Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ibn Khaldun and Bagan Pinang

Congratulations to BN on its by-election victory at Bagan Pinang! So BN had succeeded in checking the thrust of the PR horde southwards. It was indeed a significant by-election, a watershed so to speak. Apart from the question of the seat, Bagan Pinang have had a rather sombering effect on both the victor and the vanquished. I am referring here only to the result, and not to the actual psychological or moral effects on the victor and the vanquished. I think they can both draw vital lessons from Bagan Pinang and its people, if they have the moral courage and introspection to do so.

Ibn Khaldun, the medieaval Muslim thinker and founder of sociology, studied the rise and fall of dynasties in his monumental 'Muqadimmah', or 'Introduction to History'. In general terms he noted that more or less dynasties lasted about three generations. Now if we take approximately one generation to be about 30 years, this would make it about 90 years. He refers to the dynastic stages to be respectively that of 'the founder', 'the builder' and 'the destroyer'.

In the first stage, that of 'the founder', the dynasty is usually hardy, resourceful, disciplined,committed to the dynastic goal, and therefore is able to establish itself successfully. In the second stage of 'the builder', the dynasty works hard to consolidate and established itself further. This stage is usually associated with greater success than 'the founder' as the dynasty is more established with greater resources and authority at its command. The third stage of 'the destroyer' is the period of decline, and eventual fall, because of corruption, oppression,injustice and general decadence.

Now UMNO have had its corresponding or parallel stages. UMNO members always lament the days gone by when UMNO members and leaders used to be committed, capable of sacrifices and championed the cause of the rakyat in its early days, meaning the era of 'the founder'. Then UMNO had seen the heights of its power and influence, overseeing the path to development and nation-building, the stage of 'the builder'. Now it has been about 62 years or so from its founding in 1946/47. It should now be chronogically in the third stage of 'the destroyer'. And the early signs and symtoms are more than evident, I must say.

 Is there something in the theory of Ibn Khaldun on the rise and fall of dynasties? Well, just to be sure, UMNO or its BN components should draw some moral lessons from Bagan Pinang, now that the voters had graciously given them the mandate. UMNO does not have to be fatalistic or historically determined. It should prove Ibn Khaldun wrong by fulfilling its oath of reforms and rejuvenation. For certainly if they are genuinely bent on reforms and renewal, their setbacks at the last General Election can be reversed. Otherwise, it would  be just a question of  'the destroyer' fulfilling his historical destiny!

Bagan Pinang has vital lessons for PR too, all too many. Their decline can come to pass too. It doesn't have to be 3 generations. Rocky Bru's observation is accurate. Instead of sombering PR, the defeat at the by-election had made them feel even hollier and all -mighty.They blamed the voters, rather admonised and insulted them, for voting the BN. Their response to defeat is sneering and condescending to the rakyat. The rakyat is deemed 'immoral' for so voting. In fact not only immoral but stupid too!

 One PR comment arrogantly recommends that PR abandons the southern states and its 'immoral' and 'stupid' people,  concentrate instead on Penang, Kedah, Perak, Selangor, Kelantan, where the people are 'moral' and 'smart'. In short, voting PR is 'moral' and 'smart', while voting for the BN is 'immoral' and 'dumb'! What arrogance and condescension! and from a coalition arrogating itself to be the moral and spiritual champion of the people's cause. What a sad thing for Malaysian democracy!

If PR is capable of self and moral introspection, the messages are clear. Judging by the comments, the voters reject double moral standards, hollier than thou attitude and arrogance in victory at previous polls. Oh..one more important lesson. If you adopt the higher moral ground, you must live up to it. Should you fall short, the people would deem you even lower than those you accuse of 'immorality or corruption' since at least they do not make claims of saintliness!

1 comment:

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