Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Who Can Lead Us?

A frequent reader of CRANKSHAFT dropped by and left a comment in response to my post, Malaysia Is In Distress:

..I am at a loss as to how to get our country going again .. put an end to corruption and be governed by people with integrity who have the citizens' welfare at heart. Can anyone think of such a leader?

It is a pertinent question indeed, Fergie.

In the face of a glaring lack of leadership, we yearn for someone to fill in the space. In his own words, this guy says he wouldn’t mind having Hishammuddin Hussein as the Prime Minister.

I've probably agreed with him numerous times over his opinion of Abdullah Badawi - heck, I think half the country thinks he should vacate his seat as PM. In fact, I think it is a miracle of brown-wooly-mammoth-proportions that Abdullah is still in office.

But under no circumstances am I going to vote Hishammuddin Hussein into office. With his keris-waving stunts, he has certainly not endeared himself to me.

Even Malik Imtiaz Sarwar has taken to dark ruminations about statemanship and the lack of faith in any political candidate in Malaysia to run this country the way it should be run.

To steal his thunder, is there a statesman in the house?

Of course there is. In fact, there are many. Because of the many shortcomings of our leaders, we are fooled into thinking we are just as incompetent.

But if the truth be told, I think most of us are even better than some of our foreign counterparts from the USA, Australia and Europe. After having worked abroad, I personally find myself to be on par with my contemporaries.

And yet, compared to some of my Malaysian friends, I am in fact, a shrinking violet.

But most of these friends of mine have made plans or are making plans to move on to greener pastures. A place where we are accepted for who we are and the skills we bring.

Not what ethnic group we belong to, or which God we worship.

And the fact is, Malaysians are incredibly mobile, adaptable and versatile. We're practically in every corner of the planet.

We're in demand because of our skills all over the world - except for Malaysia, that is, where what is more important is who you know and rub shoulders with, and what colour your skin is.

So why doesn't a competent Malaysian stand up and take charge of bringing about change?

For starters, that's easier said than done. Most self-respecting Malaysians wouldn't want to be associated with politics. And why would they, when politics is more about rambling nincompoops with sole expertise in sodomy, corruption and brown-nosing than leading a nation?

Politics, all over the world, is dirty, but in Malaysia, it is the very depths of the cesspool.

That being said, I still think we have hope.

There are young potentials involved in politics like Hannah Yeoh, Nathaniel Tan and Nik Nazmi.

And for what it's worth, leaders aren't born, they're made. When young Malaysians start seeing people they'd want to emulate, only then will we start seeing talent within the political pool - and perhaps, world-class statesmen.

Until then, it's going to be a long way uphill.


Anonymous said...

HHhmmm...maybe we malaysians are so adaptable and mobile bcos of the environment that we grew up in......insecure and unstabil...hence the nurturing of the survival instinct, huh?

Michelle said...

We're right to hope, I believe. Hope and faith are the only things that still belong to us. Lose that, and we lose everything.

Hitam Had said...

Good question Miss C, who indeed is capable of leading Malaysia out of the chaos we allowed to be created over the last half century?

Of course we have many capable Malaysians who are able to lead, but that is only part of the equation. We also need Malaysians who can agree with their leaders' vision of the future and will support their leaders' mission to achieve it; and allow themselves to be led there wholeheartedly.

For example, even an army with the best equipment and the best Generals cannot win any battles let alone a war if the army is poorly trained, under paid, lacks ethics and discipline, corrupt, demoralised, and tainted with nepotism which inhibits ambition and advancement.


fergie said...

Thank you for your intelligent article, Crankshaft. I don't think "uprooting" is a solution cos whichever country we emigrate to we will be considered 2nd-class citizens. My whole family emigrated to Australia in 1969 and didn't seem much happier. I, however, chose to remain in Malaysia, with no regrets. I am now 60 and still hope to see an intelligent and honest leader from amongst the younger generation of Malays. I know of many but they aren't into politics. I think our present leader is the most "blur" since Merdeka.

walla said...

What's happening now is the fissure within the ranks of the malays is growing. The split in politics combined with the pressure in economics has deepened their doubts and increased their reflex action to surround their wagons of racial rights and religious supremacy.

We have seen all this before but this time it is more pronounced. An air of desperation prevails.

More importantly, each time this blame and threat happen, brain drain increases momentum. That's why letters like this: ring true.

IMD's Garelli wrote last month that the world may be facing a third wave of globalization. Between 1985 to 2000, companies focused on cheap goods and services which they sourced from countries like India, China, Mexico, Brazil and SEAsia. The result was that prices went down and deflation crept in. He surmised that between 2000 and 2020, a second wave is taking place. Because those emerging countries are getting wealthier, the number of their middle class people is increasing. This loads demand which thus swings deflation over to inflation. Such as we are seeing today. He thinks that the third wave of globalization will come up even faster when those emerging countries themselves go global which means global competition and tension will become more acute.

If we accept this scenario, the most important thing we must have are brains because the global competition will certainly be more than about competing for a small piece of rock island. It will for instance be about whose twenty-year-olds will be able to apply things like:

So where are we now in nurturing and retaining brains? There must be something that we are doing right when the vc of a university can tell the mb of a state to use his brains so that the university, funded from taxes paid by all, can continue to restrict its intake to one race. When inter-racial intellectual interactions are the in-thing to inspire intelligence, one wonders whose brains have yet to be taxed as much as the incredible patience and tolerance of the rakyat.

It remains to say many of the future generations of this country will have to make our own paradigm shift in the way we think about our existence in this world. To be able to improve each generation, one may have to resign oneself to be permanent nomads, forever floating from one country to another. Maybe by then the third wave of globalization will turn this world around so that what is a 'country' disappears in the melt of cross-border 'markets'. Ohmae's invisible continent? Who knows?

Let us take some comfort. Is it really that important to be a citizen of a country? The third wave speaks about sovereign funds behaving like transnational entities with their own boards acting like 'governments' in all but name. In such a context, loyalty of the individual shifts more from country to company. Ask someone working for a multinational firm, and that's exactly what has happened. So many of the waking hours are spent tussling with global business issues that lining up to pay taxes or collect a form to get a rebate seems minor by comparison. And if your government politely shoos you out of the district clinic so that it will have one patient less to wait another five months for a free set of dentures, the whole notion of nationality and belonging become something almost trite compared to the imperative of surviving and saving for a future generation by personal resilience alone.

Amidst all these concerns, looking at the breakdown of almost everything from economy to infrastructure to education, health, security, savings and political stability, the rakyat can only do two mutually symbiotic things - work to leave, and vote to change.

When the malays themselves start to realize that their zero-sum game play will only leave them with a hollow shell for a country, their own who can will also join the exodus.

Hopefully by then, sanity will prevail and a few good men will come up to heal and turn this tide.

But if we extrapolate the present bunch of monkeys, i think not.

That's why one should not think only governments can flip-flop. The rakyat too can do the same. Today, flip to this banner, tomorrow if it is found to be shitty, flop back to another. If that doesn't send the ants down their loins, one may have to take heftier measures.

Lobotomy and sodomy are recommended.

Crankshaft said...

Anon - absolutely.

Michelle - hope, in my opinion, is the foundation of what comes to pass.

Hitam Had, the majority of the public consists of people who don't think much or deeply. What appeals to them is charisma rather than depth of character. Thus, we need leaders with a combination of both.

If the good leaders manage to convey and transfer their vision even to the stupid Malaysians, then there will be progress. "How to do so" is what we need to figure out.

Fergie, my family has all migrated, too - with the exception of a small number who have stubbornly decided to remain. Good for you, choosing to stick your ground.

Walla - brilliant comment, but I can't open the second link, the Bertham one.

walla said...



then: Volume 1, then the 1st article.


Crankshaft said...

Walla, how do you know it was written by a 20 year old? Pretty impressive paper, though.

walla said...

i didn't, and it probably wasn't but i used it to illustrate that by the time the third wave hits, we better have twenty-year olds who can do so..otherwise macam mana?

ps: i used to edit IEM technical journals (not the newsletters); by any chance proud of me??

Crankshaft said...

Oh yes. Though I think there are 20 yr olds who do stuff like that. They just don't live in Malaysia.

P.S. Very proud. :) I once published a paper in the UTM jurnal mekanikal when I was 23.

We're so into bragging today, aren't we? :p

walla said...

that so to compensate for yours truly (and handsomely) being clobbered in another blog...sigh, these days appreciation of off-the-charts-IQs is so underpanned. ;P

Crankshaft said...

What does 'underpanned' mean? And which blog? :)

walla said...

roti canai on you, then will say.

Crankshaft said...

You're on.