Monday, March 21, 2011

Gaddafi : Against all enemies...

"‘I would say he is an introspective person, reflective, thinking about the problems of his country. Certainly an astute person" - SM Goh Chok Tong on Gaddafi, May 2008[Link]
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A few weeks ago when the uprising started in Libya. Colonel Gaddafi said that the Al Qaeda was behind the uprising and the rebels were under the influence of drugs. Listen to what he said a few weeks ago:


After coming under attack by allied forces (France, US, UK) implementing a no fly zone, he now says he will fight Christian crusaders[Link]. Whether you believe western powers are going all out to save civilian lives or have other political motives, they are dealing with a volatile aggressive dictator likely to be delusional and violent.

What surprised me is Gaddafi's ability to fight back against the rebels and the thousands of loyalists willing to die for him. After watching the last few of his speeches (unedited, translated), many people from other parts of would have come the conclusion that he may not have a sound mind. Yet he command the loyalty of a significant segment of his population.

".....In Libya, education and health care are free. Petrol costs 10 US cents (14 Singapore cents) a litre, 'way below market rates'. When a Libyan gets married, the government provides the couple a flat about the size of a three-room flat in Singapore. " - Report on SM Goh's Libya visit]Link]

Gaddafi's 41 year rule benefited many Libyans in particular members of his elite forces, security forces and his own tribe. Despite his questionable mental state and authoritarian rule, he has a large group of loyalists behind him and many whose future depends on keeping him in power. The Libyans fighting him come from impoverished parts of the country - people he deliberately neglected because they belonged to other tribes. If Gaddafi had not given those 3 room flats to his supporters, generous subsidies for everything from education, medicare to electricity he would have fallen very quickly because his support base would have been very small. If he kept the oil wealth concentrated in a small number of elites, say his ministers, he wouldn't be able to hang on to power for so long. Despite his weird volatile and irrational leadership style, his understanding of the need to distribute wealth is what is preventing him from losing power quickly. If he had distributed oil wealth to his "enemies" and treated them with greater equality, they, perhaps, would not be rebelling so strongly against him.

Gaddafi is an extreme example and Libya has oil but at the end of the day, there is a lesson here on of the distribution wealth in a country. You cannot have one part of the country living in wealth & comfort and large segment of the populace struggling in poverty. You can maintain such large inequalities with authoritarian rule only for so long and at some point cracks will appear and a large number will turn against you.

I hope for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Libya. However, I'm not too optimistic. Libya is a country divided and polarized by the way wealth was distributed. There are people who love Gaddafi and people who hate him. These groups looks like they will fight to the bitter end.

I did a quick back of the envelop calculation on Libya's wealth. Libya produces about 1 million barrels of sweet crude per day (before the uprising) At today oil price of about US$100 per barrel, this translates to US$100M per day coming from the ground. Libya has 6.4M people which means the people get US$15 a day without doing much work - enough for food and lodging. If he distribute this money more equally, he could have maintained his socialist authoritarian state for much longer. Not that this is an ideal way to rule and govern a group of people but he could have avoided the rebellion he is facing today.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Libya has an area of 1.8 million sq km but with only a population of 6.4 million and concentrated along the Mediterranean coast.

Singapore has an area of 700 sq km but with 5 million population!

Also the rebellion in Libya is mainly in the east, far away from the capital Tripoli in the west.

So maybe if Libya is only 700 sq km, probably things will be much easier, even if inequalities of wealth exist.

And if Libya has no oil, I think it will be even peaceful too. Oil wealth can cause lots of problems, and sometimes it is a curse.

Anonymous said...

Lucky,
This is where I think the PAP is smart. They totally understand the point you just made, long before you did.

They take care of a simple majority of the country, i.e the wealthier half. Cos if they don't like what they see, they leave.

The poorer half can complaint, whine, whatever they want but do not have the resources to get rid of the PAP and not easy for them to leave.

There you have it!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Gaddafi has been eating plenty of sashimi with his oil money. That could explain why he is so stoic in adversity.

Anonymous said...

If Singapore topples, it is because of democracy.

Anonymous said...

In Singapore, the riches and foreign talents have profit from the massive accumulation of wealth while the poor and middle class are bleeding with losses from Towkays exploitation.

What to do? We reap what we sow.

Anonymous said...

they don't trust your money politics practiced here, you will be in trouble

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, if only dictators
have this sense of equity,there will be less hardship in this world.But dictators will never know when to say enough and when to relinquish power gracefully.They want perpetuity and concentration of power. The only way they know how;
reward the cronies around them, control the media and whitewash
everything that is off colour.
Opps! That sounds too close to home.

Anonymous said...

So long as any regime keeps the enforcement agencies and the armed forces on its' side with money and power, there is nothing any citizenry can do.

Dictators, like Gaddafi, Suharto, Marcos and Idi Amin and many others all employed the same tactic. Unless and until the Armed Personnels are awakened by conscience, the people will perpetually be abused and bullied by their rulers. It happened and happens throughout history.

And of course, there is always the people giving away their opportunity to ameliorate or change the situation as in Sin. Singapore voters have an opportunity to vote in Alternative Political Parties to balance and or even reduce the majority held by a single party. Will they do it?

Let's see if Singaporeans want a better future or they are happy with the Current Regime.

patriot

Ghost said...

Te reason for Gaddafi's support is more than just money Lucky. You need to look at the history of Libya.
He might not be the best leader in the world but he has been in power for 41 years and in that time he did do some good things for his country. Libya has the highest HDI in Africa and the fourth highest GDP (PPP) per capita in Africa. That probaly is why he got such a large group of loyalists behind him.

Anonymous said...

The property inflation is achieved by forcing a considerable portion of Singaporean into debt.

Right now, we are already squeezed dry. Even if government wants to force debt into our throat, the good collateral are all gone.

There is no way but imminent collapse of our system. Don't worry boys, revolution will come according to law of nature.

The more Singaporean is being force into poverty, the faster the regime change.

Anonymous said...

"The more Singaporean is being force into poverty, the faster the regime change.

21/3/11 12:59"

Not really lah. Otherwise the opposition will be very strong already.

Ask yourself. Can the opposition even win at least 30 seats to deny PAP 2/3 majority, let alone cause a regime change?

You say lah.

Anonymous said...

You remove my post as only place up those comments that suits your tastebuds. For that, I won't be reading you anymore. The quality of your analysis is down and you are clearly not a critical thinker. You're a wannabe. So I don't care if you're not posting this.

Anonymous said...

The world economy has not recover yet. Now is not the time for military investment.

Anonymous said...

//
The world economy has not recover yet. Now is not the time for military investment.
//

Arms manufacturing is one of the few remaining areas where USA have a competitive advantage!!!

Anonymous said...

"We will not leave our oil to America or France or Britain or the enemy Christian states that are aligned now against us," he said. "We will not leave our land. We will fight for every inch of our land and liberate every inch of it."

Sshhhh.....you shouldn't say that out loud.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's right. The only manufacturing sector left for the USA is weapons. So, it makes much sense to start wars. There is now so much potential in the Middle East for the arms industry, besides the lure of oil.

But it also depends on who is doing the arming. If the USA arms the rebels that is acceptable. If China arms rebels in the Middle East or anywhere else, that is stirring up trouble and you can expect the whole UN rising and condemning China.

Anonymous said...

The combined forces could obliterate Gaddafi within a short time.
He can kill his own countrymen, however he may not live longer than them or be made to live in dungeon.
Whatever happens to Gaddafi, he has only himself to blame for his own downfall.