Dictatorship is preferable to democracies that fail to deliver, Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said today.
“Having a non-democratic country can also give the people a good life, although once in a while they have to shoot the corrupt people, he said.”
“Malaysia is said to have been ruled by a dictator for 22 years – I enjoyed it – but at least I think it has made some progress.”
China had demonstrated the benefits of authoritarianism, he said. There is a global contest between liberal democracy and the Beijing consensus, he suggested, arguing that “in the long run, the latter might win.”
“Democracy has failed in many countries,” Mahathir claimed. “They have failed to deliver what they have promised.”
“We might lose our voice, we might not be able to vote perhaps, but if we can find good leaders to run the country – even dictators can help a country develop very well,” he said. “There is no democracy in China, but if you look at its progress and even the people, the system of government that they have can actually bring a lot of benefits.”
A recent analysis warned that the appeal of China’s developmental authoritarianism is one of the two main factors impeding democratization in Asia.
His remarks are a stark rejoinder to President Barack Obama’s recent assertion that “democracy, more than any other form of government, delivers for our citizens.”
In his recent speech to the UN General Assembly, he argued that “experience shows us that history is on the side of liberty [and] that the strongest foundation for human progress lies in open economies, open societies, and open governments.”
Mahathir has a track record of anti-democratic (and conspiratorial) sentiment, having been a forceful advocate of the largely-discredited “Asian Values” argument that the region was culturally predisposed towards authoritarian politics.