- By U Khin Maung (a retired diplomat)
There are three vital organs in a state. They are the law-making organ or the parliament, the executive organ or the government, and the judicial organ or the judiciary. As regards the term, “the government,” Black’s Law Dictionary has explained as follows: “Government” is the structure of principles and rules determined on how a state or organization is regulated.”
“The government” is “the sovereign power in a nation or a state”. “The government” is an organization through which a body of people exercise political authority, the machinery by which sovereign power is expressed.
In this sense, the term refers collectively to the political organs of a country, regardless of their function or level, and regardless of the subject matter they deal with.
And especially in the United States of America, the government is called the “Administration together with the incumbent President; for example, the Trump Administration”.
From a general point of view, government may be classified into various systems. To mention just a few, governments may be classified into the monarchy, an oligarchy, democracy, dictatorship, despotism, etc. As for a democratic government, or democracy, there is a well-known definition made by Abraham Lincoln, also known as the father of freedom in US history. It reads: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.” In this definition Daniel Webster further made, varied slightly in its terms and considerably in its scope, since the latter part of the 18th century as follows: “Democracy” means “the people’s government, made for the people, made by the people, and answered to the people.”
In our tradition and culture, a good monarch has to follow the ten principles incumbent on him. These ten principles are: (1) charity (2) religious practice (3) benefaction (4) fairness (5) gentleness (6) keeping Sabbath (7) benevolence (8) avoidance of cruelty (9) patience (10) avoidance of conflict.
And in this modern age, there are essential ingredients of a democratically elected government or a good government, with clean governance. To mention just in essence, performing works to promote, protect, preserve and safeguard the public interests, ensuring rule of law in the government’s functions and business; these are the essential and necessary ingredients.
In a sense, there should be no nepotism, no cronyism, no prejudice and bias, no injustice, no corruption of any kind in a democratically elected government. In essence, the care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and foremost and the only legitimate object of the good government. And to win the hearts and minds of the people, the good government must always be together with the people. The good government must always serve the public requirements.
In this article, may I represent a well-known essential quotation. It reads, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Another quotation, “It is a strange desire to seek power and to lose power over a man’s self”. “The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.”
“Corruption” is too wide a term to define in a single sense. But “Power tends to corrupt; and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In this sense, “Corruption is depravity, perversion or trait, an impairment of integrity, virtue or moral principle; especially the impairment of a public official’s duties by bribery. Corruption is also the act of doing something with intent to give some advantage inconsistent with official duty and the right of others.”
And in another sense, if a public servant of the government decides a case out of prejudice and bias, that public servant is said to be corrupted. Corruption means not only taking bribes or committing acts of bribery. If a public servant decides a case out of emotion, that is love or hate, out of anger, out of fear for his job or out of ignorance of proper law, rules and regulations, he is said to be corrupted. He is said to have committed acts of mismanagement and acts of malpractice or acts of corruption.
Applying zero tolerance policy and practice against bribery and corruption, the incumbent government’s anti-corruption is taking serious legal action against its own public servants in accordance with the law. In connection with corruption, may I quote, just in essence, a few salient points as follows: “Corruption is an evil which should be fought by all of us. It is a cancer which can exist or be removed completely only by the efforts of every member of the society. For any penny which is paid, there is one who gives and one who takes. Corruption in many cases has become a participatory venture which both the giver and the taker benefit. The only loser is the state.”
Well, I have already mentioned that the incumbent government is “a democratically elected government of the people, by the people, for the people”.
In a wide sense, the incumbent government is doing its utmost to become a good government with clean governance, thereby winning the hearts and minds of the people. The good government must always be together with the people. The good government must always serve the public requirements. So, the ingredients of the good government and clean governance are follows:
(a)accountability (b)transparency (c) rule of law (d) freedom of press (e) independence of judiciary (f) corruption-free (g) people’s participation
If we assess and evaluate the incumbent government, how well, how effectively and how actively it is working during its over two years in office, I, a retiree, a nonentity, believe that our government is doing a good job of what they have to do. So, our government is winning the hearts and minds of the people as a good government, with clean governance. Well, as we know, governments may come and governments may go, but a good government will remain in the heart and history of a nation forever. A good government is remembered not by the years it stayed in office, but for the years it used for the welfare of the people.
In this article, I would like to quote a few salient points from the message extended by His Excellency, U Win Myint, our President, on the occasion of the International Day of Democracy, 15 September 2018.
The President’s message on the theme of the International Day of Democracy fits perfectly with Myanmar’s current context of democratic reform process.
“This year marks the eighth anniversary of the celebration of the International Day of Democracy in Myanmar. In other words, it can be said that our country has undergone democratic transition for eight years. In a democratic society government is a basic entity existed together with political parties, civil societies, other associations and the media.
Therefore, they all bear the responsibility to oversee in order to maintain and strengthen democracy. If we fulfill our own responsibility, the significance of the theme “over-sight” will become meaningful.
Democracy is endowed with Justice, Freedom and Equality. Democracy also leads to peace and development of a country and prosperity for its people. Moreover, democracy guarantees the right to live, freedom and happiness. Democracy system is based on the theory that ‘democratic government is to serve the people and the people not to serve the government.’
Therefore, on the International Day of Democracy, may I convey this message and my best wishes for all ethnic nationals to be able to strive together with collective strength of the people to bring about a united and harmonious society in the spirit of mutual understanding, respect, trust and amity as well as for successful building of a Democratic Federal Union.”
In conclusion, please permit me to convey my highest regards and profound respects to the democratically elected incumbent government of the people, by the people, for the people and wish it every brilliant success together with the people.
(1) A book of essential quotations, Eric Patridge
(2) Law and custom in Burma and the Burmese Family, Dr. Maung Maung
(3) Black’s Law Dictionary, Bryan A. Garner
(4) The Global New Light of Myanmar, 15 September 2018