Smart, visionary leaders committed to mindset change the way forward in Malaysian politics
It is good to note that there are diverse views and debates as to how the Malaysian political scene can bring about a “new Malaysia”.
Former Malaysian diplomat, Dennis Ignatius, had called for older politicians to step aside and make way for younger leaders.
On the other hand, academician Prof Dr Tajuddin Rasdi is of the opinion that “New Malaysia can only come about through the painful birth process of a transition between old and young leaders, as well as Muslim versus Malaysian, leadership”.
Reading Tajuddin’s opinion in a Malaysian daily, he seems to suggest that political changes in the country cannot be achieved if “Malay sensitives” are not addressed.
He gave various examples, which apparently had not gone down well with the Malays – such as the Rome Statute issue – and had brought about the downfall of Pakatan Harapan (PH).
I would opine that the main reason PH fell was because of poor leadership, due to the weak structure within PH itself.
If PH had strong and cohesive leadership, dealing with issues like the Rome Statute and others, would have been a cakewalk.
Tajuddin seems to argue that only someone with “Malay and Muslim credentials” can “change” Malaysia and the Malays.
Under the current political circumstances, only a Malay Muslim can rise to the highest position in this country. That’s a given.
However, when you talk about creating a “new Malaysia”, there are several important factors to consider – other than a Malay Muslim leader.
Firstly, what kind of new Malaysia do you have in mind? Something that is “more Malay and more Islamic”? Whatever that means.
The notion of what kind of “Malay-ness” and what kind of Islam you want to create in the country is important.
This, therefore, will depend on the second factor – the quality of the leader itself.
If the leader is a political animal, we cannot expect substantial changes in society because he may end up being a populist, and a chameleon.
He may not have the moral courage, intellectual strength, and the political will to bring about radical changes needed to move the country forward and improve the people’s general wellbeing in the long run.
A Malay Muslim leader, who is going to forever pander to the so called “Malay Muslim sensitivities” for political expediency, will not bring about a much awaited “new Malaysia”.
Thirdly, we need a Malay Muslim leader with a true vision (and not one who copies someone else’s) which he believes is good for the country.
So, you need someone with brains, not just the academically qualified.
Of course, you will have advisors around you, but you must have the ability to look at things from different perspectives, possess macro-level thinking, even be prophetic, to a certain extent.
For this to happen, one must be a thinker, and as multi-knowledgeable as possible, and humble enough to learn as he/she leads.
I am fully aware and accept that pragmatically, the majority of the polity is Malay Muslim, and hence, you can manipulate them for power’s sake.