Wednesday, March 12, 2008

An Australian Miss

* almost 10 years of marriage
* 3 children born in 3 countries in the space of 3 years
* 2 passports
* 14 houses in 8 cities in 5 countries
* countless months living on other peoples grace in their houses
* reams of bureaucratic paperwork

Usha finally became an Australian citizen at 3pm on 12th March, 2008. As is typical of Usha she was extremely nervous! However as an indication of how loved she is she set a record for the number of friends who turned up (with children) to witness her big event.

Photo's can be seen here.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Malaysian politics and the fear of democracy

It is interesting to me to read the response of economists to the recently concluded Malaysian election.  For the first time in it's post independence history the ruling party no longer has the 2/3 majority it needs to be able to unilaterally alter the constitution.  Proponents of democracy have lauded this development as a huge step forward in Malaysia's development towards a fully functioning member of the democratic communities of the free world.  However this headline (Malaysia's polls shock rattles investors--economists) takes an interesting turn on the euphoria.  The article begins:

Weekend elections that have reshaped Malaysia's political landscape will reverberate in the stock market and could dampen investor confidence, economists said Sunday.

How interesting!  A greater degree of democracy could shock the stock market and dampen investor confidence.  Quoting Chua Hak Bin, a Singapore-based economist with Citigroup the article goes on to question "whether the development projects under the previous state governments will continue."  One would presume on the evidence of countries such as the USA and Australia that a strong opposition, especially one which controls a number of states, is the bedrock of a strong democracy.  Incoming leadership desperate to our perform the previous authorities.

However the article goes on to outline their reasons for concern:
  • investors may be concerned that the results could trigger political and racial instability
  • With the Chinese and Indians voting for the opposition, you raise the question if Malaysia's fundamentals are intact and whether there will be racial violence
  • It is due to concerns of political uncertainties and whether there will be unrest.
Is it possible that economists have managed to perceive, al beit via a tangential route, the problems that besiege the heart of democracy?  Democracy attempts to make all men equal, to reconcile the racial differences.  However history bears out that no treaty has ever produced a lasting peace.  The imposition of democracy onto artificial nations has seen disastrous consequences over the centuries.  From the Hellenization programs of the Greeks to the formation of India, Rawanda & Russia.  All have failed to bring lasting peace, a reconciliation, to ethnic divisions.  In watching a recent movie about the partition of India a statement was made, "The war is never over."  It is a phrase that resonants with the failure of democracy.

Googling this phrase brings some interesting results.  Here is a sample:
  • Commenting on the war in Iraq - When you occupy Muslim lands, the “war” is never over until the occupation is over.
  • From the Hindu (Indian Newspaper) - The war is never over when the battle is done. The scars run deep.  (read the whole article it is worth the read)
  • Author Loung Ung, a Cambodian survivor of the Khmer Rouge, on why she wrote the book "Lucky Child" - I want to let the world know that long after the guns have fallen silent, for survivors the war is never over.
Democracy itself can never and will never bring lasting peace.  It is a fallacy born out of human invention.
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