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Time to revisit Democracy

Across the world, through their frequent transgressions, politicians are the most distrusted people and yet we cannot get rid of them because they are the creatures of democracy.

The elective process in democracy was intended to allow people to exercise their judgment and elect proper persons to represent them in the parliament.

The system is failing.

Who failed and what brought this process into disrepute? Did the people fail in their judgment or did the politicians fail the people?

The answer is that both failed. In most cases, the people opted to go for the rhetoric and not substance and the politicians betrayed the trust and faith reposed in them.

Vultures sit in adjudication amidst receding doves in many parliaments.

The vulture culture is becoming dominant. There is little hope for change because its beneficiaries, the politicians, are lauding democracy as irreplaceable.

Many New Zealanders have suddenly awakened to the infamy of their political representatives, following the credit card scandals. It is the folly of democracy that it allows such people to be elected to the high office.

Former Labour MP Dover Samuels rightly claimed that if morality were to be the measure, three quarters of the parliamentarians would not be there.

Recent revelations on abuse of credit card showed that our politicians cannot claim that they are an embodiment of honesty and integrity. The image of New Zealand’s politicians has been tarnished and there was no attempt by the accused to show true remorse.

Shane Jones from the Labour Party admitted but his demeanor was largely dismissive, bordering on arrogance and conceit.

Leadership of both Labour and National is in damage control, and the public is rightly inflamed at the indiscretions of those who were expected to set example, maintaining high moral and ethical standards. They live high life, aware that voters have short memories.

Sadly, politics across the world is in a degenerative mode, and there is no silver lining for the goodness in politicians to emerge. In the current environment, the last of the living statesmen Nelson Mandela, is not likely to be replaced.

Ironically, in the political realm, the difference between a statesman and politician is that while the former shears the sheep, the latter skins them!

India, the largest democracy, has a fair number of convicted criminals and known gangsters that have a strong influence in the country’s Parliament. Phoolan Devi, the infamous bandit queen, who killed scores of people, was a lawmaker (!). In UK (regarded as the quintessence of democracy), many politicians were implicated for abuse of office.

In the Third World Countries, Democracy has been reinvented, allowing politicians to manipulate the elective process and engage in genocide and hideous corrupt practices.

The need for dictators has become obsolete, as they can easily manipulate the elective process to get elected. Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe is a glaring example of leaders who should face the International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity. Instead, at 86, he still bellows, and the UN accords him the honor to addressing its members.

In neighbouring Kenya, politicians were accused of plundering the state coffers, awarding themselves a monthly pay rise of 25%, making them among the highest-paid legislators in the world. They resisted paying income tax for years but agreed to it only after the hefty pay increase that raised their monthly salaries by $3000 to $13,380.

Indeed, democratic forms of government must accord equality, freedom, rights and justice to its people. Such is not the case in many democracies and yet, we remain indifferent to such blatant lapses.

In Fiji, a democratically elected government introduced positive discrimination against Indo-Fijians, resulting in their being systematically persecuted.

It is time to revisit, review and redefine democracy, its form and content, ensuring that the ideals that it upheld are not compromised.

In screening the candidates, there should be pre-approved national criteria, ensuring that the best of the crop make it into the Parliament.

Indeed, it is the right and also responsibility of the elector to be judicious in casting of his or her vote, aware that it is an investment for their future and the nation.

Voters must ensure that the quality of leaders who make it to Parliament have the requisite qualifications and attributes to carryout their duties and responsibilities with honesty, dignity and integrity. We must not be content with the label of democracy but ensure that it is not diluted to suit the agenda of devious and deceitful politicians.

Interestingly, most things have evolved with times.

But sadly, dishonest politicians, to fit their own personal agendas, have progressively hijacked democracy. They placed self-interest above national interest and did incalculable harm to the body of democracy.

Lame democracies in Third World Countries and scarred democracies in developed countries collectively, have destroyed the faith and trust of people in contemporary politics and politicians.

The rot in the human society is deep-seated.

However, it may be of some consolation to the politicians to note that even some priests, custodians of our moral conscience, are considered to be charlatans.

You cannot even trust them with your dime or your daughter!

The above Guest Editorial, written by Author (of Tears in Paradise, which is now in its Third Edition) and Columnist Rajendra Prasad, does not reflect the views of Indian Newslink.

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