed in too, curiously, that “there is need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone. This would need a courageous change of attitude on the part of political leaders.” He ought to know as the Vatican Bank operates as a canonical juridical foundation.

Tsakhiagiin Elbegdor, former President of Mongolia, weighed in too: “many still believe that conducting political and economic reforms at the same time is not an Asian way. But this is a fairy-tale since we broke that old stereotype by reforming our political, economic and social systems concurrently since 1990.”

Nearer home, Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew saw the trees for the forest when he opined that “political reform need not go hand in hand with economic liberalisation regardless of diverse opinions, full of competing ideas in the market place, full of sound and fury, as a libertarian, hoping you would succeed.”

Malaysia has come a full circle with eight elected and two appointed prime ministers. Now that the 18-year-olds are eligible to vote, there is no doubt that their expectations and aspirations will ring loud bells heralding radical reforms for a much-splintered system of governance.

“The old leaders must become works of art, and yield to give way to the young who are wonders of Nature,” quipped by former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. Malaysian leaders who are beyond their prime must not yearn for the prime minister’s post like their lives depend on it.

We have younger MPs evidencing great promise but they happen to be on the other side of the aisle. The Opposition has always been part of the government as a necessary check and balance mechanism although they are not members of the Cabinet. This should usher in a new wave of reforms with the latest compromises memorialised in the MOU.

Ethnocentric policies deform and destroy. This ugly stain and stigma has gone unabated far too long because of a give-and-take accommodation like a marriage which it is not.

This is 2021. Great strides, strengths and successes are visible as economic miracles and social upheavals are on the increase globally. Malaysia got to get into step with the march of progress, power, peace, partnership and prosperity instead of being bogged down by ethnocentric persuasions.

Our stinking thinking and values need radical reform. We should never allow anything to deform it knowing that fascism casts an ominous giant shadow. The awakened must remain vigilant.

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

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