The Challenge of Good Governance in the Muslim World
On 24 September Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, lectured at the Centre on ‘The Challenge of Good Governance in the Muslim World’. A long-standing friend and supporter of the Centre, it was Dr Mahathir’s sixth visit and second Distinguished Lecture (the first being in 1996). It was also his first major lecture in the West since returning as Prime Minister last May. The lecture, held in the Malaysia Auditorium, was attended by senior members of the University and representatives from many diplomatic missions. The talk was also video-streamed into two other lecture spaces to accommodate all those wishing to attend.
In his lecture, Dr Mahathir provided an historical overview of governance in Islamic countries. He noted that democracy has developed in Western countries over centuries and it was unrealistic to expect that Muslim countries can adopt it overnight. The strength of a democratic system rests on the appreciation within the electorate of the importance of universal suffrage. Each vote counts and hence every voter has an individual responsibility to participate in the electoral process. Societies need time and patience to transition from feudal and traditional rule to systems of governance based on participation and accountability. Overthrowing one system does not immediately lead to the successful establishment of another. Following the lecture, Dr Mahathir answered questions on the impact of technology (including social media) on politics, the interaction of customs with religion and the importance of knowledge exchange and educational links between countries.
The vote of thanks was proposed by Mr Richard Graham MP, the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to ASEAN and Chairman of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.