Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ong Tee Keat vs The Malaysian Polyarchy-Corporatists

There is a need to consider Ong Tee Keat's reported lament that there were some forces collaborating in an attempt to stop him from disclosing PricewaterhouseCoopers' audit report on the PKFZ.

Ong is further quoted as saying that "The steps they take include threats on my personal safety as well as applying internal pressure in an attempt to stop me from disclosing the content of the report". It is further reported that, He (Ong) even said someone had delivered him a message through some "secret society brothers" saying, "If you're wiped out from this world some day, you should know why this has happened!".

Such a statement coming from a Cabinet Minister, a President of MCA, the second-largest component party of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, should raise alarm bells at the highest levels of government. One of their own, a member of the elite, is under siege.

One immediate question that springs to mind is whether Ong lodged a police report? And, if not, why not?

While waiting for further reactions from the besieged Ong, it is apposite to consider the bigger picture of what Ong has described.

The Malaysian Polyarchy-Corporatists
Professor Robert A. Dahl of Yale University coined the word polyarchy to describe a form of government where power is vested in a select few.
http://www.yale.edu/yup/images/0300015658.jpgpix from here.
Dahl's colleague Charles Lindblom embellished the definition to include the view that no single, monolithic elite controls government and society, but rather a series of specialized elites compete and bargain with one another for control. It is this peaceful competition and compromise between elites in politics and the marketplace that drives free-market democracy and allows it to thrive.

However, Lindblom soon began to see the shortcomings of Polyarchy with regards to democratic governance. When certain groups of elites gain crucial advantages, become too successful and begin to collude with one another instead of compete, Polyarchy can easily turn into Corporatism which is a term used to describe a practice whereby a state, through the process of licensing and regulating officially-incorporated social, religious, economic, or popular organizations, effectively co-opts their leadership or circumscribes their ability to challenge state authority by establishing the state as the source of their legitimacy, as well as sometimes running them, either directly or indirectly through corporations.

http://www.mspace.fm/images/mspace-polyarchy.pngpix from here.

This phenomenon is apparent in every country. It is difficult to articulate. But, in the Malaysian context, the several books by Bruce Gale and KS Jomo under many different titles will lend a good illustration of polyarchical and corporatist conduct in Malaysia Inc.

A sinister turn
What Ong has described suggests that the elite in Malaysia has a very sinister side that has chosen to manifest itself in the PKFZ episode.

Many will shrug their shoulders and say, "So, what else is new?" or, "That's stating the obvious". And, they would be correct.

But, that should not trivialise the fact that here we have Ong Tee Keat, Cabinet Minister and President of MCA, the second-largest component party within the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition stating baldly that he is being threatened by people who want the PKFZ matter hushed up.

So, in addition to the question that I have posed earlier about whether or, not, Ong has lodged a police report on the threats that he has received, we should also ask whether UMNO, MCA and the entire Barisan Nasional apparatus are prepared to put up with threats made to their leaders?

If the answer is "No!", then, will any concerted action be taken by the law enforcement agencies to bring the perpetrators to book on the criminal offence of threatening a person with the words, "If you're wiped out from this world some day, you should know why this has happened!".

Certainly, this disclosure by Ong points further to the very embedded rot that has set into the stratosphere of the Malaysian elite.

It is an indictment of 52 years of dominance by a ruling coalition that Ong and the MCA is so much a part of.
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Postscript:

Speaking of "secret society brothers", Sim Kwang Yang has just written another interesting piece in Malaysiakini on the phenomenon of the Malaysian underworld. His impulse was derived from YB Wee Choo Keong's allegation that certain gang members had special access to the office of a certain state executive councillor in Selangor.

1 comment:

donplaypuks® said...

Cast your mind back to the first Bank Bumi $2 billion scandal.

An investigating accountant was murdered in HK. Many of the elite told the investigating tribunal and the PM not to look too closely into that affair.

Till today no one has been charged with anything in M'sia for the BBMB scandal. Dr.M stood up in Parliament and announced that no crime was committed in M'sia!

So, this disease has been here for 4 decades.

Bot Ong Ta Kut should realise that this kind of threat goes with the job of being MCA Head. Or else, he can retire early and take up tiddlywinks!