MANILA, JUNE 12, 2012 (TRIBUNE) 'RP-style democracy breeds mediocre leaders — Mahathir'

Too much democracy has as trade off slow progress and a mediocre leadership.

This was how former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad described the pitfalls of the style of democracy being practiced in the Philippines in a speech delivered yesterday at the University of Santo Tomas (UST).

Mahathir led Malaysia for 22 years from 1981 to 2003 to turn his country into one of the Asian tigers under a leadership which some describe as a benign dictatorship.

For the Philippine-style democracy to work, the government must have a leader who “in particular must be incorruptible,” Mahathir said in his keynote lecture at a special convocation at the UST yesterday.

“His being (incorruptible) will lessen the level of corruption among those under him. There will still be corruption but the degree would be less…, he added.

“In every country there are great people who should lead, but seeing the filth in politics and the fears of those who come into power and who are unwilling to take risks and so very often the leaders are mediocre people at best,” Mahathir said.

“A leader is as good as the ideas that he has. To bring prosperity to the country, he must know what policies to adopt and what strategies to employ,” he added.

Evidently referring to the electoral process in the country and in neighboring Thailand, Mahathir said “no sooner is a government elected when the losers would hold demonstrations and general strikes, accusing the government of malpractices.”

“The government has to deal with these disruptions and neglect the work of governing and development that it is expected to carry out. The disruption could be so serious as to force the government to resign,” he said.

“Really the countries of Southeast Asia have great potential for growth, prosperity and empowerment. All we need are people and leaders who love their country and people more than they love themselves,” he said.

Mahathir indicated that democracy only works when the people understand its limitations. He said democracy would not bring the goodness that it promised when people think only of the freedoms of democracy and know nothing of the implied responsibilities.

“Instead, it will result only in instability, and instability will not permit development to take place and the people to enjoy the benefits of freedom and the rights that democracy promises,” he said.

Mahathir was conferred with an honorary professorship by UST, which is bestowed on distinguished foreign individuals who have achieved exceptional distinction in their respective fields of expertise.

“No doubt democracy is being practised by this country. But is it really what democracy is all about?

Is democracy the end or the means? If we think that democracy is the end, then well and good. But why did we change from autocracy to democracy? Wasn’t it because autocracy had failed to deliver the good life that we wanted? We believed that since it is the people who disapproved of autocracy, then if the people were to rule the country, then surely they would rule themselves well,” Mahathir said.

He said the rule of the majority does not always produce the best results for a nation. “We cannot assume majority of the people must be intelligent. In many instances, majority is not intelligent and the minority refuses to be involved because they think politics is dirty. If you don’t manage democracy well it is not going to pay dividends,“ he said.

“We are living in a tumultuous world, in a world of political turmoil, in a world of economic turmoil, in a world of social turmoil. We are seeing the collapse of moral values and of beliefs. All the things that we used to value are being questioned, scrutinized and in many cases rejected, to be replaced by what is called freedom, freedom which is enjoyed by some at the expense of others, often at the expense of the community as a whole,” he added.

Mahathir also had something to say about technological advances being abused to undermine governments.

“We are seeing advances in technology, advances which bring great benefits but which are also open to abuses, negating much of the benefits. Privacy is being invaded. Secrets, including sensitive military secrets are being leaked in the name of freedom of information. The whistle-blowers are hailed as heroes. Nothing is sacred any more,” he said.

Mahathir said that while democracy was the best system of governance ever devised by man, it only works when people understand its limitations.

Noting that Malaysia was not a liberal democracy, he said democracy was viewed principally as providing an “easy way” to change governments.

“No revolution, no civil wars, no Arab spring. Just vote and the government will be brought down or re-elected according to the wishes of the people,” Mahathir said.

He said in Malaysia’s election process, candidates from opposition parties could win and they had indeed captured a number of state governments.

On leadership, Dr Mahathir said it must not be corrupt and need vision about the development of the country.

“A leader is as good as the ideas that he has. To bring prosperity to the country, he must know what policies to adopt and what strategies to employ,” he said.

Turning to the economy, Dr Mahathir, who has been courted by Yemen to be its special economic advisor, said he believed that in this troubled economic climate, Asean should co-operate more productively and make use of its market of half a billion people.

The Malaysian Foreign Ministry said Dr Mahathir and his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, were received on arrival in Manila yesterday by the Malaysian envoy to the Philippines, Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad, and other embassy officials.

Dr Mahathir attended a gathering with the Malaysian community as well as delivered a keynote speech on “Nation Building and Economic Development” at a dinner organised by the Asia Society at a leading hotel there.


AQUINO: Corona’s ouster proof democracy alive in PH By Fatima Reyes 9:35 am | Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III said Renato Corona’s ouster as Chief Justice was a testament that democracy was alive in the country.

“Pinatingkad nito ang diwa ng ating demokrasya,” Aquino said in his Independence Day speech in Malolos, Bulacan aired over Radyo Inquirer 990AM on Tuesday.

Aquino said Corona’s removal from office symbolized the administration’s drive not to allow the Constitution be used by people who wanted it for greed and power.

“Hindi na hahayaang gamitin ang Saligang Batas para manlamang sa kapwa at magpakasasa sa kapangyarihan,” the President said.

This year’s observance of Independence Day centered in the province, where Aquino led flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies at the Barasoain Church.

The President laid the wreath in front of the monument of first Philippine President General Emilio Aguinaldo, the site of the establishment of the first Philippine republic and the venue of the drafting of the first constitution.

In his speech, Aquino indicated the importance of a constitution to a country and how the constitution has been his guide since he was still a congressman from Tarlac.

He expressed sadness that there are still people that look for ways go around the Constitution and once again, found an occasion to mention the recent impeachment and removal of Corona.

It’s but proper, Aquino said that all Filipinos across the country should fully experience the celebration of Independence Day.

Aquino said next year’s June 12 rites would be at the Pinaglabanan Shrine in San Juan, and sites in the Visayas and Mindanao in years after.

Simultaneous flag raising and wreath laying rites were also conducted at the Rizal Park in Manila, Andres Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan, and at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite. With reports from Norman Bordadora, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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