Saturday, October 10, 2009

Time for Anwar Ibrahim to become a benevolent dictator?

Raja Petra Kamarudin, the outspoken Malaysian blogger and fugitive, argues in his latest blog posting from wherever in the world he's hiding that Malaysia's disparate opposition coalition needs to develop some discipline if it is to have any hope of winning power.

Since last year's surprise election result, when the ruling Barisan Nasional lost its two-thirds majority, the Pakatan Rakyat grouping - composed of a Chinese pro-democracy party, an Islamic party and a multi-racial party led by former deputy PM Anwar Ibrahim - has spent as much time fighting internal battles as it has taking on the government.

RPK thinks Anwar needs to firm up the loose coalition into an official party and stamp some authority on the party members if it is to beat Prime Minister Najib Razak - noted for his authoritarian streak - at its own game.
I always said there are times when we need a dictator to lead us. But then, what kind of dictator are we talking about? There are malevolent dictators and there are benevolent dictators. Malevolent is bad. Benevolent is good. So, while dictators are normally seen in a negative light, we can’t just discount all dictators as bad. We have good dictators and we have bad dictators.

I would take a benevolent dictator any time over someone who stands by and does nothing. More damage and injustice is done when someone takes no action. When there is racism and racial skirmishes resulting in the deaths of many innocent women and children, doing nothing is worse than clamping down with a heavy hand.
He concludes:
Yes, it is time Pakatan Rakyat not only registers as a legal entity but also crack the whip. We need discipline in the opposition. Sit down and agree on the policies. Bang tables if need be. But once a consensus has been reached and the three opposition parties have agreed on an unanimous decision, let no party leader try to torpedo all this by going off tangent. Rule ruthlessly, with a dictator’s hand, but a benevolent dictator at that.
Interesting view. The major problem is that any attempt to instill conformity on a rather uncomfortable rainbow coalition composed of Islamists, liberal democracy activists and assorted anti-government types may lead to the break-up of said grouping.

That, I presume, is what has prevented Anwar from cracking the whip thus far.

Anwar's critics would say, of course, that his dictatorial instincts are not buried too deep beneath the surface so shouldn't be that difficult to recover.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user KamalSell.

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