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It’s the system that turns good leaders bad

 | November 28, 2012

Malaysians think that by changing the present set of bad people with good ones everything will be all right, but nothing is farther from the truth.

COMMENT

People do not want to believe that if you have an intrinsically bad system, you are good at the beginning, but you are eventually going to degenerate.

But people don’t want to accept this.

Let’s assume Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is a good person (he probably is) but the system which sustains him is bad. It will eventually cause him to turn bad.

So it isn’t enough to transform society by changing the people leading it, but the system that structures our society must be changed too.

That is our (Pakatan Rakyat’s ) agenda now. Not just changing of guards, but changing the system that structures our society.

Just as a free market requires a libertarian system or liberal democracy, so do good people at the top who can stay good but only if we have a good system of government.

The leader who respects the opinions of the people he leads stays a good leader but only if the system sustains him so.

But Najib can’t stay a good leader because Umno structures the world around us in a bad way.

Najib’s New Economic Model (NEM) in reality is just an extension of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s way of renouncing the NEP and choosing to jump-start Malay economics by picking and choosing winners.

He, at that point, chose mostly devils he knew and enriched them.

Najib is now continuing to do the same by his market-driven affirmative action that forms his NEM.

Dangerous thinking

Author Fredrik Hayek makes an interesting point in his book, “The Road to Serfdom”. He explains why the worst get to the top.

If we interpret his observation against modern terms, it is that people are willing to suspend reality in exchange for a sanitised world.

Hayek opines that it is dangerous to think that “good men can overcome a bad system”. It is simply wrong thinking.

Malaysia unfortunately appears to be in that situation.

We adjust ourselves and accommodate totalitarian tendencies believing that such a system or political arrangement is not at fault.

We think that by changing the present set of bad people with good and decent people, everything is all right.

But nothing is farther from the truth.

The agenda the opposition seeks is not only changing the bad people on top, but reforming the structure of this country.

If we don’t put the correct structure in place, even when good men lead, they will soon be overwhelmed by the system.

The writer is a former Umno state assemblyman but has since joined DAP. He is a FMT columnist.


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