Met an old friend today, and she asked me – and how so appropriate in Parliament – what will you stand for when you make your political bid?
I thought hard, and I did not want to give an abstract answer.
The concept that encapsulates most of what I believe in is participatory democracy, a good place to begin then.
A nation is a work in progress, and must uphold key institutes while still allowing its people to debate, discuss and affect the way the nation is governed – in real terms all year round.
That the courts, legislative chambers and executive work.
Defend the rights of these organs to operate independently and involve a cross-section of the community.
Participatory democracy is about:
Involving people in making decisions in the most direct manner.
This can be actualised by ensuring the voters to representative ratios are watched. 110,000 people in the seat of Bukit Bintang does not help. Bukit Bintang deserves three MPs.
Effective multi-layered representation. Parliament must strengthen, but so must the state assemblies and the city councils.
I must be able to write to my MP about our defence procurement, and sense he or she will move my sentiments in chambers. I must do the same about land management and local economy to my state assembly – and they must be entrusted with more powers than just overseeing land matters.
And my local councils/city halls will have elected representatives constantly being informed on how their city should be run.
This leads to the exchange of information, it has to happen constantly, that it is transparent and there is accountability to the information.
This country has way too many forms that nobody owns up being responsible to. You make people fill forms only if it is kept, accessed and provided for all the instances it is necessary without putting the onus on the citizen to know where the information he submitted to the state is.
Asking people to be involved, without letting them have the power to remove you, is no power at all.
In a parochial state of mind we operate in which we give ‘pity power’
“You are allowed to decide, but if I don’t like it, then I get to override it.”
That is tough. This guided democracy is no democracy in large parts. It clips the wings of everyone not blue-blooded and it leads to a high rate of apathy.
Those are what I would work for.
The staple issues?
I have strong views of course on them.
Being a social democrat I believe in government intervening for the social upliftment of my people, but not at the cost of business and the market.
However I don’t believe you abrogate yourself to letting the market resolve issues, because they market eventually might resolve everything but the collateral damage along the way is inhuman to allow.
Economically, Malaysia must focus as a service economy and that would place and emphasis on skills development.
A triple language policy is imperative, and a stress on verbal communication of those languages.
The social disconnect in our schools and universities have produced people who are familiar with languages but ill at ease communicating.
The economy must reemphasise the small business holders in modern business. There is a strength in Malaysians doing SME. It has a cultural basis, and there is no reason to shun the below 50 persons organisation.
There is no need to make all companies conglomerates. In a culture of specialisation, having small players aided by mechanisms of participation will enable more people to be economically viable at the levels they are most comfortable with.
Allow for some failing industries to end. The ideas of Ricardo’s comparative advantage tells us that some nations will cease to produce some things due to reliance on other more efficient economies to produce it for them.
But that is at a theoretical level. We think every nation should be producing a substantial amount of their staple food, general goods and most service.
But they can’t do all of it.
Americans lost more basic electronic jobs, but the assembly of some high end goods using a lot of these imported parts still give America a manufacturing spine.
Some things we need to let go off, if the numbers don’t add up.
There are more extensions to the two core areas, but as a summary they concern about both empowering people to real power and to build an economy to mirror our people’s inclinations – providing a platform of growth along what we are good at.
I think those are pretty decent starts for what I would like to run on – for political office.
For a start.