- Anwar Ibrahim Reflects on the Aftermath of the Arab Spring
- Najib must withdraw and apologise for repeating RM100 million false allegations
- Information-rich democracy is key to good governance
Posted: 02 Dec 2014 06:01 PM PST
On November 18, 2014, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, founder and board member, IIIT; leader of the Malaysian opposition; and former deputy prime minister of Malaysia, shared his "Reflections on the Aftermath of the Arab Spring" with the general public at the IIIT headquarters in Herndon, VA.
Citing "O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those in authority from among you" (Q. 4:59), Anwar attributed the Arab Spring uprising to the ruling elite's view that the masses cannot protest whatever policies they decide to follow because they are, at least in their own minds, legitimate rulers. Opposing this concept, he asserted that the rulers must govern according to the maqasid in order to achieve the public good – something that they clearly are not doing. Thus the reforms must be systemic, for the entire system is riddled with corruption, abuse, violence, and self-aggrandizement. For the last decade IIIT has been active in this area and has produced many publications in an ongoing attempt to inform Muslims of what the maqasid are and how they can be implemented in contemporary societies.
Citing the lack of ethics in governance, Anwar stated: "The context of the atrocities inflicted upon by the masses was shocking." Moreover, many "experts" who never saw the upheaval coming asserted that it would not spread beyond Tunisia, thereby showing their inability to understand or even sense the pervasive nature of Arab demands and expectations that finally erupted.
Initial hopes that Arab Spring would succeed in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya turned out to be a mirage in the case of the last two. Those countries that managed to oust their leaders were basically bankrupt, and the Islamists assumed power with simplistic and unrealistic ideas about what they could accomplish and how soon they could accomplish it. With little financial and other support from the Muslim world and the West, the early advances made began to be rolled back as more and more promises went unfulfilled.Dr.Abubaker Alshingeiti, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Dr. Hisham Altalib, and Dr. Emad Shahin
On the whole, Anwar considers the Arab Spring a catastrophe, for now it is not the colonial powers destroying the countries but the countries destroying themselves. The West's failure to formulate a firm policy toward Syria and ISIS (i.e., a "policy of ambivalence"), when added to an incoherent and inconsistent policy of "supporting democracy" in the region, has left the Arabs confused and cynical.
Muslims have quite a lot to learn from this whole experience, among them the following:
1. They must become inclusive by forming coalitions and alliances to achieve common goals. The time of combative rhetoric is over, for it only alienates others and turns them into unnecessary enemies. As the world saw in Egypt, Islamists must become more flexible, adapt to existing governing realities, get the military back into the barracks, be patient and practice restraint, be humble enough to admit that they need help, and show more compassion and understanding for others.
2. They should study what has transpired in non-Arab Muslim countries: Pakistan (under Muhammad Ali Jinnah), Indonesia's peaceful transition to democracy, and Turkey's successful campaign to end the army's influence in the political arena.
3. They should take the concerns of non-Muslim communities seriously and make a good-faith effort to address them. After all, these citizens are also part of the nation.
During the Question and Answer Session, he made several more points in response to the audience's many questions:
1. The regional upheaval will continue because the underlying causes remain unaddressed.
2. The new leaders were unqualified to rule because living in a dictatorship deprived them of any chance to learn how to govern. All they had were theories, which turned out to be not very helpful when implemented.
3. It is time for "constructive intervention" so that ASEAN member countries can seriously address long-term problems affecting Muslim minorities in Burma/Myanmar, southern Thailand, the southern Philippines, and Aceh. The leaders of these countries must understand that more killing cannot resolve the underlying problems of underdevelopment and marginalization; what is needed is social justice.
4. The ulema have to understand that the many personal and other freedoms enjoyed in the West are necessary for the Muslim world to become full of new – and real – democracies.
Posted: 01 Dec 2014 10:24 PM PST
At the UMNO general assembly, PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak made a scurrilous and slanderous attack upon Pakatan Rakyat and myself that RM100 million had been offered to Anifah Aman in order for him to come over to PR.
This false allegation is the subject matter of a defamation suit brought by me against Anifah Aman. Despite the fact that the trial is ongoing, Najib chose to repeat Anifah’s latest baseless allegation that one Ishak Ismail had approached him on my behalf and made such an offer.
In reaction to this blatant falsehood Ishak has publicly stated on 1 December 2014 that he had never made any such offer to Anifah. On the contrary Ishak had confirmed that it was an intermediary acting for Anifah who had approached him instead.
Ishak has now rightly and boldly challenged Anifah to repeat this allegation outside of court where he will be not protected by legal immunity.
I now call upon Najib to retract this false statement made at the UMNO assembly and to apologise to myself and Pakatan Rakyat.
Money politics and corrupt methods has always been the hallmark of UMNO and BN; Pakatan Rakyat has never practised and will never tolerate money politics or corruption. We will save this country by reasoned arguments and by the example of good governance in the States administered by us.
Posted: 01 Dec 2014 10:22 PM PST
By Amartya Sen (Nobel Laureate Economic Sciences)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Human beings have always lived in groups, and their individual lives have invariably depended on group decisions. But the challenges of group choice can be daunting, particularly given the divergent interests and concerns of the group’s members. So, how should collective decision-making be carried out?
A dictator who wants to control every aspect of people’s lives will seek to ignore the preferences of everyone else. But that level of power is hard to achieve. More important, dictatorship of any kind can readily be seen to be a terrible way to govern a society.
So, for both ethical and practical reasons, social scientists have long investigated how the concerns of a society’s members can be reflected in one way or another in its collective decisions, even if the society is not fully democratic. For example, in the fourth century BC, Aristotle in Greece and Kautilya in India explored various possibilities of social choice in their classic books, Politics and Economics, respectively (the Sanskrit title of Kautilya’s book, Arthashastra, translates literally as “the discipline of material wellbeing”).
The study of social choice as a formal discipline first came into its own in the late eighteenth century, when the subject was pioneered by French mathematicians, particularly J. C. Borda and Marquis de Condorcet. The intellectual climate of the time was greatly influenced by the European Enlightenment, with its interest in reasoned construction of a social order, and its commitment to the creation of a society responsive to people’s preferences.
But the theoretical investigations of Borda, Condorcet, and others often yielded rather pessimistic results. For example, the so-called “voting paradox” presented by Condorcet showed that majority rule can reach an impasse when every alternative is defeated in voting by some other alternative, so that no alternative is capable of standing up to the challenge of every other alternative.
Social choice theory in its modern and systematic form owes its rigorous foundation to the work of Kenneth J. Arrow in his 1950 Columbia University PhD dissertation. Arrow’s thesis contained his famous “impossibility theorem,” an analytical result of breathtaking elegance and reach.
Arrow’s theorem shows that even very mild conditions of reasonableness in arriving at social decisions on the basis of simple preference rankings of a society’s individuals could not be simultaneously satisfied by any procedure. When the book based on his dissertation, Social Choice and Individual Values, was published in 1951, it became an instant classic.
Economists, political theorists, moral and political philosophers, sociologists, and even the general public rapidly took notice of what seemed like — and indeed was — a devastating result. Two centuries after visions of social rationality flowered in Enlightenment thinking, the project suddenly seemed, at least superficially, to be inescapably doomed.
It is important to understand why and how Arrow’s impossibility result comes about. Scrutiny of the formal reasoning that establishes the theorem shows that relying only on the preference rankings of individuals makes it difficult to distinguish between very dissimilar social choice problems. The usability of available information is further reduced by the combined effects of innocuous-seeming principles that are popular in informal discussions.
It is essential, particularly for making judgments about social welfare, to compare different individuals’ gains and losses and to take note of their relative affluence, which cannot be immediately deduced only from people’s rankings of social alternatives. It is also important to examine which types of clusters of preference rankings are problematic for different types of voting procedures.
Nonetheless, Arrow’s impossibility theorem ultimately played a hugely constructive role in investigating what democracy demands, which goes well beyond counting votes (important as that is). Enriching the informational base of democracy and making greater use of interactive public reasoning can contribute significantly to making democracy more workable, and also allow reasoned assessment of social welfare.
Social choice theory has thus become a broad discipline, covering a variety of distinct questions. Under what circumstances would majority rule yield unambiguous and consistent decisions? How robust are the different voting procedures for yielding cogent results? How can we judge how well a society as a whole is doing in light of its members’ disparate interests?
How, moreover, can we accommodate individuals’ rights and liberties while giving appropriate recognition to their overall preferences? How do we measure aggregate poverty in view of the varying predicaments and miseries of the diverse people who comprise the society? How do we arrive at social valuations of public goods such as the natural environment?
Beyond these questions, a theory of justice can draw substantially on the insights and analytical results emerging from social choice theory (as I discussed in my 2009 book The Idea of Justice). Furthermore, the understanding generated by social choice theorists’ study of group decisions has helped some research that is not directly a part of social choice theory — for example, on the forms and consequences of gender inequality, or on the causation and prevention of famines.
The reach and relevance of social choice theory is extensive. Rather than undermining the pursuit of social reasoning, Arrow’s deeply challenging impossibility theorem, and the large volume of literature that it has inspired, has immensely strengthened our ability to think rationally about the collective decision-making on which our survival and happiness depend.
This piece also appeared on Project Syndicate.
© Project Syndicate
|You are subscribed to email updates from Anwar Ibrahim |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, United States|