The Fear: Where Horror Is a Weapon

May 29, 2011

Books of The Times

Where Dissidents Are the Prey, and Horror Is a Weapon

By Michiko Kakutani (May 23, 2011)

An authoritarian government willing to use the most brutal means to hold on to power; a dictator whose thugs have murdered, tortured, imprisoned or intimidated tens of thousands of civilians; and individuals who have risked their lives simply to exercise their most fundamental rights — this is the state of affairs not only in Libya today, but also in Zimbabwe, which has suffered the ravages of more than 30 years under the autocratic rule of President Robert Mugabe.

In his chilling new book, “The Fear,” the journalist Peter Godwin gives readers an unsparing account of the horrors that Mr. Mugabe’s regime has inflicted on the people of Zimbabwe. During his three decades in office the country’s economy has tanked: agricultural production has plummeted, unemployment and food shortages have multiplied, inflation has soared, and much of the country’s middle class has fled. AIDS cases have exploded, and medicine and medical help are in increasingly short supply.

Hopes that Mr. Mugabe’s days as president might actually be numbered were dashed in the weeks leading up to a runoff election in June 2008, when supporters of the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change came under violent attack, and Mr. Tsvangirai announced his withdrawal as a presidential candidate, saying he could not ask people to come out to vote for him “when that vote would cost them their lives.”

A so-called power-sharing government has been in place since 2008, but Mr. Mugabe has remained firmly in control; more than a quarter of his opponents in Parliament have been arrested, according to the Movement for Democratic Change and human-rights lawyers. Despite rumors about his health, Mr. Mugabe declared last week that he intended to run for president this year at the age of 87, and political violence is reportedly already increasing.

In “The Fear” Mr. Godwin chronicles the savagery of Mr. Mugabe’s regime in harrowing detail. Some observers, he notes, call what has happened in Zimbabwe “politicide”: “As genocide is an attempt to wipe out an ethnic group, so politicide is the practice of wiping out an entire political movement.”

The murders carried out by the president’s supporters and riot police around the time of the 2008 election, Mr. Godwin says, were “accompanied by torture and rape on an industrial scale, committed on a catch-and-release basis”: “When those who survive, terribly injured, limp home, or are carried or pushed in wheelbarrows, or on the backs of pickup trucks, they act like human billboards, advertising the appalling consequences of opposition to the tyranny, bearing their gruesome political stigmata. And in their home communities, their return causes ripples of anxiety to spread.” The people have given this time of violence and suffering its own name, chidudu — meaning “the fear.”

In reporting this book Mr. Godwin traveled back to the country where he grew up, despite the dangers: “not only from Mugabe’s banning of Western journalists, but also because I was once declared an enemy of the state, accused of spying.” He uses his intimate knowledge of Zimbabwe to introduce readers to opposition leaders, church authorities, foreign diplomats and ordinary people who have ended up in hospitals or as refugees — beaten, mutilated, raped and terrorized, their houses burned to the ground.

This volume lacks the intimacy of the author’s two affecting memoirs about Zimbabwe (“Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa” and “When a Crocodile Eats the Sun”), and it sometimes assumes a little too much familiarity on the part of the lay reader with that country’s tragic history. But it remains a document that should be read by anyone interested in the sacrifices that people are willing to make for the sake of democracy — a timely document, indeed, given the democratic uprisings taking place this spring in northern Africa and the Middle East. Not only is “The Fear” a valuable work of testimony — filled with firsthand accounts of witnesses to the most horrific crimes — but it is also a haunting testament to those survivors’ courage and determination.

Among the ordinary citizens depicted in these pages is Tichanzii Gandanga, who worked for the Movement for Democratic Change. Mr. Godwin reports that Mr. Gandanga was kidnapped by thugs he believes were members of President Mugabe’s spying agency, lashed with whips made from tire rubber and kicked in the face. His tormentors then dragged him naked into the road and ran over his legs twice with their car.

Denias Dombo, a farmer who also worked as a district organizing secretary for the movement, Mr. Godwin writes, watched as Mugabe supporters burned down his house, and he was then assaulted with rocks, iron bars and heavy sticks. According to Mr. Godwin, one leg was broken, an arm was shattered and several ribs fractured. His means of making a living, his plow and cultivator, were stolen; his cattle killed. He was unable to find his wife and children.

Dadirai Chipiro, a former nursery school teacher and the wife of an electoral organizer for the Movement for Democratic Change, did not survive an attack by government agents. They hacked off her right hand and both her feet, Mr. Godwin says, dragged her back into her house and set it on fire with a gasoline bomb.

The litany of suffering in this book is devastating, and the accounts that Mr. Godwin has collected, as the saying goes in Zimbabwe, are “just the ears of the hippo.” There are many more stories and much more pain right below the surface. Thousands of people, he says, have simply gone missing: “Bodies are being found bobbing at the spillway of dams; other are discovered in the bush, dumped by their murderers, miles and miles from where they were abducted. In some particularly gruesome cases, the victims have been castrated, their testicles stuffed in their mouths, or their eyes gouged out. Many will never be found. Some 10,000 people have been tortured. Twenty thousand have had their houses burned down — up to 200,000 are now displaced.”

As for prison conditions in the country, Mr. Godwin contends, they are miserable — another index “by which to measure the depths of depravity of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.” A freelance saw miller named Shane Kidd, who was thrown in prison after renting a room to the Movement for Democratic Change to use as an office, recounts in these pages how policemen would spray freezing water and sometimes throw buckets of urine through the prison bars, dousing the prisoners and their thin blankets and leaving the cell floors ankle-deep in water.

The opposition leader Roy Bennett reports that in Mutare Remand Prison rations had been cut to one meal from three, and that many inmates suffer from pellagra, a severe vitamin deficiency that was common in Soviet labor camps. Without outside food or medicine, Mr. Godwin writes, “the average inmate is dead within a year.”

One of the most haunting stories in this volume is that of Chenjerai Mangezo, who was nearly beaten to death after winning as a movement candidate for a rural district council. Though his body was completely immobilized in plaster, Mr. Godwin says, Mr. Mangezo insisted on attending the swearing-in ceremony, and he was driven there lying on foam mattresses heaped in the back of a pickup truck. He has continued to attend council meetings, sitting alongside some of the very Mugabe supporters who oversaw his beating.

What, besides courage, has enabled Mr. Mangezo to sit there with his persecutors? “Is it fatalism, a quality that Westerners see in Africans?” Mr. Godwin asks. “Westerners often mistake African endurance, and the lack of self-pity, for fatalism. No, I think the other quality in Chenjerai Mangezo is patience, a dogged tenacity. He hasn’t given up on getting justice. But he will wait for it.”

“People like Chenjerai,” he goes on, “are the real asine mabvi — the men without knees. Not only were his legs covered by plaster casts for months, but he has refused to kneel, refused to prostrate himself before the dictatorship, whatever the consequences.

A version of this review appeared in print on May 24, 2011, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: Where Dissidents Are the Prey, and Horror Is a Weapon.

58 thoughts on “The Fear: Where Horror Is a Weapon

  1. Interesting article, Datuk.
    Happenstance, that i was thinking about this Robert Gabriel Mugabe fella and what was, that makes him tick – just as our own Octo hums.. All that while flying 10,000m above the surface of the earth. A fellow passenger, a gentleman from S. Africa, was eluding to Chatham House’s claim that Robert M., has massive assets hidden in Singapore and Malaysia. There must be some truth to the matter, since ‘Gucci’ Grace Mugabe seems to enjoy Langkawi holidays overmuch, even as the atrocities described above are being perpetuated.

    Are these 2 Octos, ‘products’ of British colonization – both highly intelligent (Mugabe has 6 degrees!), but intrinsically ‘evil’?
    I don’t know the answer, but see a parallel in their upbringing. I guess we can blame the blasted colonialists for almost anything under the tropical sun nowadays!

  2. We are mea cupla, but we blame the colonialists and other bogey men for all our problems. Mahathir is our problem. We went along with all his schemes and dictatorial (not as bad as Mugabe) ways.

    It is time we as individuals look at ourselves carefully, and take some of the blame for what had and is happening to our country. We keep saying “we can’t do much”. Is that true, or is it a convenient way of evading responsibility? Don’t be the victim if we want change. We have to take charge and act to make change happen collectively, by democratic means of course. Use the power of the ballot box and hold all our politicians in the government and in the opposition to account for abuses of power. If not, we should just shut up. That is my view, C.L. Familiaris.

  3. This man openly admitted to using degrees of violence to remain in power. People are known by the company they keep.

    And if you do not know English you will never read this book because it will never be trsanslated to B. Malaysia.

  4. The lowest ‘life’ on earth Kat, are probably ‘prions’ the stuff that gives one mad-cow disease.
    I was asking whether these creatures that so typify the worst of mankind have conscience whatsoever. To murder, torture, maim and rape your enemies, is surprisingly not so different from ‘bearing false witness’ against your neighbor.

    My question is: Who of these 2 Octos will be judged more ‘evil’ in retrospect? Is slow asphyxiation of an entitled race and economic rapine any worse than killing off your political enemies (politicide) asap? Both serve the same ultimate purpose, does it not?

  5. Today is Memorial Day over here when Americans celebrate their Fallen. In my extended family, in addition to a Prime Minister, and two Governors, four Mentris Besars, ambassadors and diplomats there are and have been soldiers i.e. a General, Brig.Gen, colonels and majors – including yours truly whose closest encounter with the enemy was when he saw ‘enemy soldiers’ in his cross-hairs at the shooting range. But one did reach the very top and to soldiers like them I raise my hand in salute for their services to the nation. And to our Datin whose birthday is today it is time for reflections.

  6. The levers of power are interlocked . Mahathir and UMNO in plundering the country ensured that the military,the police, judiciary and other relevant civil service heads e.g KSN, KSU’s of relevant ministries are amply rewarded even post retirement. The ex-generals for example control Affin Bank, Boustead along with various property arms and proxy companies. It is not the ordinary Melayus that have benefitted,and it is they who will demand for change when all the racial baiting and islam under threat crap wears thin !!

  7. Right on Ken. So what are you guys gonna do about it? Exercise your right via the ballot box which you could only hope to do once every five years? Yes, you can do that but don’t count on it because when push comes to shove they will rig it. The personal stakes are just too high for these criminals.

  8. Even our Dato has been silenced to some degree. Don’t misunderstand. I’d encourage him to remain reasonably silent when challenged.

    When the odds are stacked against you, it is important to remain free to fight another day. Don’t fall for the tactics of agent provocateurs who walk the fine line on this blog.

    Listen to the mistress of the house who is always more level headed. They always are when it comes to politics.

  9. No sane person would argue with the assertion that the world has far too many tyrants who between them have all but destroyed their countries and in the process brought untold misery to their people.

    Among the points the author raises (about Zimbabwe) is “…the country’s economy has tanked, agricultural production has plummeted, unemployment and food shortages have multiplied, inflation has soared and much of the country’s middle class has fled…” He might have added the huge loss of life.

    Agreed. And for this Mugabe is a tyrant. But hasn’t the same situation been created in Iraq and Afghanistan? And who is the tyrant there?

  10. This anti-American sentiment is the legacy of the Mahathir years. Today Malaysia is always mentioned in a bad light every time the opportunity comes i.e. the rogue nation that freedom loving people this side of the hemisphere would love to hate.

  11. Mongkut Bean
    US really appreciate their vets and take pains to ensure the vets are rewarded and remembered for their service to country. They have all kinds of benefits including hospitals and grants and scholarships.
    Malaysia looks down on their vets and most of them end up as taxi drivers. Taxi drivers and not even taxi permit holders. Except the few generals that are amply rewarded with chairmanship of several public companies established with funds from Lembaga Tabong Angkatan Tentera. Remember the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide and the RM 2 million cash stash in the Generals home.

    For the ordinary Malaysian soldiers here

  12. Yup, that would be Gen. Tan Sri Ibrahim. Whatever happened to the guy? Bet you the guy didn’t have time to stash his away his ‘surplus’ cash in Singapore. Which went to show how awash he was with cash. It was no secret.

    They see it as their legitimate right to make hay while the sun shines – a reward for their lifetime dedication to public service. As do all our UMNO politicians. The corporals and privates should go drive somebody elses taxis.

  13. When I started this blog in November, 2007, it was for the purpose of pushing the agenda for change. Badawi was resoundingly defeated in the March 8, 2008 General Elections in the so-called political tsunami. Most of us including pro-Mahathir bloggers wanted the man from Kepala Batas to go.

    Najib replaced him and Pakatan Rakyat has been in action for the last 3 years. But PR did not bring about any substantive change in Selangor, for example. No, it was always reacting to UMNO-BN attacks, thereby failing to honour its pledges to the rakyat. Of what relevance, for example, is the Selangor statute on Freedom of Information when the main law called OSA is not repealed. The state takeover of water management has stalled, etc. Has cronyism been eliminated? No, too. It is all politics, using race and religion by both sides of the Malaysian political divide.

    I feel that in 2011, I should now exercise discretion and change my tack. But I have never abandoned the cause of Freedom, Justice and Democracy and good governance. On these matters, I am not neutral. Reflecting on my approach in past which was direct, confrontational and often blunt, I believe that persuasion with good arguments and ideas is now a better option.At least, it is more constructive.

    I know this blog is read by very intelligent and mature people who would like to see a more balanced and responsible reporting and rational discourse. I am responding the needs of my readers and commentators. So, my blog is now a public affairs forum for exchange of views on local and international issues, economics, diplomacy, and civil society matters like the climate change, denvironment, etc. Comments from Frank, CLF, Isa Manteqi and others are welcome. –Din Merican

  14. Then again I really shouldn’t insult the lowest life form, they were created in that manner. Us humans? What excuse do we have for the atrocities against other human beings? What miserable excuse do we have? NOT A THING. NOT ONE EXCUSE . We, who were gifted the supossed rational mind, the compassionate Soul, the enduring Heart. So again I ask, What EXCUSE do we have?

  15. “Even love, isn’t hard for the heart to find. It can thrive and flourish simply on the kind of universal love that causes each flower to blossom. ” J. Cainer

  16. Dato,

    You started out well as a civil society advocate, a social activist and name your blog rather aptly as ‘The Malaysian DJ Blogger’ allowing your readers to participate in your love for music. as well. It is a breath of fresh air if I may say so. That is until you let yourself be overwhelmed by matters politically partisan.

    Your unqualified and profuse adulation almost to the point of a fault of certain characters and your ceaseless pounding at others has obviously drawn not only flak but has attracted the ire of the only elephant in the room.

    As you say times are a-changing. But the need for social justice hasn’t.

  17. Sorry Mongkut Bean, wrong General. The General in reference is still head of a Bank and many other companies under LTAT control.
    BTW Gen Tun Ibrahim Ismail passed away a few months back.
    It is difficult for PR to change anything as they only control the states while all laws and legislation are made at the Federal level. To change PR will need to control the Federal government.
    Din, in Selangor PR had to forgo their election manifesto to put out fires put on by Toyo and gang. All kinds of distraction such as Yayasan Selangor and Balkis and the water PUAS and Syabas issues. Furthermore the Selangor State Executive is hampered by the state civil service that is still indebted to the BN government. MACC is also not helping in clearing up the BN mess instead MACC has been focusing on PR reps instead of the misdeeds of the BN reps. At every turn PR is treated more like a leper than a legit government duly elected by the people of the state. BN losers are still throwing stones, sticks and abuses at all PR attempts. PR have to persevere and capture the hearts of the electorates. It’s a tall order but still achievable.

  18. Really semper?? Wrong General?

    This one has passed on? It wasn’t his Tudor style bungalow on the incline going towards the whatever-you-call those buildings that collapsed in the late ’80s that got burnt? This one is up Bkt. Antarabangsa?

    Gen Tan Sri Ibrahim has gone to meet his Maker?

  19. I am with you, semper fi. It’s a tall order. I see this happening in Perak. The federal agencies are the greatest hindrance. The civil servants will do whatever they can to thwart attempts by the Opposition government to good for the rakyat. Taking over Putrajaya is the only option.

    I wouldn’t say that Selangor is poorly managed by PR. They are doing a good job in spite of the odds.

    Yeah, Bean you picked the wrong general. Tun Ibrahim had little to show in terms of wealth. But he didn’t die a pauper either.

    The guy you’re referring to is still alive and kicking. He carries the same name as the present IGP, right to the “bin”. What a coincidence.

    His golfing flight would consist of the officers who would throw the game purely to cari makan. That’s a well known fact in those hazy days.

  20. From the very beginning PKR looks set to be nothing more than a ragtag band of political wannabes bypassed by the leadership in UMNO. I’m of course referring to the Malay leadership within PKR. There is no ideology that could be used to separate that ‘spacecraft’ from their ‘mother ship’. I did right by not allowing myself to be confused by the change in narrative.

    I think rightly or wrongly political interest of the Malays in PKR has waned. The only party genuinely for change is the DAP – for obvious reasons.

  21. He would insist that the same people appear on his flight each time we took to the links. One real buaya who refused to play to his true handicap so he could win all the time. Hasn’t change much, according to my friends. Lousy sportsmanship.

  22. The federal agencies are the greatest hindrance – Tok Cik

    All the federal agencies are under federal control – and guess who is in control of the federal government?

    Malaysia is a sad case of everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. To begin Malaysia is never a federation. It has different tiers of government. True. But the units that make up the federation are not independent to begin with, having no independent sources of revenue – no state taxes to fund the operation of the state government and will have to depend on federal grants to fund their operating expenditure.

    You don’t call that a federation. Very soon the states that are being governed by the opposition will stagnate economically. I am surprised that has yet to happen.

  23. Yup, i’ll agree that the only way to get out of the rotten mess of asinine hyper-politicization, is to overthrow the termites who breed in Putrid Jaya – though it is certainly no walk in the park.

    The opposition is forced to dodge projectile vomit and coprolites (fossilized shit) that maim and kill, like what has happened in Zimbabwe. There, they have ‘real’ ethnic tensions between the Ngeble and Shona (Mugabe’s) tribes too – while over here it is mainly manufactured to maintain Lies and obscure the truth that leads to daylight robbery, corruption and immorality.

    The Malays are at the crossroads of their very Being, a Trilemma of: who they are, what are they to do and where thence they go. They need to discern the path whether for ill or for better. Their present condition is a reflection of their utter confusion in the face of a post-modern world, without having the luxury of time to face holistically even modernity and urbanization. It is as if they were plucked from a placid, self-sufficient agrarian society and placed into computerized, industrial one that’s devoid of the traditional means of adjudication, mediation and conflict resolution. The mindset and values have to evolve in pace with the threat of globalization and gross corporatism. They have only one to two generations, before they be considered irredeemable.

    No one can be impartial in times like these. And while many of us are not enamored by the Opposition, we have little choice but to support a Change – in a macro way while leaving the micro dung heaps to putrefy organically. We have to choose politically, for that impacts our world view. What will happen cannot be foreseen, but we have to make our stand today.

  24. Btw, The Establishment are Utilitarians who believe that all instruments of Power, even if immoral or unethical – are to be used in combating their enemies. The Opposition otoh have no such illusions – they will have to battle on in the moral-ethical front, because that is the only thing that they have, that can transcend ‘hard-raw’ Power.
    Zimbabwe-nization of Malaysia? Entirely possible.

  25. Nobody expected PR to solve the manifold problems facing the country in super-quick time. But we did not expect to see the level of infighting and quarrelsome behaviour either.

    BN “attacks” that Dato alludes to were to be expected but the real blame of the woes of PR can only lie with the complete lack of leadership.

    A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity squandered…

  26. Squandered, Isa? Not by a far stretch. Change must come. Malaysia is pubescent again. We were infantile merely a decade ago, blissfully unaware – under the auspices of Octo’s ‘candu-fied’ milk-drip.

    We need a time of angst, anarchy and self-reflection before we can go forward. After all, necessity is the mother of invention – or in this case, re-invention.

    All the turbulence, adultery and insomnia, only serves to Engage a thinking mind – as surely patience and perseverance are the hallmarks of maturity. Political Leaders are by virtue, Adolescent – and tend to believe their own hubris. There are no ‘Perfect’ Leaders, only perfect followers. And that is the crux of our problem..

  27. Agreed that change must and will come. But if PR had put their heads down from the word go in 2008 we would by now have been well on the way to a credible opposition. That opportunity has now all but evaporated and the only hope left is for the individual components of PR to show what they are made of.

  28. I don’t know about the others but looking at what is happening at home from this distance, seeing what we see and knowing what we know, an apathy of sorts (you may disagree) seems to have gripped this third world nation where a regime has held on to power more through foul than fair means. They have held on to power not by the skin of their teeth but by holding on to their pants, by continued manipulation and control of the institutions of power. Guess who are in direct control of these institutions? How else do you impute liability to the master if not through the principles of respondeat superior?

    For there to be a change of the magnitude needed, it has to be cataclysmic and ground beaking like we had in 1998. The present recession serious this side of the hemisphere has left Malaysia unscathed. No large scale unemployment and massive job losses as we see over here as the struggle continues to cut spending.

    The GE2008 was more an aberration rather than a trend. It is not wrong nor inaccurate to say the regime has learned its lesson well – though they are not willing to admit it publicly – and seems to respond to the need to stop the flagrant abuse of power and so as not to sound hollow has offered a few individuals to the sacrificial altar. In a world of instantaneous communication appearance sometimes is all that is needed to stop the tide of change and convince fence sitters.

    Nobody expects PR to solve the problems in super-quick time — Isa Manteqi

    Nobody expects PR leaders to show what they do not have either. They do not have a common ideology to fall back on in times of a leadership crisis.

  29. The Malays are not at cross-roads to anything – never to the Promised Land for have they not been shown the Promised Land? And now they are walking it.

  30. Self sufficient Malays who have glimpsed their promised lands ain’t gonna come back to this Holey land. Lots of people slipping through them holes. Here you are, Bean:

    But you’re right about PR not having a common ideal/platform, except extermination of vermin with extreme prejudice. Yes, they may frisson, sizzle and rupture after their Rapture. But then, they can’t get any worse than this, my friend.

  31. Thousands of Malays have migrated to Oz, Familiaris?

    Rather inaccurate since the ‘migration’ or rather their refusal to return home, has been facilitated by the regime’s own policies and taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth. Logically they should have put shackles to prevent a phenomenon that has been long been in the making. Such as making their parents enter into a bond to ensure their return.

    If only those responsible for the policy pause to take recognition of the fact even if only after the fact. Some of them could only be making a change in their domicile without severing their roots with the old domicile. Malaysia is still a good place to live in.

  32. Malaysia is still a good place to live in. A new bubble in the property market over here has just burst. You may want to ‘migrate’ here and purchase your dream home.

  33. Bean, i already have a homestead in the Bush where the black widow spiders and kangaroos roam. There’s lots of investment opportunities over there, in Florida and the UK too. Chockful of adverts in the local English dailies. The properties locally are crap and ‘bubbly’ as this seems to be a developers paradise of ill-gotten gain.

    But as you say, here’s where my heart is and here it’ll be buried. My kids will make their own decisions. Reminds me of Zimbabwe.

  34. Swinging from tree to tree is where I like to be, and have orang hutan for company. They make better primates than their closest cousins. Are they monogamous, these primates? I know they don’t have same sex marriage.

  35. Yup, that’s home.
    Sometimes i wonder whether it’s worth the monogamy too. But like all marriages, who says they are made in heaven? There are a lot of reasons for divorce as it were, but happiness is a state of mind. We’ve to take the bad with the good and hopefully someone will see the Light and change things. Politicians are the same all over the world, but sometimes when enough personal suffering has been exacted, they do see things in a broader perspective.

    Sometimes, we must know when to cut and run, just like you. A wise decision, but tinged with some yearning. But until that time comes, we have to do what is proper, help in whatever way we can and leave the rest to God, if not country.

    A lot of the blokes in the diaspora are heretics for some reason or other. Fortunately, i still have the freedom to choose.

  36. Mongkut Bean
    Try to attend one of the Talent Corp milkrounds. One is coming to your neck of the woods. They have special programs for returning Malaysians. You only pay 15% income tax for 5 years, you get to buy 2 local CKD car. (wow I’m impressed) You get to join some old boys network and your spouse get PR and permit to work. So there you go Bean, make an application and you can be the head of Swinging Orang Utan Inc. not swingers mind you.

  37. Join some old boys network and your spouse get PR and permit to work – semper

    Missus didn’t want to give up her citizenship and thumbed her nose at Malaysian immigration and walked away. All I want is a Malaysian citizenship for my kerbau so I could ride her like Kathy rides my horse Sir Lancelot or was there a name change to Bounce-a-lot.

  38. “For there to be a change of the magnitude needed, it has to be cataclysmic and ground breaking…”

    Exactly. But more importantly, we must strive to achieve this in a manner that will maintain our all-important stability and peace. In 1957 our country achieved a near impossibility – three diverse races agreeing to share power. Now that we are at a crossroads I believe we can, once again, achieve the changes necessary in an orderly manner. No matter how great the odds, we must not lose our nerve.

  39. We must strive to do this in an orderly manner — Isa Manteqi

    Cataclysmic event, of seismic proportions, ground breaking would be the impetus to change. It is the contention of political scientists that such ‘change’ be managed if it is to lead to a transition to democracy – and not autocracy.

    The Arab Spring will provide us with the answers.

  40. To answer whether “change can be managed” we have to consider the alternative – revolution. And how many revolutions have made things better? My guess is that the current Arab Spring will change regimes but nothing else.

    Here in Malaysia we stand an excellent chance of “managing” change simply because we are stable, peaceful and not given to excessive public outbursts. It will take much longer but that is a small price to pay.

  41. Then you think it is all about “ripeness”. It is a concept in constitutional law, sorry. But ripeness is not applicable when change is desired for its own sake.

    It is like saying to the Malays, “Ready when you are”. The Malays will never be ready for anything.

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