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Thursday, December 30, 2021

Drop capitalism, give social democracy a try, says academic

 

Social democracy will strengthen the social safety net especially on matters such as healthcare, education and housing, says Azmil Tayeb of Universiti Sains Malaysia.

PETALING JAYA: A political scientist has suggested a change in Malaysia’s governing system so that public interest will be the foremost consideration in policy making.

Azmil Tayeb of Universiti Sains Malaysia said he would advocate the kind of social democracy practised in Scandinavia and Germany.

The Scandinavian countries and Germany have been consistently rated high on the quality-of-life index and they have managed to steer their way out of economic crises without much negative effects on their populations.

Azmil said social democracy would be an improvement to the current capitalist system as it would strengthen the social safety net, provide public goods and protect workers’ rights.

Azmil Tayeb.

“It means that certain things such as education, healthcare, housing and others will be the responsibility of the government and cannot be fully privatised for profit,” he told FMT.

Azmil was responding to comments that former Universiti Malaya researcher Shaharuddin Maaruf made at recent forum.

According to Shaharuddin, many problems in Malaysia, such as rising food prices and a widening income gap, could be solved through the adoption of socialism.

Azmil said Malaysia was ripe for socialist ideas because the pandemic had made the poor poorer and left the rich barely affected or even prospering.

“Neoliberal policies that have been implemented in Malaysia have proven to be useless in dealing with the economic fallout from the pandemic,” he said.

Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said Malaysia could try to experiment with the systems in place in Scandinavia and other parts of northern Europe but would need to have a clean government first.

Oh Ei Sun.

“If not, the taxes collected for use in providing better social services would end up in the pockets of corrupt people,” he said,

Oh told FMT that Malaysia needed to be cautious if it wanted to experiment with a socialist political and economic system.

Such an experiment could fail miserably if not done right.

“So far, capitalism has made Malaysia into one of the more successful developing countries in the world,” he said.

He cited the Soviet Union as an example of a socialist country that had suffered from high food prices, food shortages and a wide income gap.- FMT

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