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Monday, February 28, 2011

Dr M: Elections can be manipulated

The former PM warns Tunisians and Egyptians of anarchy following regime change.

PETALING JAYA: Elections can be manipulated and the people who win them are not always the good ones, according to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Commenting on the political unrest in the Arab world, specifically the overthrow of autocratic governments in Tunisia and Egypt, he warned the people of the two countries of the strife to come as they try to set up democratic governments.

In a tone that some Mahathir watchers might describe as sarcastic, he said in his latest blog posting:

“I am sure that the people would want to see a democratic government, a government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

“This sounds great, but government by the people will not be so easy. You cannot have the people directly governing themselves. You will need to have a new constitution and political parties, which will enable representatives of the people to form the government. For this, elections will have to be held. Unfortunately elections can be manipulated.”

Mahathir, who was often accused of autocratic behaviour during his 22 years in power, warned of “instability, economic regression and even anarchy” in the wake of the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes’ overthrow, with “nationalists” and “opportunists” rushing to grab power.

He said he wished the Tunisians and Egyptians well and hoped that they would be “rewarded with the governments they had dreamed of”.

However, he told them to beware of the corrupting influence of power.

“Power corrupts and [this] will affect the performance of the government,” he said. “It is not necessary that the government which replaces the old regime will be free from corruption. The people may have to try to remove the government again and again with no certainty the replacements would be any better.”

He also said the administrative bodies of the two countries would have to be “revamped and retrained” to fit into the democratic system and the police and the military would have to understand the meaning of professionalism. - FMT

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