Julia has been a journalist for too long, but still counts it as her first love in spite of a brief flirtation with lecturing and the corporate world. She has a friend who calls her naïve for believing that Malaysia could one day rise from the ashes. She hopes to one day prove him wrong.
Published: 24 May 2015
There is a saying that a fool cannot lead beyond his own limited capabilities. Likewise, how great our nation will be is, unfortunately, very much dependent on how great our leaders are.
By that measure alone, Malaysia seems to be doomed.
The recent mounting calls for our present Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to step down has posed a pertinent question in every concerned Malaysian’s mind – If Najib relinquishes his post, who then is qualified to lead this nation at such a time of great political and economic volatility?
Apart from battling growingly negative public perception, Najib’s refusal to satisfactorily address questions of where and how billions of ringgit remain unaccounted for in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal will ultimately be the nail that seals his political coffin.
But if you’re like me and have witnessed the countless changes within our country’s top echelon of leaders, and have been disappointed just as many times with the incompetency of those in charge, then the prospect of Najib’s resignation does not at all bring optimism that things will change for the better.
Although by law, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong has the discretion to appoint the Prime Minister, this position has always been invariably given to the chief of the dominant party which commands the most seats in the lower house of Parliament.
In our current context, the head of Umno will always be appointed the prime minister. So if Najib were to step down from his post, it will be likely that his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will take over.
While Najib’s leadership has been characterised with weakness and shortcomings, Muhyiddin’s track record as education minister leaves hopeful Malaysians very little to be excited about.
The sorry and regressive state of Malaysia’s education system is apparent to everybody except the minister himself, and years of flip-flopping, short-sighted policies will soon create an entire generation of Malaysians who will be unable to thrive in an increasingly competitive world.
Muhyiddin has not even been spared by those within his own party – which has a notorious history of non-self-criticism – and seems to be a contender for being the worst ever education minister, if we are to go by our current university rankings.
Are we to be optimistic that this man is capable to steer our country out of a glum economic outlook, and bring about a change in the status quo of a political climate of fear?
Do we have hope that our intended new leader is committed to restoring the delicate ethnic and religious balance in society that has so rapidly deteriorated in recent years?
Interestingly enough, even former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad revealed a telling lack of confidence in Muhyiddin’s abilities when he admitted that there were many others within Umno who were “better” for the job of prime minister.
But sticking to Muhyiddin, according to Dr Mahathir, was safer and better for Umno.
Has our politics regressed to the point where you don’t need to be principled, responsible or qualified to be a leader; you merely need to be the most convenient?
If our current crop of Umno leaders truly believe they are patriots, then they must show commitment in putting national interests above party interests.
This means weeding out the toxic political practices – such as money politics – within the party that prohibit the rise of leaders who can look beyond race and blind party loyalty to become true nation builders.
If we are to progress towards a high-income and developed nation, leadership selection and succession cannot be based on the most convenient candidate, but on the most capable.
It is true, though, that rebuilding our country cannot be the sole responsibility of just one man, and definitely not of just one party.
But give us a leader we can respect, regardless of whether or not we agree with his or her politics, and you will revive the hope in all Malaysians that there can be a better future here. And maybe, just maybe, the rebuilding of Malaysia will be the success story of an entire nation. – May 24, 2015.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.
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