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Inextricable relationship between ideology and good governance

November 21, 2017

Writer says any political system that ensures good governance is an important consideration.



By P Ramasamy

My piece “There is no system of governance without ideology” (FMT, Nov 20) elicited a few comments in the letters to editor column.

TK Chua was one of those who commented, saying that while it was true that no system of government was free of ideology, surely there should not be the blind pursuit of ideological concerns without giving importance to good governance, pragmatism, a corruption-free government, sound principles and ethics.

I totally agree with Chua on the need for these for any system of government, whether socialist or capitalist.

In fact, I would agree that these be the minimal prerequisites for any political system to take off.

I have always enjoyed the articles written by Chua.

Among the many contributors to FMT, I find his analysis sharp and to the point. He is not the type who argues in circles.

Actually, I have no fundamental disagreement with Chua.

It is more a question of nuances and emphasis. In fact, a full-fledged discourse on ideologies and their relationship to good governance can be a lengthy one.

Yes, I am all for a good political system whatever it is called but the ideological underpinnings cannot be dismissed.

I am for good governance, pragmatism, sound ethics and principles, a corruption-free government where the divide between the rich and the poor are eventually bridged in economic, political and social terms.

There is no point of having a “great” socialist government when some fundamental questions of good governance are not addressed.

Similarly, what is the point of having a “good” capitalist system devoid of principles of good governance?

There is no point in blindly focusing on ideology of a political system without measuring its concrete performance in terms of good governance.

The test is not ideology but whether such an ideology can bring about maximum happiness or contentment.

It is not that we should forsake ideology. Even if we forsake ideology, no human being is free of ideology.

Whether we are politicians or decision makers, our thoughts and decisions are derived from the numerous influences that have impacted our lives and how we see the world.

Singapore is a good example of a country that followed the dictates of neoliberal ideology to the tilt, but it nonetheless did not side step the issue of good governance.

This is Chua’s central point. I concur.

This would perhaps explain why the system in Singapore continues to be relevant but we cannot ignore that clouds of dissent are also gathering.

Not because there is no good governance, perhaps there is too much of “guiding” that has affected the freedom of Singapore’s younger generation.

It would be wrong to assume we are caught in a straightjacket of having to contend with a few ideological beliefs.

It must be realised even within a certain ideology that there are so many variants that sometimes these variants appear to be diametrical opposites to each other.

In Malaysia, the differences between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) are to be sought in the realm of good governance.

It is not so much the ideological debate that rages on between the adherents of both the coalitions, but rather the question of bringing about political and social change.

In this respect, since BN has failed, PH wants to step up to address the issue by taking on the former in the general election.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) also believes in socialism but not the revolutionary version. Instead, it is one that thinks that the capitalism system can be reformed through parliamentary means.

How a political system ensures good governance is an important consideration in the present debate.

Although I am agreeable that the issue of good governance cannot be sidestepped, I still believe that there is an inextricable relationship between it and ideology.

In fact, I would argue that it is the profound belief in a set of ideas (constitutes ideology) that provides the basis for good governance.

Ideology and good governance are inextricably related to one another.

Ramasamy Palanisamy is Penang deputy chief minister II.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

There is no system of governance without ideology

Governance matters, not ideologies


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