Malaysia is a fascist country where bloggers go to jail:
Every citizen is issued a biometric smart chip identity card, known as MyKad, at the age of 12, and must carry the card at all times. A citizen is required to present his or her identity card to the police, or in the case of an emergency, to any military personnel, to be identified. If the card cannot be produced immediately, the person technically has 24 hours under the law to produce it at the nearest police station.
Anwar Ibrahim was beaten up by the Police Chief - on the orders of the former PM - and convicted on trumped-up charges of sodomy in an attempt to remove him from the political scene. He claims he has the numbers in parliament to become the new PM, but since the ruling party (which Ibrahim had come from - he was deputy PM) are used to total power they will try every trick in the book to prevent this - parliament is in recess until October.
In South Africa Thabo Mbeki has yielded to a hostile ANC executive and will stand down from the Presidency tomorrow. His battle with his presumed successor, Jacob Zuma (tainted by a rape trail involving Zuma admitting unprotected sex with an HIV+ woman) has ended Mbeki's career.
The decision comes after a court ruled this month that charges against Mr Zuma, which include corruption and fraud, were invalid because proper procedures had not been followed. More damaging was the judge’s belief that Mr Mbeki and some of his ministers may have exerted political influence over the National Prosecuting Authority
Mr Mbeki has been in office for nearly a decade and has been accused of arrogance, aloofness and centralising power. His many rivals have coalesced around Mr Zuma.
But South Africa has set a standard in political management and regime change that should be applauded. The Afrikaaners gave up power in the end without triggering a wholesale collapse of the country - Mandela gave up power in an orderly way and now Mbeki has agreed to go without a fight. This is a good precedent for the rest of Africa.
Mbeki's mate, Mugabe, is having a much harder time coming to terms with his lack of popular support however. But even in that situation - precarious as it is - there is cause for hope. When Zuma comes along even more so - he has taken publicly criticised Mugabe. Kenya's compromise power-sharing arrangement has been somewhat of a template for Zim, but that is a fudge by the incumbent party to hang on in some form - abiding by the will of the electorate is still something of an anathema to many third world countries. And perhaps one of the reasons they remain third world.
With all of NZ's political drama playing out in the spotlight of an election campaign and allegations of hidden donations and undeclared shareholdings etc. we should not lose track of how relatively robust our democratic systems are - despite their occasional failings. We take our chance to change the landscape every three years for granted.