Nurturing Malaysian Democracy

By | November 1, 2017

For a very long time, Malaysian politics has been centred on a strong government and a weak opposition. The only time when there was ever a serious threat to the ruling regime’s hegemony was in 1969, when several opposition parties went on the offensive. However, they were severely harmed by victory parades that went awry, and by the violence that ensued from a government counter-rally.

Malaysians often don’t treat the opposition seriously. The opposition is viewed, to this day, as a group that cannot be taken seriously. Even though in this pseudo-democracy, there is a very strong need for a viable opposition to the ruling regime, Malaysians don’t vote for the opposition. About 40% of the electorate consistently support the opposition, but because of gerrymandering, the opposition rarely controls more than a fourth of Parliamentary seats.

If Malaysians want their country to prosper and advance, they must recognise the need for a stronger democratic system. Democracy and development are commensurate. Where there is no democracy, no transparency, no accountability, corruption and tyranny flourish. Witness how things have gone in other pseudo-democracies like the Philippines or Thailand.

Yet, at the same time, democracy in Malaysia is hampered by the weak opposition. The opposition harps on human rights issues, as traditional democrats might, but the fact is that bread and butter issues are the only ones that truly matter.

After all, what was the cause of the American Revolution? It was not a belief that all men are created equal, or that liberty was an ideal end in itself, although these are certainly founding principles of the modern United States. The American Revolution came about because of one thing: taxes. One of the defining events of the Revolution was the Boston Tea Party, where in protest against taxes on tea, patriots dumped crates of tea into the harbour.

Democracy exists not to preserve human rights or civil rights, but to preserve prosperity. It is just incidental that prosperity requires liberty to exist.

For democracy to grow and develop in Malaysia, the opposition parties must understand that they too, like the first American fighters for democracy, must focus on bread and butter issues. The people will be most inflamed with passion over the issues that matter to them. What are these issues? Education. Taxes. Public transportation. Town planning. Economic development.

Democracy is, when you come down to basics, not about rights or liberties, although those are concepts tightly tied to democracy. Democracy is simply about letting market forces – the will of the people – drive the country and its society towards an end that is more efficient, more prosperous. For democracy to grow in Malaysia, there has to be an understanding of this basic principle.

John Lee Ming Keong is a Malaysian student. He is avidly interested in politics, society, and economics. He hopes to be able to make a difference through his writings, and bring about change and reform in society. His website is Infernal Ramblings: A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics.


Product Description

Honeybees make decisions collectively--and democratically. Every year, faced with the life-or-death problem of choosing and traveling to a new home, honeybees stake everything on a process that includes collective fact-finding, vigorous debate, and consensus building. In fact, as world-renowned animal behaviorist Thomas Seeley reveals, these incredible insects have much to teach us when it comes to collective wisdom and effective decision making. A remarkable and richly illustrated account of scientific discovery, Honeybee Democracy brings together, for the first time, decades of Seeley's pioneering research to tell the amazing story of house hunting and democratic debate among the honeybees.


In the late spring and early summer, as a bee colony becomes overcrowded, a third of the hive stays behind and rears a new queen, while a swarm of thousands departs with the old queen to produce a daughter colony. Seeley describes how these bees evaluate potential nest sites, advertise their discoveries to one another, engage in open deliberation, choose a final site, and navigate together--as a swirling cloud of bees--to their new home. Seeley investigates how evolution has honed the decision-making methods of honeybees over millions of years, and he considers similarities between the ways that bee swarms and primate brains process information. He concludes that what works well for bees can also work well for people: any decision-making group should consist of individuals with shared interests and mutual respect, a leader's influence should be minimized, debate should be relied upon, diverse solutions should be sought, and the majority should be counted on for a dependable resolution.


An impressive exploration of animal behavior, Honeybee Democracy shows that decision-making groups, whether honeybee or human, can be smarter than even the smartest individuals in them.

Price: $19.96
  • Princeton University Press

3 thoughts on “Nurturing Malaysian Democracy

  1. user2947

    5 of 5 people found the following review helpful

    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Astounding insight into honey bee behavior for the ., July 2, 2014

    By Marcus W. (Edmond, OK USA) –

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    This review is from: Honeybee Democracy (Kindle Edition)

    Astounding research from decades of painstaking observation and research. Excellently written commentary on bees and their behavior. The extrapolation of honeybee democracy to the human condition in the last part is interesting, well written and thought provoking. Seeley has followed (literally) and observed bees intently for decades and this book shares the rich and subtle wisdom only informed observation can yield.

    The best of this book is the first part dealing with the world-class natural science that Seeley et al have done on honey bee behavior and their informed speculation on the implied meanings of these behaviors. This book’s bee behavior portion deserves a second read because it is PACKED with information and insight into the subtle interrelationships between genetics, instinct, behaviors and their implications. The insight into the honey bee caste system and it’s management is like reading the best science fiction – it is genetically driven but involves the personal effort of each bee to fulfill it’s destiny.

    This is one of the best books on natural history I have read in years, written so the non-scientist can devour and understand the content, but fully complete in it’s scope. As to popular science for the layman, Seeley is right up there with the very best of Jane Goodall, Richard Feynman, Michio Kaku, and Neil Degrasse-Tyson, in my opinion. A must read for bee keepers.

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  2. user3564

    71 of 73 people found the following review helpful

    5.0 out of 5 stars
    This is a remarkable book! Layperson or bee expert, buy this book! Fascinating!, November 2, 2010

    By Robert MacKimmie (San Francisco, CA USA) –

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    This review is from: Honeybee Democracy (Hardcover)

    Not only is the research completely sound and refreshing, the graphic representation of compelling information is truly revelatory.

    If you are going to be shipwrecked on an island, even if that island has no honeybees, you should take this one book. It just seems that Thomas Seeley has compiled a most fascinating explanation of one of the bees’ most curious and intelligent behaviors – and the graphic illustration and charts lend insight in clean, straight-forward, “ahh-hah” kind of ways, less understandable until now given the new, brilliant and powerfully simple conveyance.

    The Epilogue should be read first because it provides the most fitting setup: Martin Lindauer observed a clustered swarm of bees on a bush and noticed that the waggle-dancing bees were covered in black soot, red brick dust and grey soil. Calling them dirty dancers, a multiple of them were obviously attempting to convince others regarding the merits of a nearby chimney. That started his research into bee group decision making, and thus, Thomas Seeley’s remarkable treatise on the subject.

    This would be a fascinating coffee table book, with insighful information for any curious book-flipper. For seasoned beekeepers, the photos, illustrations and information presented solidifies and exemplifies many of the things that we already know. Best example: on page 38, Figure 2.12 is a photo illustrating the underside of some house bees and shows how the wax chips are produced from the abdomens of the worker bees. I know this but had never seen it before. To see the photos is to gain much deeper understanding, and that quality of knowledge shared is represented throughout the entire book.

    As an informational tome, this book is beautiful, fascinating, timely, informative, curious, insightfully supportive, educational and moves what we know forward in terms of an improved general understanding of the bees’ intricate and remarkable intelligence.

    Thank you Thomas Seeley, your illustrator, your graduate and undergraduate research students. I feel like a more comprehensive beekeeper by the richer understanding that your work has provided. It’s a terrific book for the lay person and experienced beekeeper alike. Beautiful and fascinating!

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  3. user4118

    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful

    5.0 out of 5 stars
    We learn from honeybees when learning about them, May 3, 2017

    By Sawman (San Antonio) –

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    This review is from: Honeybee Democracy (Kindle Edition)

    This is a most informative lesson on The who, what, how, and why of swarming. Superbly annotated, a scholarly subject written in concise, yet understandable terms for the ordinary beekeeper. It helped me immensely, and now maybe I can collect a few swarms instead of just losing them.

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