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Is the US under Trump sliding into a kakistocracy – rule by the worst?

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In my youth, the KKK stood for just one thing – the Ku Klux Klan. You knew they were bad, meeting at night in secret places in weird white hooded gowns, cooking up foul racist plots around bonfires or under the flickering light of torches held aloft.

Today, I have become aware of a new KKK that makes me just as uncomfortable – “kleptocracy, kakistocracy and khakistocracy”. Once upon a time we linked this KKK with poor countries, mainly concentrated in Africa. These occupy the bottom ranks of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index or Transparency International’s Corruption Index.

But, today, they have come closer to home. Their encroachment has made it clear that competent, honest government rooted in robust democratic political systems can never be taken for granted.

For business, this KKK puts at risk clean, efficient global trade and investment. It jeopardises our global supply chains. It endangers our trust in the rule of law and the strong global growth that has so effectively lifted millions out of poverty over the past 70 years. The link between this KKK and poverty, underfunded health and education systems, poor infrastructure, low trust in government and even disregard for environmental protection is well established.

Kleptocracies have always been alive and well, and their threat is widely recognised. The practice of politicians using political power for personal enrichment has a long, depressing history – from Idi Amin in Uganda to Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe to Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria, from Jean-Claude Duvalier in Haiti to Alberto Fujimori in Peru, from Suharto in Indonesia to Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, and most recently Najib Razak in Malaysia.

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Khakistocracies – or........

© South China Morning Post