DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF DEMOCRACY – III
- F R Chowdhury
I have already written two articles under this heading. I got considerable feedback from the readers. In general they liked it. Part – I dealt with relations between head of the state and head of the government. Part – II dealt with relations between the government and the civil servants. This time in part – III, I have decided to write about learning good practice and procedures from others.
In the developing countries there is a general trend of admirations for the leaders and their families. Even in democratically elected governments we see certain degree of loyalty to leaders and their families. This practice is more dominant in South Asia where people are by nature more sentimental and emotional. The degree of such loyalty and affinity seem to go few steps more if the leader happen to be assassinated. In such cases sympathy and loyalty work together. The political arena of India was dominated many years by Nehru family. In Pakistan the Bhutto family was dominant for many years. In Sri-Lanka we have seen the mother and daughter being the president and prime minister. In Myanmar, Aung San Suu-Kyi has come to power under the shadow of her late father General Bogyoke Aung San. Philippines and Indonesia were no exception. The political scenes have long been dominated by the families of politicians and generals. However, nowhere it is more remarkable than in Bangladesh. The two ladies have been dominating the political scene for a number of years. One bears the picture of her late father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other bears the picture of her late husband Ziaur Rahman. So much so that one becomes the head of government, the other becomes the protector of democracy. It seems so long these two ladies are alive, the scenario will continue.
2016 was a very important year in the history of South-East Asian politics. The people in Indonesia decided – enough is enough. They broke away from their tradition of worshipping the political families. They elected Mr. Juko Widodo (popularly known as Jukowi) as their new president. He is a simple common man with no link with traditional political families or military families. He was a timber/ furniture trader who was first elected mayor of Jakarta before becoming the president. Similarly the people of Philippines elected Mr. Dutarte as their new president. He also comes from an ordinary family with no family link with politicians or generals or admirals. He is a lawyer who proved very successful as a mayor of Davao in the south where he cleaned up drugs and corruptions before he became the president.
Mr. Widodo and his wife had to travel to Singapore to attend the graduation ceremony of their son. It happened immediately after he was elected president of the Republic of Indonesia. He and his wife wanted to make it a private visit. He purchased economy class tickets for Garuda flight to Singapore for him and his wife. There was a big problem in the airport as the officials would not allow the president and the first lady to travel in economy class. Finally they had to step aside when the president explained it from matter of principle point of view. He made it clear that henceforth things will take place as they should. The message was picked up immediately and corrupt officials realised that their days were numbered. This incident alone brought radical changes.
The president soon made it clear that he would not use presidential pardon for drug lords and criminals. He paid no heed to a request from the Australian prime minister when an Australian citizen was sentenced to death on drug charges. Law of the land prevails. These two incidents were enough for criminals and corrupt officials to get to the right track. Law and order situation improved overnight. Common people started getting benefit of the changes. People enjoy freedom and dignity. Today the people in Indonesia enjoy much better democratic freedom than any time before.
Indonesia has opened for business. Investments are pouring in. Indonesia is making good progress in economic sector and emerging as a military power in the region. Massive investments have been made in transport and communication sector because of its importance in this state of islands.
Recently president Jukowi has issued an important directive to his ministers and other high officials. The directive says that minister or any high official attending any function shall not speak for more than seven minutes. The president reminded them that there is so much to do rather than talk. They shall also ensure that they talk keeping in mind the purpose of the function and refrain talking on matters not related to the function or institute. Under no circumstances they shall talk on matters that do not fall within their purview. In other words he reminded them that everybody should not try to behave like the foreign minister. There is only one foreign minister.
I think the readers have already understood why I picked up this subject today. Time has come for us to stop worshipping leaders and members of their families. We must use our democratic powers in the right way. This article contains enough ethical substance for our leaders. Leader has to set the example and then others will follow. Talking less and doing more is the vital requirement. Minister should only talk about matters within his/ her domain. We must observe carefully all that happening around us and learn the lessons.
London, 03-March-2017 <[email protected]>