KUCHING: A failed state is defined as a state whose political or economic system has become so weak that the government is no longer in control.
However, it can be argued the term is subjective in its nature given that there is no single or agreed upon definition.
With this in mind, there are common characteristics and contributing factors that could lead to a state being labelled as failed.
A failed state usually has lost the capability to provide the basic functions of government such as low enforcement and justice, education, military defence, and a stable economy.
This would mean that a failed state experiences ongoing civil violence, rampant corruption, insurgency, high rates of crime, judicial incompetence as well as military interference in politics.
Social and political scientists have created rankings such as the Fragile State Index by making quantitative measurements of state failure in which the indicators encompass social, political, economic and cohesion.
Social indicators comprise of demographic pressures, refugees or internally displaced persons and external intervention while political indicators include state legitimacy, basic public services as well as human rights and the rule of law.
Economic indicators look at economic decline, uneven economic as well as human flight and brain drain (out migration of knowledgeable and skilled professionals) while cohesion indicators involve security apparatus, factionalised elites, and group grievance.
According to the Fragile States Index 2021, Yemen continues to be ranked as the most fragile state followed by Somalia, Syria, and South Sudan.
Despite a recent article ran by an international news portal describing that Malaysia had gone down the path of failed statehood, the country ranks 123 with a score of 56.9 compared to its 57.56 score in 2020, 60.50 score in 2019, 63.59 score in 2018 and 65.40 score in 2017.
The countries listed in the Fragile State Index 2021 are as follows:
3. South Sudan
5. Dr Congo
6. Central African Republic
19. Guinea Bissau
26. North Korea
27. Republic Of The Congo
29. Ivory Coast
39. Sierra Leone
41. Timor Leste
46. Sri Lanka
48. Burkina Faso
50. Papua New Guinea