Friday, February 18, 2011

Riding the J: Evaluating Malaysia

This post will be the follow up on the analysis of why Malaysia may not follow the path of Street Democracy 

My daily readings points me to another framework that may be applicable for us to view the situation.

In 2006 Political Scientist Ian Bremmer came out with the J Curve analysis

Bremmer's J Curve describes the relationship between a country's openness and its stability; focusing on the notion that while many countries are stable because they are open (the United States, France, Japan), others are stable because they are closed (North Korea, Cuba, Iraq under Saddam Hussein). According to Bremmer, a government's motivations differ dramatically depending on where they fall on the J curve

The x-axis of the political J-Curve graph measures the 'openness' (of freedom) of the State in question and the y-axis measures the stability of that same state. It suggests that those states that are 'closed'/undemocratic/unfree (such as the Communist dictatorships of China and Cuba) are very stable; however, as one progresses right, along the x-axis, it is evident that stability (for relatively short period of time in the lengthy life of nations) decreases, creating a dip in the graph, until beginning to pick up again as the 'openness' of a state increases; at the other end of the graph to closed states are the open states of the West, such as the United States of America or the United Kingdom. Thus, a J-shaped curve is formed.

States can travel both forward (right) and backwards (left) along this J-curve, and so stability and openness are never secure. The J is steeper on the left hand side, as it is easier for a leader in a failed state to create stability by closing the country than to build a civil society and establish accountable institutions; the curve is higher on the far right than left because states that prevail in opening their societies (Eastern Europe, for example) ultimately become more stable than authoritarian regimes.

Bremmer's entire curve can shift up or down depending on economic resources available to the government in question. So Saudi Arabia's relative stability at every point along the curve rises or falls depending on the price of oil; China's curve analogously depends on the country's economic growth. Source here

Do read his latest analysis on Egypt published in the Financial Times here

So how can we use his framework for Malaysia. Where are we exactly on the Curve?

Below is my man on the street view on the situation

First up is where we could be on the curve

My initial question on plotting Malaysia is how stable are we and how open are we?

I could only relate to my own experiences and basic reading of historical events in Modern Malaysia... of which 3 major trigger events were notable as a measure.
  1. The suspension of Parliamentary Democracy in 1969 after the Racial Riots
  2. The 1998 economic crisis and the Reformasi Movement
  3. The losing of BN 2/3 majority and the proliferation of Online Media, Social Networks etc aided by the Technological Revolution
The positioning is pretty clear from the openness perspective of the 3 Major events, we saw clap-down and military rule in 1969 and near similar reaction in 1998 but we have seen nothing post 2008 events.

On that note what can we observe of late?

Ask yourself do you think that the country is more "stable"?

Now allow me to bring back the framework I introduced in the previous post

What would be the tipping point? 

In this framework I said that there is a major Cultural, Linguistic and Religious Barrier that will block the   Unity within the Class Dimension and as long as the Government has the Economic capacity to ensure that the Economic Gaps are managed we should be OK.

Let us go back to 1969, trigger events were the Cultural and Linguistic Barrier among the races compounded by the Major Gaps in the Economic Class Dimension...

What did we get ?

A Race Riot

It was not a Riot to overthrow the Government of the day demanding greater freedom..bla..bla..bla...

And the Government was swift to act to restore "stability" with Military rule..

So now here are some tot for the policy makers...

How do we ride the J?

I shall reiterate my message in the previous post....

Champion the Democracy that you are fighting for...avoid the Red Area in the above graph.

At the same time we must also figure out how to reduce the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Barrier that is keeping us read here my detail tots on the issue

As a person I feel that the society values and unity among fellow Malaysians that I felt in the 80's up till the 90's is breaking apart...

Below I shall reproduce my tots sometime in late 2008

How many of you put up your hand to call the waiter , especially at your average stalls.. five of them zipping around doing nothing all oblivious to you...or even go to a business entity owned by other races..that serves the masses such as workshop for example....and at the end of the "interaction" you feel somewhat cheated in a way..after another customer of the same race as the mechanic walks in and they speak in a language that you don't understand...with friendly facial expressions.........

How do you feel i ask you now?.......

Was it like this before? or was it "better" or somewhat tolerable.......

I think it is time to look at our Rukun Negara.....cause i dont think its working.......

Forget Constitution........those are for "institutions" which aims to govern our interaction...too many articles to remember and understand for a layman....

Imagine this the first target of any ruling party is to have the ability to amend it....that's all they GOVERN us.....first thing out from the news...after the complete black out of information during the last GE......BN loses the "ability"........some people may disagree about constitutions being a control parameter for only institutions but the thing we are asked to do about it.... is actually to PROTECT the Supremacy of the Constitution....that's the do part....

Well lets look at the official translation since we are talking about it

Our Nation, Malaysia is dedicated to:

Achieving a greater unity for all her people;

Maintaining a democratic way of life;

Creating a just society in which the wealth of the nation shall be equitably distributed;

Ensuring a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural tradition,

Building a progressive society which shall be oriented to modern science and technology.

satD:How many did you score.....say a 5 out of 10 on the above.....i only managed to score a low 5 on the last one .....the science and technology part even that i think we could have done better .......................why didn't the Government have policies like qualification of MSC Buildings (Anywhere within 50KM of a reference point) if you are connected at a certain level on the Grid instead of focusing on real estate aspects........that's our Subprime Goverment Projects i a few more i can name but go figure folks.....

We, the people of Malaysia, pledge our united efforts to attain these ends, guided by these principles:

Belief in God.

Loyalty to King and Country.

Supremacy of the Constitution.

The Rule of Law.

Mutual respect and good social behavior.

satD: I'm gonna skip item 2,3 and 4 as i find them hard to assign a numerical value

i'm gonna instead ask you on things that you do everyday.......Item 1 and 5....

How many of you actually practice religion? I mean you can be a Muslim but you drink, commit adultery, lie with malice and intent, tak mandi hadas n never sembayang......

When was the last time you were in church on Sunday? How many of you say your prayers before your meal? Or you just wallop the whole thing in without even thinking about GOD..

Do you say your prayers before you go to sleep......or do you offer anything at all to your GOD

and how many of you don't believe in anything

Count yourself....and your associations and compare that with the people around you say in your office, family etc etc.......whats the %?

Now on point 5....which is the key to our UNITY.....

Imagine if everyone now is more polite with one another....not fake polite.....but genuinely polite how would things be.......

I've been in Jakarta for a few years's so nice.....people are so genuinely feel it......being called a Pak is actually quite nice.....and this is across all race...not just the pribumi....Ibu' so polite.....that helps......

It's different tho when people get into their need for communication and our cars can get 100% tint........anyway whats the fuss about tinted helps conserve energy you fool

Look at how we drive.....i don't need to come out with any analogy on this know for yourself.................and we got no tint...i could actually see your face coming at me....

And to people as well as businesses what is your level of integrity in doing business? We've heard so many large scale corporate failures in recent years arising from complete failure in your principles of integrity......ever heard of terms like corporate governance and risk management..these are tools designed to control them.......the recent one freak me out..

PS:Do think about being more polite to one another and try defining what integrity actually means

Have a nice weekend folks!
Minds are like parachutes; they work best when open. -Lord Thomas Dewer