Safeguarding national sovereignty through participatory democracy

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Can we call ourselves a sovereign nation when negotiations for the neoliberal Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement have been kept secret from the rakyat, asks Ronald Benjamin.

TPP negotiations are being conducted in secret - Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
TPP negotiations are being conducted in secret – Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

There have been many statements in the mainstream media about the risk to the national sovereignty of Malaysia if Pakatan Rakyat comes to power.

According to Prime Minister Najib Razak, the country would lose its national sovereignty in three years if Pakatan comes to power. While the issue of whether Pakatan will protect national sovereignty is a matter of concern, the fundamental question is whether the current model of national sovereignty propagated by Umno and intellectuals aligned to it is holistic and meets the criteria of objective truth and common good.

Can a country be truly independent when its economic model is basically in tune to the neoliberal model that privatises essential services such as healthcare and education? Can we call ourselves a sovereign nation when negotiations for Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement under the neoliberal model have been kept secret from the rakyat?

According to observers of these negotiations, foreign companies could take governments to court if their profitability is affected by government regulatory policies in areas such as healthcare.

Therefore national sovereignty should not be narrowed down to merely foreign funding or the rejection of foreign troops. It should also take into consideration factors of internal and external social order that go against common good. This requires a model of grassroots multi-ethnic participatory democracy that is the antithesis of the elitist ethno-religious notion of sovereignty propagated by Umno.

Ronald Benjamin, an Aliran member, is a human resources practitioner based in Ipoh.

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