What Can We Really Learn from Australian Democracy? (2)

To continue from the previous post

And what about Malaysia? How do we compare?

During all election campaigns (the ones that I know of), the BN (Barisan Nasional) government in more than one way portrayed itself as experienced, successful and capable vis a vis the often fractitious opposition. Moreover the opposition is always portrayed as an unlikely coalition of Chinese chauvinists, Islamic fundamentalists and hopeless Anwar Ibrahim supporters, whose experience in governing a nation (as a group) is almost nil.

The use of experience and track record as electoral tactics are not unique in Malaysia. It is also done in Australia. In Australia, John Howard tried to use a similar tactic. He failed! John Howard lost real badly. Before that Paul Keating also used a similar tactic. And Keating lost his government to John Howard in 1996.

Such a tactic only works consistently in Malaysia. In Malaysia the situation is so bad for the opposition because it (collectively speaking) has never hold a federal government before. Moreover, for the only party that does hold power at the state levels – PAS, its track record is at best ambivalent. [This remark is made by using economic development as a benchmark. Of course there is the PBS in Sabah, which held power after a dramatic state election victory in the 80s, but now that party is almost gone]. Since the Malaysian opposition has never hold public office at federal level, the claim that the opposition cannot govern is easily accepted as matter of faith.

And to top all that, the Dewan Negara (Upper House) in Malaysia is absolutely impotent. I am sorry to use the word ‘impotent’. But then that word aptly describes the reality of a Upper House which is basically filled by unelected members.

Obviously, there is a lot to more compare between Australia and Malaysia. But today I won’t continue to write about how similar or how different Australian Democracy compared to the Malaysian Democracy. Instead, I will continue writing on one aspect on the applicability Australian Democracy to the Malaysian context. This is done in these two posts:

Are Malaysians generally interested in Democracy?
One Failure of the Malaysian Education System


About this entry