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Democracy and Disasters? May 19, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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So in the Forum, there’s a piece against the democracy of the United States.

I’m not really supportive of the democracy of the United States, because freedom is made so important (or so it appears to be) that bureaucracy is everywhere, preventing efficiency during disasters. But, did this not show one of the strengths of democracy which are not present in authoritarian countries, even a benevolent dictatorship like Singapore? I believe that it is the fact that the weaknesses of the Bush administration were exposed which led to the current American electoral situation.

The failure of the Bush administration was broadcast for all to see and it became clear that as much as the US professes to be a democratic society, differing sets of rules apply to its citizens.

Despite claiming to have the world’s greatest army, it could not see to the needs of its own people. So one must ask the question: Are the Americans better in their vision of democracy and a system of government they seek to stamp on the rest of the globe?

In so far as the response of their ‘freely elected government’ to the plight of the residents of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is concerned, I would say no.

The Americans may not be better in that particular event. But this exposure of governmental failures and shortcomings is something in a democracy which many countries sorely lack. Katrina has showed something, namely that the current government is not up to the task and that it is time for a change. Do we see this happening in Singapore? It’s just Xiao Lee announcing More Good Years Ahead, but not everyone is receiving the goodies. The reality you see on the streets, and probably your own financial situation, would suggest otherwise. But the lack of a democracy, the lack of the representation of the people, shows through. Everything is controlled, and the lack of exposure shows only one thing: What we think shouldn’t matter in the running of the country.

To sit back and simply say we cannot interfere in the internal affairs of another nation is unacceptable. Asean should step in to offer aid and assistance for the common good.

Yes, it is unacceptable. But it may not be just pure democracy which may be standing in the way. Every country has an agenda, motivated not just by politics or the respect of freedom or one’s rights. The European nations are all for airdrops, but what about international relations? Will Myanmar see this as an infringement of their national boundaries, and launch an attack? Singapore trades with Myanmar. Will interfering as the chair of ASEAN lead to the withdrawal or hindrance of these trade relationships? For a writer who professes to proclaim that the “proof is in the pudding”, he shows a surprisingly shallow analysis of the situation.  I am of the personal opinion that Myanmar should be punished.  But it is this deplorable lack of democracy, or the lack of the perceived worth of what the people feel, that no such action will be taken.

What the devastating earthquake in China has shown is that despite being branded as a government that does not offer its citizens the freedoms so dearly espoused in the US, the Chinese government has shown the world through its actions that it is connected with its citizens and that they can count on it. […] Beijing has shown itself to be a worthy government of the people.

Beijing may be, now, a worthy government of the people, but China has been opening up. Beijing may be especially focussing on aid now, because the Olympics are coming. Big money! What’s more, it is a disaster. Any government would be pledged to be reliable in this situation. But is this because an authoritarian society cares for its charges more than a democratic one? Are there not other motivations in the background? The world’s eye is on China now. Beijing has to be smart, so that the West does not do anything drastic to curtail the rise of the Dragon. It does not mean that Beijing is the ideal government for the Chinese.

I am for democracy, whereas Mr. Mohajer seems to be against democracy, especially democracy with the US brand. But it is this system of checks and balances which are vital to ensuring that power is not monopolised. He may be right in that the proof is in the pudding, but a good pudding doesn’t mean that the pudding is ideal or incapable of improvement. You need bad puddings, and the complaints of the diners, to force you to improve. The good pudding argument, as in Singapore, with 40 Good Years and more, is a formula for stagnation and for the good getting better, the bad worse. What’s more, a good pudding breeds arrogance amongst the cooks. You don’t need a disaster to know that.

Mr. Mohajer is right in one last vital point…

As much as we feel for the plight of the victims, we are not the ones burdened with the loss of a loved one or the destruction of our homes.

Well said! So do we have to wait for the loss of a loved one or our eviction out of our homes, because we can’t afford to pay for them anymore, before we sit up and listen?

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