Democracy and the role of government – An overview — Greg Lopez

Source: The Malay Mail  Online

BY GREG LOPEZ

From MMO: Greg Lopez is a lecturer at Murdoch University Executive Education Centre. He is interested in the links between individual agency, governance, economic growth and political stability. He explores these issues through this column.

From MMO: Greg Lopez is a lecturer at Murdoch University Executive Education Centre. He is interested in the links between individual agency, governance, economic growth and political stability. He explores these issues through this column.

MARCH 1 — In two earlier articles, it was stated that in a democratic system (which Malaysia claims to be), free and fair elections is the only way of electing a government.

In earlier articles, it was narrated that human history has always been about survival, in particular the survival of “the tribe.” In Malaysia, the “Umno tribe”, the “PAS tribe” and other “tribes” residing in this geographical and political entity called Malaysia compete for the available resources to continue and/or enhance their (and that of their supporters’) chances of survival.

Clearly, some tribes have benefitted more than others – hence the unprecedented discontent with the present government.

But what is democracy and what is the role of a democratically elected government?

At the most fundamental level, democracy is a system where “the people” rule (government of the people, by the people, for the people as it is famously phrased); more importantly, “the people” must rule equally.

This differentiates democracy from other systems (e.g. monarchy – rule by a particular family; theocracy – rule by the clergy; dictatorship – rule by one individual; one party state – rule by one particular party; oligarchy – rule by one particular group of rich people, etc.).

What then is the role of government in a democracy to achieve the two fundamental principles of democracy (ruled equally by a government of the people, by the people and for the people)?  Read more