Unaccountable leaders can never deliver 'good' governance

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 February, 2010, 12:00am

Alex Lo is right to note that democracy is a concept with numerous connotations ('Unbalanced minds', January 28) and Western nations can learn much from the willingness of pre-1980s-born Chinese people to work towards a desirable future without an overbearing sense of entitlement.

However, Lo has made an inaccurate and prejudiced attempt to discredit any idea that is remotely 'Western', built upon clich? and stereotype. He denies the great diversity of Western thought. 'Western' is not a synonym for 'American neoconservative'. There are about 40 Western countries.

They do not form a united political and cultural entity obsessed with 'neo-liberalism, unfettered capitalism and the instant universal applicability of Western-style democracy', as Lo suggests. Further, it is not the Westerners calling for democratic principles who have 'lost touch with their own traditions'. It is those Westerners who have gladly sold them to gain political and financial favour who have political Alzheimer's. As a member of several think tanks with a focus on world futures, I can assure Lo that many, probably most, intellectuals in Western countries find the kind of values that he mentions to be undesirable or downright destructive.

Lo suggests that Chinese people want 'good governance', but not democracy. How can a nation that has no independent judiciary, and which has an unaccountable leadership that 'elects' itself behind closed doors every four years, be 'good'? How can a system that allows unfettered collusion between local government and big business to take a stranglehold on society and the economy enable moral governance?

Can one truly 'prosper' in the long term in a society that criminalises critique of the system? In case Lo hasn't noticed, China has now adopted rampant capitalism without due respect for human rights, including the right to have a say in the future of the nation. Is such a system sustainable?

Finally, Lo finds that Chinese people with democratic ideals have adopted 'a set of one-size-fits-all conceptual labels that crowd out critical thinking itself'.

Strangely, I have yet to note the development of much critical thinking among the pro-Beijing politicians and 'thinkers' in Hong Kong.

Indeed, their very ideology is premised upon the giving away of personal power, responsibility and moral sense to a distant leadership.

I look forward to being shown to be wrong, when the next pro-Beijing legislator stands up and challenges any major policy sent down the line from their political masters.

It is true that some Western thinking about China is unbalanced.

Yet the same criticism has to be made of Beijing's concept of 'scientific development', which is stripping a generation of psychological and spiritual development in the name of stability, conformity and a hyper-materialistic notion of 'prosperity'.

Marcus T. Anthony, Discovery Bay