Leadership is trust. Political leadership cannot exist without trust because who will follow a leader they do not trust? We Malays have learned a lesson with UMNO because it would seem that “Those you trust the most can steal the most” Lawrence Lief.
Now that UMNO finds itself in difficulties how are the people of this country able to trust their promise of change within UMNO to meet the expectation of all people in Malaysia? UMNO does not trust anybody – not the people of this country to act in a responsible manner – as evident by the ISA and the giving to the Police of extraordinary powers to leash their brutal might over the population. They do not allow or trust the opposition to govern even in the state they hold power in. And they expect us to trust them?
“He who believes in nobody knows that he himself is not to be trusted”
The core value we require of our political leaders are to be honest, to keep their word and to be decent. It would take a very brave UMNO leader to put his hand up to any one of these core value…any one! Din could not even keep his word about filling the jail to the brim with ISA detainees! Muhyiddin was at least honest when he said he was a Malay first and then a Malaysian. And Najib did try to do the decent thing in trying to help that Saiful of Sodomy Two fame by meeting him for purposes of career guidance and to help the young man obtain a scholarship….…but you know these are not the sort of core values I am talking about!
People are disillusioned with political leadership in Malaysia. Yes we know that they come from a different era then the one we are now living in. Today being a political leader is tough. Times are harder and more uncertain and leaders are more expose.
What they thought were private a few years back is no longer private. In the times that we live in the people consider it their right to know how wealthy their political leaders are. Where their money come from. How big are their houses, how many Mercedes and BMW’s they have in their garages, how they spend their money, how many wives they have? What they do not tell us we can find out from the Internet.
For those in high public office and political leaders that fornicate, are corrupt and are unable to live to the expectations of a demanding electorate life can even be frightening – if not embarrassing! Just imagine how our Ambassador in Washington must have felt with the sniggering going on around him as his raba raba antics became public knowledge – not only to those in Malaysia but also to the CIA and by default the Obama administration! Oh the shame of it all for our country! How does Zaki Azmi live down his infamous act of burning the original marriage certificate of his illegal marriage to Nor Hayati, who was half his age, now that he is the Chief Justice? And Din with his denouncement of Kartika’s misdeeds when he himself had once indulged in it himself? But does it matter to these people or does the lure of power over comes all other considerations? Taking personal responsibility for your wrongs are not even done in Malaysia even when these wrongs are exposed. There is no contrition. It would seem that among our high and might irresponsibility is the norm!
Political leaders are required to be open about what they are doing and about what they intend to do. Transparency helps.
People want to be told the truth even if they do not like what they are hearing. It is better to know the worse and be prepared and to confront what is to come then to be caught unawares.
Leaders must concern themselves with the values that people have and they want these values that the people hold dear has to be reflected in the behavior and actions of their elected representatives.
Leadership is certainly not about arrogance. Do not think that being a leader takes you to a different level that allows you to walk with the grand but not to converse or engage with anyone else. Good leadership is about communication and listening. Leadership is not about being remote from the people you represent.
It is often said that a plane being flown by the First Officer is certainly safer then when flown by the Captain! When the First Officer does something wrong when flying the plane the Captain is not afraid to intervene. It does not work that way when the Captain is flying the plane! And so it goes that way for good leaders to. They should be interested in the view of others and listen to the views of those around him.
A leader must also get the succession issue right. He must have the right people to take over. Enough has been said about Mahathir and his deputies but allow me to add just one more thought on that…if Mahathir had got it wrong three times in choosing his Deputy how does he expect to get anything right now when he is in his prime of his senility?
"There are three signs of senility.
The first sign is that a man forgets his theorems. The second sign is that he forgets to zip up.
The third sign is that he forgets to zip down".
We have need for good leaders in Malaysia. Be it from Pakatan Rakyat or Barisan Nasional. Those who have done brave things are scared when confronted by the things that they have to do but they do it because they wanted to do the right thing. It is all right to be scared. It is not all right to run away.
And so we know that the coming general election will be a watershed for all things Malaysian. It will not be a level playing field because UMNO will have the high ground. Pakatan Rakyat will need to work and take the opportunities that arise and use what strengths they have to build on these opportunities. Take valuable lessons from the betrayal of those from within your ranks. Do not expect the people to fight your war if you do not lead from the front.