(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): We have just bid good bye to 1998, which has been a dreadful year for Malaysia, plunging the country from one of the high-growth "Miracle" Tiger economies to be one of the 36 countries in the world which would faced negative growth
In less than a year's time, the new millennium of the 21st century will begin. Are Malaysians prepared for the new millennium? Whose millennium would it be - a handful of the wealthy, strong and powerful or the majority of the people whether in Malaysia or the world?
The 1998 Human Development Report published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) presents a very sombre global picture about increasing inequality in the run-up to the new millennium.
It reported that thanks to privatisation and globalisation, the world’s 225 richest people have among them an annual income of the world’s poorest 47 per cent of 2.6 billion poorest people.
The quest for equality, justice, freedom and good governance, whether nationally and internationally, remain the distinctive goal of social democracy.
It is most apt that Hew Kuan Yaw, DAP Assistant National Publicity Secretary and DAPSY Director of Political Bureau, has come out with his second book, "The Red Rose Revolution", where he discusses "The Third Way" in Europe to find a new interpretation of social democracy relevant to today’s society.
The European experience should be interesting and relevant not only to Malaysia but the rest of the world, how to modernize social democracy and make it electorally viable, to strike out on a new road between neo-liberalism and old-style social democracy.
The European experiment with "The Third Way" is particularly interesting not only because of the renaissance of the new left in Europe, where social democrats are now in office in 13 of the 15 countries making up the European Union, but also the inauguration of a common single European currency, the Euro, at the beginning of this year, bringing together eleven of the European Union members, with a population of 291 million, which is one of the largest exporters in the world with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which comes close to that of the United States.
I hope that Kuan Yaw’s book can lead to a debate not only about "The Third Way" but also how to promote the ideas of social democracy in Malaysia and ASEAN.
In this connection, it is very disappointing that in Singapore, the PAP Government has shown no inclination to provide more democratic space to her citizens. Singapore opposition leader Chee Soon Juan has been arrested and charged in court for giving a political talk without an official permit.
DAP calls on the Singapore PAP Government to stop its political persecution of Chee Soon Juan, drop all charges against him and open up greater democratic space to allow for freedom of speech, expression and assembly.