Egypt: A memo to dictators everywhere

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After what’s been happening in Egypt, I thought I would draft a memo to dictators and authoritarian leaders around the world to give them some free and unsolicited advice.

Inspiring photo of the day: Egyptian Christians protecting fellow Muslim protesters who were praying at Tahrir Square earlier today - Photo credit: ShawkattRaghib via twitter

Dear Mr Dictator/Authoritarian Leader

Recent events in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and elsewhere must be giving you sleepless nights or making you feel terribly uneasy.

May I offer a few tips so that you don’t see similar eruptions in your own countries:

Do not suppress dissent

Allow your people sufficient avenues and outlets to express their frustrations, anger, complaints and criticism. You don’t want their anger and frustration to be pent up. Think of these avenues as built-in safety valves. In this respect, free media and a functioning Parliament have a big role to play. Don’t forget to free up the state-run media as well. Get rid of all repressive laws, especially detention without trial, and bring back democracy quickly before it’s too late. Liberate your people!

Improve the professionalism and integrity of the police and their understanding of human rights

This will in turn result in increased respect for the police among the general public. The police will then be seen as protectors of the people rather than brutal thugs of your hated regime for whom torture is the norm.

Strengthen the credibility and independence of institutions of governance

Restore your people’s faith in the judiciary, the anti-corruption agency, the election commission. Ensure that elections are credible and not rigged or gerrymandered.

Don’t stay too long

A couple of terms at the most. For goodness sake, don’t stay on… and on…. and on… for 15, 20, 30 years.

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Don’t rely on superpowers to prop up your regime through military aid, for God’s sake, do not cooperate with their evil ‘rendition’ practices.

It’s better to leave gracefully before you have outlived your welcome than to stay on too long and risk being unceremoniously booted out.

Don’t try and set up a political dynasty and oh, cut the gravy train from your cronies and family members

If there’s one thing that disgusts most people, it’s when your spouse, family members and cronies try to project themselves or benefit from your position either through business deals or political positions.

Stamp out corruption and illicit financial outflows. Investigate these outflows and bring back the country’s stolen wealth.

Don’t be fooled by praise of your country’s economy

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by glowing figures for FDI and GDP growth rates and by praise by international financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF. Remember Egypt and Tunisia were regarded as economic miracles. The World Bank had only last year hailed Egypt as a “top global performer” for ‘Doing Business’. Egypt also had impressive FDI and GDP growth rates.

Instead, look at your Gini coefficient (a measure of income inequality), the real poverty rate (based on a more realistic poverty line) and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few.

Don’t be fooled by the CPI-based inflation rate. The lower-income group are more seriously affected by higher food and transport costs. Look into improving food self-sufficiency and food security to reduce the impact of soaring global food prices. A hungry population makes for an easily dissatisfied populace.

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Dump your neo-liberal policies

These tend to enrich a small minority and will aggravate the gap between the rich and the poor. Stop the privatisation of profits to cronies and the socialisation of losses. Quit providing subsidies to vested business interests while cutting subsidies to those who need them most.

Look into a more progressive tax system.

Restructure your economy to really benefit the vast majority of the people and reduce income inequalities through people-centred development rather than corporate-led development.

Set up strong social safety nets

Step up the provision of affordable education, housing, health care. Introduce a liveable minimum wage so that no worker needs to struggle to make ends meet. Strengthen workers’ right and allow more freedom for trade unions to protect the interests of the working class.

Forget about suppressing new media to control information flow

One way or another, the news will get out. When Egypt shut down the Internet, people could not use blogs, Facebook and twitter. But satellite television beamed the latest news from Liberation Square into their living rooms and filled in the gaps.

That’s it for now. Enough for you to chew on. Think about it.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. “We must be sincere and accept that the country is Tanah Melayu.”
    A rhetoric of opportunist racist babble?

    Let me ask you mad-M…:
    Do you desire (deep in your … gutless heart) that this beautiful land of peaceful Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian, Sakai, Penans, Bajaus and others of cultural diversity (destroy) itself…? Do you, having squandered the national coffers beyond your wildest dream, now with the financial means to escape like a coward anytime in case of trouble, now as irresponsible opportunist dare to speak/false-champion the vilest of racist taunts…?

    SHAME ON YOU, MAD-M….

    Anil, may I sincerely add this one for us all to chew on, think about, accept and practice it daily in Malaysia (not Malay-sia):
    All You Need Is LOVE.

  2. this … stupid M… should be (punished) for taking Malaysia backward instead of forward, he is a total ….

  3. Sadam was caught and put on trial. The same should happen to Mubaraq and any leaders who are corrupted.Smoke them out from any holes they are hiding in and put them on trial. (Penalise) them if they have cheated the people.

  4. Mubaraq’s wealth is estimated to be in US billions. How about all his corrupted ministers? His (Egypt’s) people are mostly destitutes and beggars roaming the streets looking for food. The US wants Mubaraq to remain. Don’t you think this is STUPID? Name any leader in that region, he and his wife will be CORRUPTED.We have many more of this kind in many parts of the world.

    Do we want this to happen or let this to happen in our country? The people should be aware of this. Vote for a change. The sooner the better. When leaders are corrupted they should be toppled.

  5. Hi People of Malaysia,

    We should … get rid of the all BN and UMNO…!!!!

    … You stupid fools you put the BN and UMNO … into power…

  6. Anil, you are spot on. Close to home, your memo should be directed to the pek moh of Swak. Haha.

  7. If you believe this is about authoritharianism, you are naive. Its about the failure to deliver and authoritharianism is just a natural part of Egypt and Tunisia mean of doing that that has failed.

  8. Tyranny requires:
    1. The refuge in super-capitalist banks and their hypocritcal host countries for the ill-gotten wealth of puppet tyrants.
    2. The promotion (and acceptance) of fate, after-life, diffidence and privilege, demoralization, and fear.
    3. Entrenching dogma and demonising those who question.

  9. Jan Palach — Czechoslovakia, 1969
    Mohd Bouazizi — Tunisia, 2010

    Your sacrifices were not in vain. Rest In Peace.

  10. Such kind of protest does not happen here in Malaysia because everyone is not united: Malay/Muslims are divided between UMNO on one hand and PAS/PKR on the other; the Non malays are equally divided (say between Chinese that seem to trenchantly support opposition whereas Indian voters are swinging back to BN). Even amongst (say) the Chinese, their votes are split 3 ways between DAP, MCA & Gerakan with DAP holding most, which itself alienates other races from supporting the DAP! Even within Chinese based parties within BN there’s disunity. Chua Soi Lek is not only attacked by DAP’s Kit for lying about Chinese support, he is also attacked by his own party’s Ong Tee Keat for being ‘immoral’. Within PKR there are further disunities (the latest N. Gobalakrishnan) leading to many defections. East Malaysians are also not united with West Malaysians. The latter not only can’t go there to work because of the 20 & 18 point agreements but politically they are not happy with West Malaysian political dominance. It happens even in Opposition front in the case of PKR Sabah. Whereas West Malaysian urban constituencies look at governance issues, the rural ones in both Semenanjong & East Malaysia are still impressed with the lollies and developmental funding distributed out by BN in form of largesse during election. There lies another divide in what is important when vote is given!

    All these disunities play well into the ruling coalition’s divide and rule strategy. They don’t even worry that much that we would protest in Merdeka square because they know that the Chinese would not protest in the streets, so they need not manage the disaffected amongst Malays and Indians.

    The ruling coalition has devised the most sophisticated patronage system (both financial benefits and positions) probably ion the world. It could harness the national wealth, fund their election campaigns, provide a cover for political corruption, benefit all those holding key institutions to do their bidding and yet at the same time provide financial benefits to voters in exchange for electoral support. They control media, security apparatus and most other institutions of the state.

    BN are savvy in this political game way ahead of the Opposition finding insumountable challenges in its aspiration to get to Putrajaya…

  11. Tun Apanama is very worried now.

    He is holding his ‘Tanah Melayu’ conference (not open to non-malays, even reporters) to deflect the malay’s attention away from Egypt.

    A day will come when the malays are tired of the umno’s rhetoric, or when bn has exhausted all it money from Petronas to satisfy the malays. A uprising is coming and Tun Apanama (appears to be) directing the malays’ anger towards the Chinese…

  12. A lucky break for the retired senile old…!! Or, he may end up drowning his sorrows with beer in his family brewery.
    Has the outflow of the “illicit capitals” (… ill gotten wealth of corrupted politicians?) in anticipation their gravy train is reaching a dead end.

  13. This is also a muslim country same as those countries in a shamble and doubtless it will join rank with them soon very soon.

  14. macamni la bro. tak payah nak hipokrit.

    pelajar malaysia di mesir ni kebanyakannya penyokong pas. disinilah pengkaderan pas bermula.

    hari ini mesir bermasalah. jadi yang bertanggungjawap untuk selamatkan mereka adalah kerajaan umno.

    artikel aku mudah. aku minta bloger-bloger tak payah malu dan segan untuk sebut dalam setiap artikel bahawa yang menyelamatkan tengkok dorang ni adalah umno. sebut je.

    bukan angkuh. adakala kena tunjal jugak kepala … berotak sempit ni.

    MISI SELAMATKAN TENGOK PENYOKONG PAS INI ADALAH IHSAN DARI KERAJAAN UMNO. KLIK SINI

    Posted by GAP KEMBALI at 3:09 AM 1 comments

    • You are such a moron. The students are sponsored by the gov’t with Msian tax payers’ money, not umno’s money. When they are in trapped now, every msian regardless of political affiliation are the responsibilty of msian gov’t and to be rescued by the gov’t when required. Any rescue mission are paid for by msian tax-payers, not umno.

  15. Just cant wait for this to happen in Malaysia….

    But dont know if Malaysians have the same guts as the Arabs…..

  16. Listen to the voice of the minorities. The majority should not show their arrogance when it comes to the grievances of minorities. Treat all citizens as equal. Suppression of religions of the minorities is wrong. Using the government-controlled media to favour the ruling government and distorting matters to condemn the opposition is dangerous. Clamping on the Internet and freedom of speech and expression is equally dangerous. Give the opposition equal opportunities to have access to the people. The police, the judiciary and the anti-corruption agency should be fair to all – citizens, the opposition and the government. These are not tools to be used to nail down the opposition.

    • Tun M was smart to ‘retire’ after 22 years as PM as he knew such uprising will happen if he had continued as PM. He is also smart to work ‘behind the scene’ to orchestrate his racist matters like a Tok Dalang. His Tanah Melayu conference is a good example to instigate the malays, making the non-malays the bogeyman.

      He said: “This country belongs to the Malay race. Peninsular Malaysia was known as Tanah Melayu but this cannot be said because it will be considered racist. We must be sincere and accept that the country is Tanah Melayu,”.

      Strangely he is a mamak…

      However, some some stroke of definition, he is now considered a malay, just like Ridhuan Tee. So is Sejarah Tanah Melayu that did not take into account the civilization before the Hindu Prince set up Melaka.

    • Anil Netto must be very smart.

      He can see things that other people can’t.

      Like he can write a “memo” warning dictators everywhere.

      As if the post-Mubarak Egypt gonna be better than the current one.

      As if the lesson learnt from Iran is not enough.

      Anil Netto is indeed too smart for his own good.

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