Longing For Enlightened Leaders

by M.Bakri Musa

Before Malaysians grant Prime Minister Najib’s request for a mandate in the coming election, we should examine his performance during the past four years. It has been mediocre, satiated with slogans, and drifting amidst an abundance of acronyms. If Malaysians are satisfied with KPI and PEMANDU, or One Malaysia This and Two Malaysia That, then expect more of the same, this time with ever incredulous inanity and flatulent fatuousness.

Najib has not demonstrated any ability or inclination to clean up his administrative house. An early indication of his second term performance is this. Thus far no cabinet minister has voluntarily withdrawn from being an electoral candidate. As Najib will not drop them, if they win they will end up in his cabinet again. Nothing would have changed.

A wisecrack definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. That is true only if you let the same cast of incompetent characters carry out the task after they have clearly and repeatedly demonstrated their inability to do so. Pick others more competent and diligent, and the result may well surprise you. It would be far from insanity.

The best advice a science teacher could give a student who repeatedly fails to perform an experiment is to suggest that he pursues music instead, where “practice, practice, practice!” (doing the same thing over and over) may take him to Carnegie Hall. Likewise, the kindest gesture to Najib after he has clearly demonstrated his inability to lead would be for Malaysians to force him into another line of work, by not voting him and his party in.

After over half of century in power, what has UMNO, a party that claims to champion Malays, achieved? Malays today are even more morally corrupt, deeply polarized, and economically disadvantaged than ever before. Those are not my observations. I am merely summarizing what Mahathir, a man who led the country and UMNO for over two decades, said.

Take any social indicator – rate of incarceration, drug abuse, families headed by single mothers – and our community is over represented. Our educational and economic achievements are nothing to be proud of; they are an embarrassment. Yet UMNO Supreme Council members parade their ‘doctorates’ from degree mills as genuine intellectual achievements. The sorry part is that their colleagues believe them! Spouses and families of ministers brag that their luxurious condominiums are the fruits of their entrepreneurial flair where others see those as reflecting the corruption and cronyism of the system.

Current UMNO leaders are like that inept science student; it is time to force them to pursue other lines of work, anything other than leading us. Voters must be like the strict teacher; flunk the student who repeatedly fails to perform his assigned task. Letting him continue would not do that individual any service; it would only be detrimental to the rest of the class. Voters must flunk these corrupt and incompetent UMNO leaders by voting them out.

Not A Lost Cause

This does not mean that UMNO is a lost cause; nothing is. Even the most unseaworthy sloop could through imaginative and skilful craftsmanship be brought up to Bristol condition. The operative phrase or caveat is “imaginative and skilful craftsmanship.” Is Najib imaginative and skilful?

I never underestimate the ability of an individual to learn or change. The diminutive, uninspiring and uncharismatic Deng Xiaoping was well in his 70s when he assumed power. He then took his giant nation in a radically different and far better direction.

Unlike Deng, Najib is far from being diminutive physically, but he exceeds Deng in being uninspiring and uncharismatic. Again unlike Deng whose path to power was littered with the carcasses of personal and political tragedies (his son was paralyzed by Red Guard goons and Deng was once paraded in a dunce cap on the streets of Beijing), Najib’s ascend to the top was well paved – by others.

Deng was tempered by life’s bitter lessons; Najib’s the beneficiary of its many blessings. If Najib considers that a handicap and an excuse for his underperformance, then he should look up to another transformative leader of modern times, Franklin D Roosevelt, for inspiration. Roosevelt, whose name means a field of roses in Dutch, was born into privilege. Yet he uplifted the lives of Americans especially the poor through his New Deal initiatives. His progressive redistributionist policies earned him the sobriquet, “traitor to his class.”

Najib’s name is equally rosy; it means wise, intelligent, or high birth in Arabic. Like Roosevelt, Najib was also born into privilege though not on the same scale as FDR or today. Corruption and cronyism were not yet the norms when Tun Razak was Prime Minister.

Going back to Deng, Najib too spent his formative years as a young man abroad, in Britain, to Deng’s Europe. When Deng left, his father asked him what he hoped to learn. Deng replied, “To learn knowledge and the truth from the West in order to save China.”

I do not know whether Najib had a similar conversation with his father, but one thing I do know. Tun Razak sent all his children abroad to escape the very Malaysian system of education he was championing! Hypocrisy is a good word to describe such a stance. That is one trait Najib inherits from his father.

I risk flattering Najib by mentioning him in the same sentence with Deng and FDR. My doing so merely reflects a longing on my part for a leader who could inspire us.

Najib could initiate change now to give us a hint that he is indeed capable of being a “transformative leader” as he so frequently bragged, and not be content with merely mouthing slogans. He could announce his “shadow” cabinet should Barisan be returned to power. Better yet, revamp his cabinet now and pick his new team to go into the election so citizens could have a reason to vote for Barisan and not merely against Pakatan.

Malaysians do not expect miracles or demand a super team, merely capable and honest ministers. It is not a tall order. Begin by getting rid of those stale politicians in his cabinet. If they haven’t yet made their mark, they are unlikely to do so in the next few years.

Characters like Nazri, Rais and Hishamuddin are like durians that have remained unsold for far too long. They are tak laku (unsellable), not even good for making tompoyak. All they do is stink the place up and lower the value of what few remaining good durians Najib has. Nor are his junior ministers, the next tier of leaders, any better, as exemplified by the recent idiotic utterances of one Dr. Mashitah. She is supposedly better educated, sporting a doctorate of some sort.

I could add a few more names including that of Muhyyiddin, but that would only be divisive. After all he has as much claim and legitimacy to the top post as Najib. Instead why not join forces and together pick the new dream team.

While he is at it, Najib should also pick a new Attorney General and anti-corruption chief. If Najib were to name individuals with impeccable credentials and professionalism to those two offices, then those old tak laku durians he dropped from his cabinet would not dare create trouble for him.

Najib’s address to the UMNO General Assembly later this month will reveal whether he is content with another session of sloganeering or serious about transforming his party and country. The greater significance is this. By indulging in the former and naming the same old nincompoops to his cabinet and top positions, Najib soils the reputation of our community. It gives the impression that the Nazris, Raises, Mashitahs and Hishamuddins represent the best our race is capable of producing or that we are bereft of talents. The shame reflects on all of us.

  1. #1 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Monday, 19 November 2012 - 7:18 pm

    45,000 + students scored straight As in UPSR.

    All credit must go to Minister of Education Muhyiddin for the cemerlang results.

    BUT: probably 40,000 straight As students cn’t write a simple sentence in English.

    All blame goes to the empty-gong minister of education who doesn’t know what is good for Malaysians.

  2. #2 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Monday, 19 November 2012 - 9:18 pm

    CJ says: ” Independence of the judiciary depends on the PM”.

    Oh? Independence depends on Najib?

    Ok, that is a good joke for 2012. Now let’s have a different joke. A real joke. Not a sick joke.

  3. #3 by Noble House on Monday, 19 November 2012 - 11:27 pm

    Politics in Umno Baru today is about enriching oneself. Everyone wants to get onboard that gravy train. It has become an exception rather than the rule especially when you have the right “bin” or “binte” after your name. To dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.

  4. #4 by raven77 on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - 12:58 am

    Malaysia lost it when Badawi came in and Najib just made it worse by not knowing basic economics. When he was MB Pahang, the state was bankrupted. UMNO has no one to blame but themselves for not thinking. BN will loose. Its just the margin. You cannot fight the information age.

    Since Najib selfishly allocated 42 billion to himself at the PM’s department leaving crumbs for the others. It is a certainity his UMNO clan are after his blood. He may win Pekan, but the rest of Malaysia will go to the opposition. When you dont have the capability you should respectively decline the position. Rosmah and Najib were clamouring for the cheque book. Malaysia and its people are tired and broke. Its end of days for Najib and co. Goodbye.

  5. #5 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - 2:41 am

    His inability to arrest corruption, lukewarm reforms and indecisiveness (proneness to flip-flopping) characterize his mediocre performance.

  6. #6 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - 7:45 am

    Since we are speaking of enlightened leadership. An example why Najib’s administration is simply the intellectualism of bumpkin is the discussion of debt level.

    Anwar criticism of Najib leadership is a debt that has gone from RM200b to RM500b. Their retort is that the economy has grown and that as a percentage of GDP it has only increased from 50% to 55% (not counting contingency)..

    The point really is that given the high Malaysian growth recently, growth of debt SHOULD NOT have kept paced with GDP much less exceeded it.. Its clear indication that much of the so called ‘tranformation’ is fiscally and monetarily driven, not productivity, NOT TRANSFORMATION..

    An enlightened leadership would have realized that but instead keep blustering about ‘his plan’..Clearly they expect the people, the common man, even the lowest rung in our society, to be enlightened AHEAD of them..

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - 8:01 am

    Bakri says Najib picks the wrong lieutenants but forgets it is the lieutenants that within his party pick him. And who picks these lieutenants? The very same delegates from the ruling party in turn voted in in a general election based on what money they could spend and their clarion calls in name of race and/or religion. Indeed TDM himself said that politicians who played the race card appeared the successful ones. He ought to know. He was successful for 22 years. If 1st premier Tunku was inclusive and well respected what happened to him? TDM was more successful and kept power longer. It is easy then for Bakri to blame leaders; that they fail to inspire but he totally ignores who votes and installs them based on what criteria. At the end of the day is there not truth in the old political axiom, “People get the kind of government they deserve – or should it not be said in a so called democracy of 1 man 1 vote the majority of voters get the government they deserve by their choices? The sad part of it is that if majority get the government they want, the minorities are the ones dominated and suffer the pain of “democracy” which if unbearable their only choice (outvoted) is to shift out by voting with their feet!

  8. #8 by monsterball on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - 8:13 am

    I wonder why Bakri has never been chased by political parties..since he is so smart?
    Is he aiming to be a Dean…or Chancellor in a U?

  9. #9 by Sallang on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - 8:43 am

    Malaysian talents in Australia have been urged to come home to serve the country by our DPM.
    They are surely better ‘durians’. They will replace all the cabinet ministers when he becomes PM.
    Unfortunately, most of them are non-Malays. How?

  10. #10 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - 9:17 am

    Trouble with jib is the fake smile he manifested through those fake pinkish lips – lips that no one likes or trust, well errr except fat mama ros, of course.


  11. #11 by SENGLANG on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - 10:56 am

    Yet again we have seen how stupid look like when Cor give his answer in Parliament yesterday the Batu Caves 26 storey condo. We do not have leaders that are brave enough to admit the wrong even though the mistake made was so obvious and clear cut. Worst still the person who was part of the team who has a hand on its approval try to use the mistake on put blame on the other with the sole intention to gather political support and hoping inflict political harm on the other.
    To tell the people that the ministry to quicken the approval of development project simply because people are complaining of its slow approval process with out due consideration on whether the project has been fully in compliance with all the preset conditions are simply mind boggling.

    Few days back the shameless PM himself say that the project will be scrapped but only if the Selangor people return power to BN? What kind of logic is that. PM has the power now, if he was of the opinion that the project is bad what he need the people vote them back before he scrape the project? It was this kind of BN logic that have put the people away from them. Can’t any one in BN see this? That why the people with common sense has come to hate BN. As a leader you need not keep threaten the people in order to get their supports.

    As to the Batu CAves Project, we all know how the project has been approved. The best summary can be read in the Sun paper by Mr. Nades, he has summed it nicely how the project for that matter under BN has been approved. This project is MIC project and the main people off course from MIC. It was very very unfortunate but it is good that the same people who has approved the project has come out to protest it. The people can see for themselves what colour these people carry. When they approve any project they are thinking of themselves how much they can get a return from the approval but the people interest is their least concern. That the way it works under BN

  12. #12 by waterfrontcoolie on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - 11:26 am

    When we talk of Enlightened Leaders, we can only make that conclusion over time. In our case, because of False Pride and Greed, our so-called Enlightened One took us for a long ride during the 22 years of his regime. First of all, he planned for the destruction of the very Community he claimed to help by removing all those who asked questions which he could not justify nor answer. He equipped the party with people who would shout and threaten the rest of the nation by dividing the nation into racial groups. How would one even put such leaders as national leaders when they spend most of time adding percentage to national projects by the folds. The false pride was generated and covered by the very leaders who spend their time scheming and bluffing the innocent Malaysians whose view is being permeated through 3rd class politically motivated education. And unless the majority of the nation has awaken to this, we gonna stay with such scenario for a long, long time!

  13. #13 by tak tahan on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - 4:34 pm

    John Lee has described how Anwar has almost single-handedly created a multi-racial movement and thus I too support Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister when Pakatan Rakyat wins Federal Power.
    And why not Hadi Awang as Prime Minister. PAS may believe in multi-racialism but then for them there is discrimination based on religion and non-Muslims has a lower status than Muslims.-well said by 22 year old John Lee.


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