KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia had better institutions for checks and balances and also better freedom in its “early years” when the so-called “elites” were at the forefront, Tunku Zain Al-Abidin Muhriz said today.
Replying to criticism against the “elites”, the founding president of libertarian think-tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) said there needs to be a recognition that not all from the class affect Malaysia’s democracy and institutions.
“In our early years, when the so called elites where by and large leading the country, we had better institutions and freedom,” he said at a conference on democracy in Southeast Asia here today, but did not elaborate.
The IDEAS president is also the second prince of the Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz Munawir.
“I think elites or families of elites have a stake in democracy as well,” he said, responding to a participant who pointed out that he belongs to the “elite” class, despite discussing democracy.
“It is very important to identify the elites who abuse the instruments and machinery of the state to enrich themselves, and those who don’t,” he added.
He also stressed that there was no correlation between the rule of the elites and the quality of leadership in the country.
Tunku Zain al-Abidin was speaking at a two-day conference titled “Democracy in South-east Asia: Achievements, Challenges and Prospects” featuring a host of other prominent world leaders, including former prime minister of Belgium Yves Leterme and former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
– Malay Mail