Indonesia and Malaysia

bq. In con­trast to Indone­sia, where real democ­ra­cy took root after the oust­ing of Suhar­to, post-Mahathir Malaysia has kept a sys­tem of author­i­tar­i­an rule cloaked in demo­c­ra­t­ic trap­pings and reliant for its legit­i­ma­cy on per­pet­u­al eco­nom­ic growth. Like the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist par­ty, Umno fears noth­ing­so much as eco­nom­ic reces­sion. As far as his Umno col­leagues are con­cerned, Mr Abdul­lah’s unglam­orous task is not to fight cor­rup­tion or pro­mote reform, but to ensure reces­sion nev­er hap­pens. “Finan­cial Times”: Avoid­ing reces­sion is a sysiphean task in a matur­ing econ­o­my like Malaysi­a’s. Reces­sions at some point errupt from the busi­ness cycle because …  um… well, there’s still no set­tled expla­na­tion. But it’s a safe bet. I hope Vic­tor Mal­let is right about Indone­sia. The jury is still out, debat­ing the future role of the PKI.

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