This is one of those special times for Malaysia when change and ideas are most welcome. So there is hope and opportunity. And it is one of those special times when change, even paradigm shifts are possible, and local governments given a new and more central place in the lives of our citizens. If we can together constructively, creatively and systematically build and add to the many promising initiatives , and if civic engagement leads an upsurge of citizen interest, we will surely see the emergence of an efficient, effective, equitable, democratic local government system in Malaysia that is socially, ecologically and economically sustainable. And make a marked improvement in the quality of life of all Malaysians.
* Anwar Fazal, Penang. In Malaysiakini, 12 April 2001
On 15 November 2015 US President Barack Obama in a deeply resonant address to an audience of mainly young Greeks in Athens, reminding us of the challenges of democracy in this troubled century, calling for a “course correction” on globalization that has left populations afraid for an uncertain future.
It works like this.
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
– Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3
As your professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy you would have thought that I might at least have sat you down at the beginning of the seminar and given you a clear understanding of that oft-repeated rarely-questioned phrase “sustainable development”.
This Nathalie Nomblot brought most embarrassingly to my attention yesterday when we were struggling to find a good topic for her Quick Report, which I had usefully (!) suggested she might write on “sustainable development” and “something else” (her choice). To which she energetically wrote back: “In one sentence, could you please give me your definition of Sustainable Development? That would help!”