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Places to Intervene in the Malaysian Political System

Places to Intervene in the Malaysian Political System

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Published by Alwyn Lau
The quick chart attempts to apply Donella Meadows’ model to the Malaysian socio-political system, especially in the context of political injustice, oppression, etc. Tentative (pseudo-)conclusions from applying Meadows’ study to Malaysian politics include:

a) It may not be best to focus on political variables like ISA detention figures as a means of changing the entire system; rather it may help to work at leverage-points which have greater impact to the system
b) Leverage-point no.4, the capacity for self-organisation, is something political parties can ‘work on’ and excel at over vis-à-vis their opponents
c) Leverage-point no.3 and no.2 (the systemic goals and ‘framing story’ respectively) are certainly worth holding forums over!
The quick chart attempts to apply Donella Meadows’ model to the Malaysian socio-political system, especially in the context of political injustice, oppression, etc. Tentative (pseudo-)conclusions from applying Meadows’ study to Malaysian politics include:

a) It may not be best to focus on political variables like ISA detention figures as a means of changing the entire system; rather it may help to work at leverage-points which have greater impact to the system
b) Leverage-point no.4, the capacity for self-organisation, is something political parties can ‘work on’ and excel at over vis-à-vis their opponents
c) Leverage-point no.3 and no.2 (the systemic goals and ‘framing story’ respectively) are certainly worth holding forums over!

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Published by: Alwyn Lau on May 25, 2010
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06/07/2010

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Places to Intervene in the Malaysian Political System
Donella Meadows’ article
1
counsels us to focus on
critical leverage points
in our efforts to effectchange to any particular system. The most helpful element of Meadow’s analysis is her 
ranking 
of the impact of modifications to given leverage-points as it reveals where we have - perhapsunknowingly - focused on the wrong points(!).The following table attempts to apply Meadows’ model to the Malaysian socio-political system,especially in the context of political injustice, oppression, etc. Tentative (pseudo-)conclusionsfrom applying Meadows’ study to Malaysian politics include:
It may not be best to
 focus
on
political variables
like ISA detention figures
as a meansof changing the entire system
; rather it may help to work at leverage-points which havegreater impact to the system
Leverage-point no.4, the
capacity for self-organisation
, is something political partiescan ‘work on’ and excel at over vis-à-vis their opponents
Leverage-point no.3 and no.2 (the
systemic goals
and
‘framing story’
respectively) arecertainly worth holding forums over!(Note: I’ve removed three leverage points as I found them not too applicable, but do read theoriginal article for clarity).
 
Leverage Points
(in
ascending 
order of impact)
Explanation /Key QuestionsMalaysianSocio-Political System
9. Parameters, constants,numbers
What variables do we look for to quantify injustice oppression?
Provides
least leverage
andrarely changes behaviour 
Effective only if their ranges arehigh enough to effect changes inother leverage points
ISA detention figures
 No. of arrests focorruption
 No. of times ‘brute force’ isused
Poverty rates
 No. of 
orang asli
villagesremaining
 No. of seats won by theOpposition in parliamentThough these are common andnecessary,
targeting the above
rarely creates substantialchange
 
8. Length of Delays /Implementation Lags
 How long will measures meant to reverse injustice take to‘work’?
Time required to obtain desireditem or for new initiatives totake effect
Effect of new laws, fiscal policies, etc.
Court delays, case-escalation, etc.7. Negative Feedback loops
What keeps injustice from growing?
Preventive measures, automaticstabilizers, ‘corruption fees’,‘injustice taxes’, etc.
International outcry
Domestic protests
Social networking mediaconversation throwbacks
I’ve uploaded some ideas based on this theme
2
6. Positive Feedback loops
What causes injustice to grow?
Money politics
Indifference of the people
Acquiescence of the media
Acquittal of guilty parties5. Information Flows
What informational elementscontribute to or hindeinjustice?
Adding / restoring / revealinginformation createstransparency
Transparency of politicaldecision-making
Spreading of news /information regardinginjustice
Conversations
Raja Petra Kamaruddin is agood example4. Self-Organisation
How flexible are the partisanparties involved?
How learning-oriented /adaptive is the populace?
Ability to organize events?
Ability to communicateeffectively?
Ability to get newmembers?
Ability to learn newmethods?3. Goals of the system
What the system ‘
does’ 
Why does Malaysia exist?What does the average citizenwant?
The ‘point’ of playing the gamein the first place
Economic growth / prosperity
Racial harmony
International recognitionWhich goal is helping to
drive
injustice? Which goal
hinders
it?
 
2. Paradigms / FramingStory
Who tells Malaysians the storyof Malaysia? From where dowe get our ultimate paradigmsabout being a ‘nation-state’?
What are the paradigms used to thinking about politics and  political injustice?
Shared social agreements aboutnature of reality
Dominant political ‘story’?
Dominant theological perspective? (hence, thefaith-and-politics models,for example
3
)
What other controllingstories’ are there?IMO, it was precisely thisleverage point that BrianMcLaren was trying to get atwith his book 
 Everything Must Change
1. Ability to change paradigms
Highest ability to ‘choose’ beyond self-given limitations
Strong motivation to listen/learn because no one paradigm reignssupremeThe Holy Grail of politicaltransformation?What’s worth repeating, according to Meadows, is that the LOWER down the list we focus our change efforts on, the MORE change we can produce i.e.
effective systemic change depends ontargeting the right places.

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