Has Democracy Now Become A Disease?

ByHaidar Bajrai

I would like to start a lively discussion regarding the current state of democracy and the challenges it faces. It is clear that democracy, once hailed as an ideal form of governance,  is going through a rough patch. While free speech has been a fundamental notion, we must recognise that without a solid core value, democracy has become ill in its pursuit of this very freedom.

Democracy’s fundamental ideas include equality, fairness, transparency, and the protection of individual rights. Without a solid basis for these values, democracy becomes prone to manipulation.

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Freedom of expression, an essential component of democracy, allows people to express their ideas, opinions, and criticism. It encourages free dialogue, but it also allows any new movement or concept to rise to popularity, regardless of its merits or consequences. In the absence of a strong core value system, freedom of speech can increase the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and extremist ideologies. While this may not be our biggest issue in Malaysia right now, it will be one day, and we must address it promptly.

Political parties, for example, such as PAS, may strive to dominate power by dominating the media. This allows them to shape the narrative through positive coverage, biased reporting, or even the suppression of other ideas. They may employ framing strategies to present topics or events in ways that are consistent with their ideology or goals to manipulate public perception in their favour.

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The rise of populism and opportunism is an alarming consequence of this ailment. Populist leaders and opportunistic movements skillfully manipulate the freedom of speech to appeal to the emotions and grievances of the masses, often at the expense of democratic institutions and social cohesion. By leveraging the flaws within the system, they exploit democratic principles for personal gain, eroding the stability and long-term sustainability of democracy itself.

Those who oppose LGBTQ+ rights frequently base their arguments on religious backgrounds. Some common arguments include the moral wrongness of same-sex relationships, citing religious teachings that condemn homosexuality, and protecting gender norms and traditional family structures. Although the notion (LGBTQ) has been around for decades, the movement has taken root in recent years as a result of the community’s openness and acceptance. Without a doubt, moral acceptance has grown over time, but from a religious standpoint, what is wrong is wrong.

For us to fix this problem, we must reaffirm and strengthen democracy’s core values. Democracy should not just be a platform for any concept or movement, it should be based on a shared commitment to justice, equality, and the protection of individual rights. A solid moral foundation can serve as a shield against the abuse of democratic values, ensuring that freedom of expression is used responsibly and in the best interests of society.

What is important to remember is that people’s perceptions of what is right and wrong may vary and can be subjective at times due to cultural, societal, and personal beliefs. While there may be differences of opinion on certain moral or ethical issues, it is critical to engage in open and respectful discussion to enhance understanding and bridge perspectives.

When functioning properly, democracy can promote political stability, safeguard individual freedoms, and foster societal progress. The issues we face today require thoughtful thinking and effective measures to address inequalities and enhance transparency and accountability. Of course, there are flaws in the system, but let us work together to build a more dynamic, inclusive system—one that truly reflects the will of the people and safeguards the values we hold dear.

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