Transcending Dualism In Public Administration


Ancient Taoists realised that contradictions were creations of the human mind. When Yin appears, so does Yang. In modern Western thought, notions stemming from the Hegelian dialectic are the closest thing to this old wisdom. These were traditions meant to point to the endless divisiveness of dualistic thought, which in public administration and politics causes more problems than it solves.

THE OLD GREEK philosophy has a famous law, the law of non-contradiction, which says, a thing cannot be its opposite in the same time-space continuum. In plain English, this is what we call “Either/ Or” thinking, or in plainer English, a durian cannot be at the same time a mangosteen.

While many of us may not know this law by name, we are often its faithful adherents. This is more so for politicians. Politics today, especially in Malaysia, has become painfully partisan. You are either in Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, you are either a United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) Muslim or a Malaysia’s Islamic Party (PAS) Muslim, you are either with us or against us.

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