The fate of liberal democracy in troubled times

COMMENT | To say that Malaysians are frustrated with endless political shenanigans is, quite frankly, an understatement.

To have voted only once and yet to have four different prime ministers in four years is exhausting at the best of times. The fact that this happened primarily during a very deadly pandemic – and the attendant social and economic crises – is simply tragic.

There is no doubt that Malaysians have suffered more from Covid-19 because of our politics, whether it was the initial distractions of the Sheraton Move, the fragility of the majority of government resulting in sub-optimal appointments to important positions. , the double standards perceived in terms of application. rules of order of movement control, or the political crisis in Sabah which necessitated a state election.

And incredibly enough, we envision the likelihood of another state election in Malacca soon. If all this is not enough, we can also bring up the fact that we had a period of state of emergency in which the pandemic seemed to be getting worse.

We are the only country, to my knowledge, to have had a suspension of our liberal democracy as a way to better manage the pandemic.

When I first heard the announcement, I felt uncomfortable: I didn’t expect anything to change per se, but the idea that we were ruled by decree and that parliamentary control over the executive had disappeared bothered me.

I was immensely relieved when the state of emergency ended; as Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” I agree with this point of view.

However, this is a view that has lost popularity in recent times. The 2017 Pew Survey of 38 countries found that 52% of those polled were unhappy with the way democracy worked in their countries, with a substantial number willing to consider non-democratic alternatives even …


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