Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bringing Back The Politics of Grandeur

"All my life, I have had a certain idea of France." - Mémoires de guerre 

I've been recently fascinated in regards of Charles De Gaulle, not primarily because of his background but it's De Gaulle's second six-years of his 10-year presidency was simply called by critics as the politics of grandeur - starting with the foundation of the French Fifth Republic. By  breaking down into several aspects of his policies and touching briefly on his background, we can at least point out some striking similarities the man and his style of politics that is now missing in Malaysian politics and should be repaired.

"I have re-established them when they had disappeared. Who honestly believes that, at age 67, I would start a career as a dictator?"

The man himself had an extensive military background having lead the French forces in World War II and as that result, he himself had a strict discipline even over his private life. This also means he is also a constitutionalist by conviction - meaning he will only take and accept the post offered by lawful constituted authorities. And when he was president, he insisted on paying his own money for hair cut, separate electric meter for his private residency in the Champs Elysee. It made me to parallel De Gaulle with the late Hussein Onn, where both had military background and they are very frank and direct in nature, having the no-nonsense attitude. 

When Tun Razak visited China in 1974, it was clearly identical to de Gaulle's recognition and the start of France's partnership with China although Britain and U.S called that as posturing. The "I can be your friend, no matter what kind of stance you are" is something that caught my attention and similarities. 

Note: 1962 was a stormy time for De Gaulle and France, as once the Evian Accords was agreed upon, the OAS paramilitary organization have executed a series of attacks meant to show their total objection to the independence of Algeria. Several attempts were made to assassinate De Gaulle culminating with the failed Bastien-Thiry led attempt at Petit La Clamart on 22 August 1962.


Sure, I have read the meaning of the jargon dirigisme, that is a using the combination of things related to capitalism and state-directed economy, but in the recent times, I noticed that Malaysia is starting to letting go of control of the national economy although they are still using the five-year plans like the 10MP plan. I happened to recall that Lee Kuan Yew said today

"Do not believe that the Singapore flight can be on auto-pilot. We will run into storms, we will run into all kinds of emergencies and we must have good pilots on board.”

The word auto-pilot is what I am a little uncomfortable with and I believed the Malaysian economy is right now in that mode. The trend of top people in the leadership pool are screaming and shows its obsession over the Malay vs Christian row, sex video and the obsession of taking out Anwar Ibrahim and Pakatan Rakyat simply lays it on the board. It also paints the picture that gutter politics is higher priority over more bigger problems and if there is a problem that will hit Malaysia on national scale, then it would be too late already. In this case, who's really doing the auto-pilot mode now? I get the feeling that it's not the central bank nor any financial institution but another third-party in the form of our own public relations company, advising on image and public relations on the way.

I still view that Singapore still does active dirigisme and constant monitoring of the economy more often than Malaysia given that they have went through recession and recovered successfully. The Sing dollar currency has been viewed as the main tool vs Malaysia's overnight rates to battle inflation, which was far more successful than we are right now. In this point of time, where America and Europe is in the weak state (low interest rates, etc), we can't really go autopilot now.

There have been economic warnings of the impending collapse of the US Dollar, (it may be anytime, there is the holding off the inevitable). France in De Gaulle and Pompidou's time started dumping the dollar reserves for gold and silver - which at this time is still high in value, but the idea is to reduce dependency on the US. But what about Malaysia? Have they been preparing for the worst case scenario? I sincerely doubt so.

I really don't believe in Najib's statement that mirrored John McCain in 2008 - "Our economy and fundamentals are strong." - but it has been observed that foreign investors don't believe in that statement.

"Yes, it is Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, it is the whole of Europe, that will decide the destiny of the world!" - De Gaulle's 23 November 1959 speech

Expansion vs Integration

The slogan of Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals underlines the idea to focus more on integration rather than expansion. But Europe integration would exclude Britain at that time, (De Gaulle vetoed the entry to the union twice) because he  thinks Britain is a stooge of the Americas. This of course brings to first - the current racial problem where ultra-Malays whack Christians and other minority races just because of the allegation that there are replacing the official religion as mentioned in the federal Constitution with other religion.

Of course, if you are not a reading person, then you are an idiot because there is simply not enough numbers to amend the constitution nor the non-Malays outnumbering the Malays and you must have the consent of the Malay rulers council to do so. It's not that direct. Period.

We have yet to see proper racial and social integration although there have numerous calls of all races to integrate together but if you look at the current issues, you would see the opposite of integration: expansion. Social integration is like a game of whack the mole, that is sometimes you have put tabs onto every race of the country's population to gel together. Integration means of doing non-preferential treatment instead of saying this case can only be done by one race and so forth.

I noticed lately that when one dominant race whacking the others and making noises like "chest thumping" themselves, I often consider that of expanding the influence that others are not comfortable of. There have been cases where religion has been manipulated for own political ends and hegemony. The Eskay's sumpah laknat is one example, where it went ahead without four proper witnesses, which violates its pre-requisite and it should not have happened until the requisite got fulfilled. Does Ketuanan Melayu fall under expansion? I have to agree, it is.

"Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals", has often been cited throughout the history of European integration. It became, for the next ten years, a favourite political rallying cry of de Gaulle's. His vision stood in contrast to the Atlanticism of the United States and Britain, preferring instead a Europe that would act as a third pole between the United States and the Soviet Union. By including in his ideal of Europe all the territory up to the Urals, de Gaulle was implicitly offering détente to the Soviets, while his phrase was also interpreted as excluding the United Kingdom from a future Europe.

The Fourth Pole

I am aware that Malaysia is one of the founding members of ASEAN, the NAM. ASEAN and NAM is supposedly to be strong and together. Why can't they can be the "fourth pole" between the U.S and Russia?

He spoke constantly of his resentment of US influence (hegemony) in Latin America – "that some states should establish a power of political or economic direction outside their own borders". Yet France could provide no investment or aid to match that from Washington

Are our leaders aware of this or decided to become a willing "puppet" to imperial power? This is a question from that fact above.

The Last Say

The near to the end of the Mahathir years was similar to de Gaulle's crisis faced in 1968. Many people are opposed to what is called biased views, gender inequality, society was traditional and repressive and demanded active participation in reforms. Whereas in 1999, following the Anwar sacking, people have demanded reformation and Dr. M's quit from PM post.

Both men have reached to the peak and lowest point where they should leave. Unlike Dr. M, de Gaulle resigned once his referendum failed in Parliament, but Dr. M only decided to leave in 2003. Huh.

Malaysia is slowly plunging to the hole of no escape and our ruling leaders are obsessed of maintaining hegemony over others, removing Anwar and the opposition coalition out, fanning issues as to provoke races to whack one another, yet while this happens, Malaysia is in auto-pilot, for example all ministers went to Sarawak for campaigning, dropping their more important work just for the state election win. They never know when a storm is coming in that auto-pilot won't help them out!

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