Share power with election losers and put term limit for top post to change the political culture of ASEAN countries

I am writing for the coming Myanmar Election (a day after tomorrow on 07.11.2010) after observing Malaysia’s political scenario including opposition party election (DSAI’s PKR) and sad to compare with the recently finished USA election and US politicians’ maturity.

After Independence Burma enjoyed the democracy for a dozen of years. But infighting of PM U NU, U Ba Swe and U Kyaw Nein partly allow the General Ne Win to grasp the power. During General Ne Win’s rule, many bright potential leaders like, M.I. Tin Oo, General Tin Oo (NLD), Dr Nyi Nyi, General Aung Gyi, General Kyaw Zaw were summarily dismissed and some were put into jail. We could see the removal of General Saw Maung, S2 General Ti Oo (helicopter accident) and General Khin Nyunt etc.

In Malaysia, 5 capable Deputies were believed to remove when they dare to compete or plot to compete the former PM. In MIC, Pathmanabam, Pandithan, Subranium etc were removed because they dare to compete Sami Value. In MCA, Chua Jui Min, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, Lim Ah Lek etc were out when they lost. The culture of winners not only taking all but trying to totally kill off of the political life, social and economic status of the losers is widely practiced. So the losers have to retire from politics or jump to the opposition or need to form a new political party.

I hereby wish to state firmly that I am not implying that any one is wrong. NO ONE IS WRONG. The fault is in the system only. Because there is no TERM LIMIT, the top leader could stay forever as long as he could garner enough support from his party and elections.

Above could be understood because they are component parties of ruling coalition government. Just look at the opposition party PKR. I was sad when the whole ABIM team withdraw when they were blocked and lost in the party election. They changed support to the government. Dr Chandra Muzafa, Jeffery Kitigan, other mid level leaders and now what will happen to Zaid Ibrahim? (Update event 3 days later: Zaid: I don’t think anyone wants me now )

We all know what happen to NLD and DASSK after they won the last election. General Ne Win took over power when PM U Nu’s “Clean” faction of the AFPFL won in a landslide victory over the “Stable” faction led by U Ba Swe and U Kyaw Nyein. Here in Malaysia, after the opposition won five states in the last election, we witness political commotion immediately after the election results were announced and are still sadly continuing up to now. For all of them political fighting took the priority status over serving the people. Even the socio-economic problems were sometimes seemed to be ignored and both sides were seemed to be trying to exploit those for their political mileage.

TRUE COMPETITION spirit and just rules of USA and how the competitors were treated, not the winners take all but giving place for the talented leaders who dare to even compete with top leaders and LOST were AWARDED not like most of the other countries.

US politicians’ maturity having a sporting and gentlemen spirit is actually because of their Term Limit for the Presidency. Because of two terms 5 yrs limit, there is no need for his deputy to try to sabotage him and the President is free from constantly watching his back.

And the most important thing is the US politicians’ gentlemen behaviour of accepting the loss gracefully and immediate support given to the winners with a friendly gesture.

Most of us are stunned when Former President George Bush immediately invited the United States presidential election winner Barrack Obama to the White House for tea. We all are overwhelmed with joy when Obama and his former rival Mrs Clinton join hand to fight and win the election. When Obama offered her the Secretary of State, the two formed a competent and powerful team. Immediately after winning the election Obama, invited the opposing Republican Party leaders to work together. Now after losing some seats in the US Midterm Senate Elections 2010, John Boehner became the new Speaker of the House of Representatives immediately after the election results were announced.

Look at Obama Press Conference and Speech.  The war for the midterm elections is over and the map of the United States turned red as Democrats are one by one ousted from their position. Votes of discontent and anti-administration sentiments were registered in the ballot. When the dusk settled the Republicans took over control of the House and nearly took over the Senate as well.

The new House composition might include 192 Democrats and 243 Republicans. Democrats lost a total of 64 seats, one of the worst Democrat losses in history. The new Senate composition will now be composed of 52 Democrats and 47 Republicans, that is 7 Democrats losing seats in the Senate.

“The results of the election underscores for me that I’ve got to do a better job, just like everyone else in Washington,” said Obama. When asked about who should be blamed for the Democrat’s loss, Obama exclaimed, “As president, I take responsibility for that.”

Share power with poll losers, P.V. Indiresan in The Hindu

Our political problems are on account of a winner-takes-all electoral system. Social development will get a boost if, instead of being managed by ministers and bureaucrats, it is collectively taken care of by winning politicians and their runners-up.


The root of the problem is the way we practice democracy. Four hundred years ago, Francis Bacon argued that nothing should be accepted as true unless and until it can be verified by experiment. Our democratic experiment has evidently failed to prevent disorder in many parts of the country. Hence, by Baconian logic, our democracy has not working. Yet, we are not questioning it – in a rational scientific way. That is why we are in trouble.

Worse still, all the votes polled by the opposition are set to zero. The winner gets a munificent prize – power, glamour and these days, even lots of white money; the loser gets nothing but the stigma of failure. Then, should we be surprised if many losers are frustrated, or if they consider the system to be unfair? They may think that they are entitled to use unfair means to overthrow the government.

When in sport, the runner-up (at times even the person who comes third) is honoured publicly, why should we not do the same in politics, too? You cannot expect politicians to struggle for years, ingratiate themselves with hangers-on of top politicians, spend huge amounts of (black) money — and yet accept defeat gracefully. Can we change this unfairness? Why not give the loser a smaller share of what the winner gets? In sports, the winner has a monopoly over the championship but shares the prize money. In politics, the equivalent of championship victory is a seat in the legislature. Except for that, why should top-loser politicians not get a share in whatever the winners get?

Power is concentrated among ministers and in the bureaucracy. This system has failed in social development. It had failed in economic development, when power was concentrated among ministers and the bureaucracy. Why should we not decentralise social development and leave it to legislators and their important competitors?

Naturally, those in authority will resist relinquishing their power. Actually, the power ministers and bureaucrats wield is all about headaches and less about authority. What pleasure can one get running decrepit schools, hospitals, habitats and the like? Will ministers and bureaucrats not be better off, when they oversee and not manage the nitty-gritty of these institutions?

The government should consider decentralising the control of social institutions and confine itself to establishing and monitoring standards of performance. It should hand over the control of social development to legislators and also let the losers (the second or even the third) share that responsibility.


Let schools, hospitals and habitats in each constituency be managed by a committee of, say, seven, comprising the legislator as chairperson (who also nominates three others), two from the party which comes second, and the person who comes third in the election. Can we decentralise even further — make the winner in the local polling booth(s) the chairperson?

Politicians — winners and losers — will have responsibilities to discharge; they will have to become more responsible. In particular, loser politicians cannot hope to achieve popularity by burning buses and schools.

Corruption? That is unlikely, with three well-informed competitors fighting the same tiny market. People will also demand that they provide better buses and better schools. We will have real competition.

Today, by taking an all-party delegation to Kashmir, the government is sharing power and glamour, too. Would that have been necessary if it had let opposition politicians share a little of the power the government wields? All this does not need any amendment of the Constitution; it needs only a change in political culture – any chief minister can do it and introduce true democracy!

(This is 286th in the Vision 2020 series. The previous article appeared on September 6.)

(The author is a former Director, IIT, Madras. Responses to and blfeedback@

May be I need to refer to my earlier posting, “Hare Vs Tortoise Race Version 4.3”

Our modern story still continues with the version 4…

The two famous competitors now become good friends appreciating each other’s talents and special expertise.

They know their historically famous fable and wish to achieve a new height in glamour as the celebrities or icons by teaching the best lesson not only for the children but for the adults also.

They do some brainstorming together not as the opponents but as co-partners or team players. Both of them aim to stage the best stage-show on the world theatre with their last race that could be remembered for ever as a model best lesson for the whole world. So they discuss and plan to work together as a team to achieve the best world record.

The race starts with the hare carrying the tortoise on its back up to the riverbank. Then the tortoise takes over the leading role by carrying the hare on his back and swims across the river.

Once landed on the opposite bank, the hare takes his turn by carrying his partner tortoise and rushes to their ultimate designated point.

They both felt the ultimate pleasure and success with their combined team work achievement than their earlier races.

The lessons deducted from this version of the story:

Individual expertise and skills are good.

But the communicating skills and ability to work in a team spirit could yield better results.

Good leadership skill will be the icing on the cake.

Further lessons from this version 4 are_

Both of them never gave up after failures.

They never just compete again without analyzing the cause of their failures and both of them plan out the new strategy for the repeat competition.

In the real life scenario, when we fails, we need more than just working harder and putting in more blind efforts but needs to change strategy and try something different.

And the most important lesson is to stop wasting our resources by just jealously competing against a rival, co-workers, classmates, siblings, family members and neighbours etc and think about a team work to perform against a PROBLEM, the situation or destination and achieve the best for all.

And as the summary, I wish to advise my friends to read the following article / research report.

Power-sharing, Agency and Civil Conflict, Power-sharing Agreements, Negotiations and Peace Processes

Executive Summary

Power-sharing arrangements aim to reduce the risk of civil conflict by guaranteeing potentially warring parties a role in a country’s government, thus lessening the stakes of political contestation. In this way, power-sharing reduces the risk that spoilers will resort to violence if they do not succeed in the process of democratic electoral contestation. While power-sharing can reduce the incentive of electoral losers to renege on their commitment to democracy, we argue that this depends on the nature of the relevant groups, as well as on the political institutions that are chosen. The degree to which power-sharing agreements are able to promote civil peace thus depends in part on the relative military capacity of the fighting parties, as well as on the potential role of ‘spoilers’. The ideal environment for power-sharing to shape peace is when the sides are evenly balanced and the costs of war are relatively high. In contrast, when groups are less evenly matched and the costs of war low, power-sharing implies non-proportional distributions of power and positive incentives for spoilers. Under such conditions, power-sharing may increase rather than reduce the risk of civil conflict.

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2 Responses to “Share power with election losers and put term limit for top post to change the political culture of ASEAN countries”

  1. Devi Says:

    All lettered Burmese, including prominent one like you, are invited to participate in this noble campaign.
    Together, we all can get out of the lan_bay status which we don’t deserve it.
    Defeat evil ethnic-cleansing project of thug shwe

    here you go –

  2. Anwar is trying to surf with the tidal wave of Aung San Suu Kyi « Dr Ko Ko Gyi’s Blog Says:

    […] The problem here is that “Anwar’s personal case” is very different (Star’s slanting Political point of view) from Suu Kyi’s, and Malaysia’s political landscape has little in common with Myanmar’s. (Kindly read my FAIR views here_Share power with election losers and put term limit for top post to change the political culture of ASEAN countries @… ) […]

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