Wednesday, 24 July 2013
Pencerahan Isu Erdogan dan Turki
In Defense of Erdogan and the AKP
Dr Jeffery Abu Hassan, Dato’ Dr Musa Mohd Nordin
Board of Directors, Muslim Professionals Forum
Much has been written about the political impasse in the Turkish capital. More recently commentaries and opinions have been expressed in the local media extrapolating the recent events as symptomatic of Erdogan’s autocratic rule and taking AKP to task for its failure to exemplify itself as authentic Islamic democrats. The complexity of the turn of events in Taksim Square should not exempt us from rationally examining history and contemporary evidence in our shared quest to separate fact from fiction.
What initially began as a small protest against the uprooting of a few trees grew into a protest of a few thousands. The supposedly “Green Protest” needs to be contrasted against the AKP Green Project which have planted in excess of 3 billion trees across Turkey since it came to power and for this PM Erdogan was honoured with the UN Habitat award.
Any discerning political analyst worth his salt would have immediately understood that the protest first mooted by the environmentalist have been politically hijacked by opposition parties and anarchists – it does not require rocket science to fathom this equation!
These political opportunists abused the democratic space and illegitimately expressed their hostilities against a prime minister and Party that has been elected democratically and with increasing majorities for three consecutive terms. No government elected on such a convincing mandate would tolerate any form of illegitimate means to undermine public order, attack the police and destroy public and private property. Even minority governments would not condone such public display of vandalism and atrocities. The Occupy Movement in the US and the demonstrations against the G8 meetings have all been handled the same way but when it happens in Turkey it is exaggerated to such an outlandish degree. Is this an unconscious expression of one’s Islamophobic traits? As it is we have one too many of such nuances in both the international and local print media.
PM Erdogan and his senior government officials have met the protesters and both parties have agreed to put the issue of the park to a referendum for the residents of Istanbul, pending a court decision. PM Erdogan in no uncertain terms stated that a full investigation would be undertaken to examine if excessive force had been used by the police force. How much more democratic can you get?
Turkey took its first loan from the IMF in 1961. When the AKP came to power, Turkey owed the IMF US$23.5 billion. She has now repaid all her loans to the IMF and is now a net lender rather than a borrower to the fund when she recently pledged US$5 billion to the IMF to help with the European crisis. Turkey has since reduced its government debt to 40% of GDP from 78% when Erdogan took office in 2002. As stressed by the deputy Prime Minister, Ali Babacan, with an inflation rate at its lowest since the last 44 years, a 1 million rise in employment, near zero interest rate and improved credit ratings, Turkey must be doing something right. With the looming economic meltdown in the EU, one just wonders who is today the “sick man of Europe.”
In the international arena Turkey is the only country that has stood against the illegitimate Israeli occupation of Palestine putting to shame all the democracies in the modern world and its agencies. This she did openly via the Mavi Marmara flotilla, PM Erdogan's standoff against Peres at the World Economic Summit, Davos and it's support for the many fledgling democracies that have mushroomed in the Middle East.
On Sunday, 16 June 2013, a million people rallied in support of PM Erdogan and the AKP. This was a fact that has gone unnoticed, not surprisingly in the sensation-seeking foreign press. (http://english.sabah.com.tr/national/2013/06/17/erdogan-addresses-rally-in-kazlicesme-in-a-massive-showing-of-support)
Thus the problem is not with the Islamic democrats.
As in Egypt, the problem lies with the reactionary, ultra secular regimes who have been overthrown by the masses in free and fair elections. These are the beneficiaries of the previous non-democratic regimes corrupted to the core, milking the nation’s wealth for their self-aggrandizement. These are the irreligious politicans and their cronies who would like to maintain their lavish lifestyles that are not compatible with the majority. These are the minorities that are bent on wreaking tyranny on the majority. They desire to continue looting the nation’s wealth and continue business as usual but the Arab Spring has thrashed them into the bin of history. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, Junior; “The arc of the moral universe is long but it always bends towards justice.”
Both Turkey and Egypt have massive bureaucracies and judiciaries that continue to be beholden to the previous regimes. In Egypt the Judiciary has cancelled virtually all the elections which the Muslim Brotherhood has won convincingly. They have won five of the elections since the overthrow of Mubarak but their legitimacy is still doubted and progress for the country is stymied by these political reactionaries. Elections outlawed calls for new elections and millions of dollars that is scarce in Egypt.
President Morsi is not yet a year in power and there are already voices for his removal. He had won fairly and squarely in the first elections post Mubarak.
Those who screamed for the ballot box now do not agree with the results. Is it democracy only when the liberal and secular minority wins? Is it democracy only when foreign powers gives its stamp of approval? The military coup to deprive the pivotal Islamic Salvation Front ballot box victory in Algeria in 1992 and more recently Hamas in Palestine are just 2 cases in point.
The AKP in Turkey despite having won convincingly was nearly outlawed by the judiciary and thus the will of the people was to be sidelined for the sake of the minority.
A virtual collapse of Turkey’s economy and gross violations of human rights was the order of the day during the years preceding 2002. Since PM Erdogan took office, a steady reduction of these abuses and violations were kick-started. On-going efforts are in place to replace the Constitution dictated by the military junta with a democratic one. Peace process has recently been in place that has witnessed no major clashes with the Kurdish Workers Party (deemed as terrorist by Turkey, the US and Europe). The loud accusations regarding productive rights, abortions, alcohol sales, freedom of immodesty in public and the government’s efforts to Islamisize Turkey holds no water.
Unlike in the US where Bibles are a common item in a hotel room, one will not find Qurans in hotels in Turkey. Catholic schools in Ontario are state funded, but not Islamic schools in Turkey. In Finland, no sale of liquor is allowed between 10pm to 6am while in Taksim Square one can see liquor being sold 9pm to 9am. Yes, there are limitations on liquor advertising. But how is that different from the US?
Ten (10) years is very much a short period of time to undo a country that has experienced four (4) military coups against the popularly elected governments between 1960 and 1997 under the guise of the Ataturk legacy, that practiced autocratic rules.
As the Turkish foreign minister puts it,
“Elections are the only way to change a democratically elected government. Our party has built a first-rate democracy that we value more than ever – since 1950; legitimate governments have been toppled four times from outside the political sphere. We represent the will of the people, and our political power is the power of all of our citizens.”
Thus the problem again is not with the Islamic Democrats. They were voted into power by the rules of the game but when they won, the rules are changed and the goal post moved to make life as difficult as possible and not to allow them the liberty to go ahead with nation building. In some countries they are not even allowed the prospect of gaining power by the politics of gerrymandering and electoral fraud. The secular fear of Islamic democrats and democrats in general is so perverse that the lay person is indoctrinated to the hilt and bribed handsomely to vote against them. And when they do by some miracle get to power, the bureaucrats and supporters of previous regimes make life hell for them. I suspect this scenario is much familiar to many amongst us!
The outright fact remains that that this AKP government has presided over the most successful era in Turkish politics for well over 100 years. The ultra- seculars in Turkish politics are completely oblivious of the fact that for 60 years when Turkey was under their charge, its prestige and power had declined to levels lower than meat in a Doner Kebab. They closed religious schools, banned hijabs and imprisoned members of Islamic organisations. Are these just some of the “freedoms” which the protesters now miss?
PM Erdogan had to serve 120 days of a 10-month prison sentence for simply reciting this poem:
"Our minarets are our bayonets,
Our domes are our helmets,
Our mosques are our barracks.
We will put a final end to ethnic segregation.
No one can ever intimidate us.
If the skies and the ground were to open against us.
If floods and volcanoes were to burst, We will not turn from our mission.
My reference is Islam. If I am not able to speak of this, What is the use of living?"
The higher than average levels of imprisonment of journalists however needs to be addressed by the AKP. Apart from this blemish, PM Erdogan has in a relatively short space of time recorded a stellar political report card. He has won a convincing majority at the ballot box for every election in the last 10 years. Against all odds he restricted the power of the coup-happy army. He virtually ended the perpetual Turkish war against the Kurds. On most occasions he was the first world leader to stand firm with the masses in their democratic expressions against the autocratic regimes from Tunisia to Syria. Despite the current hyped trials and tribulations, in our opinion PM Erdogan and the AKP still represent the best examples of Islamist democrats there are.
But in the protesters narrative, now echoed by some political analysts, only one thing matters. If you are for Islam – they are against you. The protests in Turkey are simply put, a desperate attempt to instigate a coup against a democratically elected civilian government. They are the last sigh of a secular liberal elite who have realized far too late that the future does not belong to them anymore.