Longing for Enlightened Leaders

November 20, 2012

Longing for Enlightened Leaders

by Dr. M.Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill, California

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 KPIs 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 Thus far no Cabinet Minister has voluntarily withdrawn from being an electoral candidate.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.

UMNO 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 (right) 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 (left). 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, Rastam, 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, the DPM 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, Rastams, 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.

39 thoughts on “Longing for Enlightened Leaders

  1. UMNO and Najib should take heed. Get rid of inept and corrupt from positions of power. Transformation must be begin from inside. Yes, Najib should emulate Deng and FDR, or even Barack Obama. There is no shortage of transformational leaders to learn from. De Gaulle, Churchill, Menzies,Thatcher and Merkel are among them.

    The Prime Minister must keep his promise to make Malaysia great. End corruption and crony capitalism. It is not a bad idea to remove the present A-G and the MACC chief, as suggested by Dr. Bakri Musa.–Din Merican

  2. Din,disagree with you. Najib should emulate Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore.More relevant to us as multi-racial country.

    To get rid of Abu Kassim and Gani.Not that easy.How do you expect the thief to get rid of policeman in Police station?

    Najib must get rid of Rosmah first before he can become good PM.
    Rosmah is his wife. She is loyal and protective of the PM.But she has an image problem and that can be fixed.Let us see what Najib can do.–Din Merican

  3. With the impending elections, the options are no longer Najib’s. Malaysians deserve a total revamp, not just Najib doing a cosmetic makeover but installing a new team to move the country into the future. That is for Malaysians to decide.

    We do not need ageing politicians brandishing tired old ideas. Mahathir did have the energy and the vision but he overstayed, and he was for too long surrounded by a team that ended as his errand boys but making the most for themselves and their families at the same time.

    The records will show that these leaders took became PMs or CM at relatively young age: Lee Kuan Yew (36) Mahathir (56) Taib Mahmud (45) Tunku Abdul Rahman (54). Looking at the current pool of the young and potential leaders from among the Pakatan Rakyat, even the BN ranks, the country is not short of good talent.

    Unfortunately with Najib he is caught in a situation of the mother crab trying to teach the younger ones how to walk straight. The whole of the system under the BN stinks and it should be changed lock stock and barrel.

    To be effective and sustainable, transformation and change can only be from the outside.

  4. “Rosmah is loyal and protective of the PM”.
    Behind every great man is a woman. And Mrs N fits that to a tee.

    If only Siti Hasmah was even a little bitty bit like Rosy and checked her husband’s dictatorial tendencies and involved herself with government business all those 22 years, perhaps Bolehland would have been a much different place today.

  5. Najib is already bad in fixing this country. Now you want him to fix Rosmah! you’re kidding or what? It will be his worst nightmare and don’t be surprised that it’s Rosmah that is fixing Najib, hehe.

  6. Din : ” Rosmah has an image problem “. Are you being metaphorical or describing her silhouette ? Perhaps a few stints of pole dancing may go a long way in getting rid of the latter. My little kid loves her for filling up the TV screen.

  7. Dr Bakri misunderstands, although he means well.

    It’s not that Jibs is unwilling – he’s just incapable. Comparisons made with Deng and FDR, will do little to prise him of his paralysis. Fear and mediocrity demands that he goes with the flow. His ideas are from advisers/consultants bred in the same mould as him, and although ‘post-modern’ in approach – with all those acronyms, have little inkling that mega-projects and deals don’t necessarily filter down to the common man. Some of these projects have long-term benefits – but the most glaring symptoms, signs, weaknesses and effects of a kleptocratic, corrupt, inefficient and incompetent regime are being neglected. Nay, even reinforced.

    That is the innate nature of the man who is afraid and tends to play to his rogues gallery to beg for support, because he lacks the intellect, force of will and the charisma of a true transformational leader. At best he joins the rank of a cub reporter and would never make it to a King’s scout. To survive, he needs mentors and wet-nurses. The prime of whom is FLOM. Any questions?

  8. Najib to produce his “shadow” cabinet for the public to judge? Dr. Bakri has turned the table for the ruling party – which ruling party in a similar parliamentary system has done this? What about the PR “shadow” cabinet? The public is still in the dark not knowing what kind of characters will be picked by PR to run the country if their dream were to come true. This shows the bias of Dr. Bakri in his attack of generalities despite the few quoted cases of named ministers & heads of the MACC and AG chamber just to show a semblance of being specific to spice up his negative stance.

  9. If indeed Najib wants get rid of aging leaders who Would replace them? Can anybody think of next echelons of good quality young leaders in umno? Are there any?Besides saifudin and khairy
    There are lot in pakatan though

  10. Wonder whether Bakri is humouring Najib or simply trying to make him look good by comparing him to Deng and FDR. These two leaders are miles ahead of this puny fella who can’t even control his wife, for Pete sake. You want him to transform Bolehland to Tak Bolehland? It’s like asking Al Kutty to return to Kerala.

  11. nothing is going to change because they know change will mean their downfall so they prefer to go down with the sinking ship. sad

  12. The current BN situation is the fruit of kutty’s over 2 decades of authocratic rules. He wanted the “goons” to be at the top, so that he will rule over them, and that is what they are also doing to our education system, make everyone a goon, so that their dynasties can rule for ever. Thanks to the smart kutty who open up malaysia to the cyberworld, which also expose the “good things” bn has done to the country over the past 5 decades.
    To revamp the bn means drastic measures have to be taken, before our beloved country goes further down. Bless our country for a good leader.

  13. Get of Najib first before any other person because he is the chief. When you have a incapable chief, they certainly would not be any brilliant assistants around.

  14. Bakri is too kind and polite about Najib. The obvious fact is that Najib is totally incompetent, incapable and indifferent with a spouse of similar talents who thinks otherwise. With their Mongolian & Scorpene baggages and more, he is riding the tiger and can’t get off.

  15. The single biggest problem with UMNO is its Constitution. Its voting structure disallows new blood to join them. Entry barrier is very high.
    The incumbents will stay on. Najib cannot do much. His hands are tied. If he tries to change, they will stab him from the back.
    UMNO needs to transform. Open the doors for new blood to join. Amend the Constitution. Let the members vote the leaders they want. Open up. Stop this practice of having only the divisional members eligible to vote.
    If UMNO wants to see the light of the day, the coming General Assembly must tranform the entire network of UMNO. A facelift won’t do. New and capable leaders must be elected. Winnable candidates must not be the only criterion.
    Lets see whether Najib can do it.

  16. “Najib has not demonstrated any ability or inclination to clean up his administrative house.” Bakri Musa

    Cleaning up his act or his house would mean having to throw Rosmah Mansor out the back door. No can do.

  17. “Lets see whether Najib can do it.” — Syed Tamin

    Syed Tamin from Sime Darby, former Second Collegian, DrKam’s ‘alma mater’??

    You raised the bar too high for this Najib. But then Najib is hen-pecked and hen-pecked husbands are very aggressive, mean spirited in their work place. That has been proven time and time again.

  18. “Rosmah is his wife. She is loyal and protective of the PM” — Dato Din Merican

    Yes, Rosmah is a stand up girl who stands by her man. Why not? When she wears both the skirt and the pants?

  19. Sorry to bust your bubbles, you see Najib inherited a party that has long lost it’s shelf life.Starting with Mahathir,he program it in such a way that to him the Malays has no choice but to vote Umno,he started giving clutches to Malays and most suck up to him when he actually knows their predicted downfall.

    You see it’s easier to steal from people whom you feed and ” bestow Freedom “( those cronies of his ) than to more smarter Malays.Once you’ve tasted the Honey given by Mahathir/Umno, you’re dead meat.

    With that in mind, the brilliance of Mahathir’s political mind is astounding except that it was applied to such corruptive evilness & sway that it takes my breath away,to say I know how his mind works is egoistic on my part but like they say, I’ve dance with the Devil & have always given him my honest thoughts while those around him/me says otherwise,my opinion given has never weaved coz it was given without any agenda.

    Perhaps one day,I will tell it all.As far as I’m concerned,Najib has and always been without a backbone,he will not change Umno and those around him in Umno ( though they know ) will not change themselves,they feel they are in a safe place,being licked from the toe up. To survive Umno must die, and to be reborn again in another Mode…..Oouch!!!
    If this is your assessment of Najib, then he will never make it. But you could be completely wrong. He is not a Mahathir but then who needs another Mahathir. Why? Times have changed and we have matured and are more democratic. A man who appears to be weak and vacillating can turn to be a good leader once he is secure in his position as UMNO President.

    To me the next UMNO GA will be critical to him. His speech will be listened to and analysed for clues of what he will be if he is re-elected. He must seize the moment. Communicate the doable, not platitudes and more slogans. He must appeal to the strength of his party and its original objectives. Not more of the same tired “Malay under threat” ideas.–Din Mericn

  20. Btw They have adifferent agenda, the countries need is irrelevant. They perpetuate whatever is needed for their survival and this current formula “works” for their survival. Time to change the public servants. Who cares if Umno doesnt allow new blood to perpetuate their mind set and ways, remember what happened in Russia to the Czar? Things that dont work any longer must be eliminated. After all, isnt that their mind set?

  21. The only to find light with UMNO/PAS leaders is to turn them on their asses and shine them with your torchlight. And to do that we will appoint Hussin, Hamid and Hasan aka Zul.

  22. Its too late for Najib even if he sees the light. His mistake was when he was gaining personal political capital, he spent it trying to help his party rather than to do surgery on it – because Badawi tried and paid a heavy price for it. Intellectually his failure happened then and there and there was no turning back nor second chance.

    There is no way Najib will do better than Badawi at the polls, which in fact means that he is doing worst because not only is the electoral fraud worst but the cost is so much higher. UMNO just not going to put up with it..

    If there is any more significant enligtenment in this country now, it has to come from the rakyat, even PR and Anwar is at or near their limits already..

  23. I doubt the capability of a man whose wife outshines him for the wrong reasons. Najib is one of those man. Not saying that one need to chain one’s wife but do present certain attributes that the wife be submissive especially when others are around.

    Rosmah is not the kind of woman that would play the wifely role but outshining Najib and he can’t say squad. So, how is Najib going to lead. Everyone knew his weakness.

    Do Malaysians want to sit around waiting for Najib to change. It’s going to take a miracle but there again by the time he found his balls, Malaysia is already doomed.

  24. A lot of people are underestimating BN/UMNO’s capability while forgetting that the PR coalition’s instability is being taken for granted or overlooked. The PR is merely a weak and loose coalition of convenience with DAP & PAS as disparate partners which will never compromise on their principles & ideologies. What we see of the PR is only its external wrappings but internally they dream of different dreams while some of their quarelling oozes out of the wrappings into the public arena.

  25. Dear Dato Din, you are so much wiser with your thoughts,but I still stand with my assessment of the guy, sorry Najib, perhaps in another lifetime, & as far as Kak Rosie is concern, am gonna tell you what happen to me 3 mths ago. I woke up shaken after realizing that I was only dreaming, well in that dream, I was on the phone screaming something to a guy from Naza Motors,saying where’s the Ferrari, Kak Rosie is angry and waiting,well in the next scene,there I was riding a superbike with her arms wrap around me,I woke up so fast saying WTF…..wow.!!! that was too close for comfort….terkejut katak dibuatnya…Oouch!!!

  26. Jibby will be alright and fine provided Rossie stay the sideline. Let her husband wears the skipper’s band and ensure the rest of the players focused on the ball…Rossie can play the ‘ball pickers’ role in the team effectively. The team must acquired new coach and sack the old coach from Kerala.

  27. Things that don’t work any longer must be eliminated – that’s right. Its that stupid UMNO=Constitution that might constitute their downfall this time round….. its really outdated !
    It allows for the warlords to have a stranglehold on ‘ power’ – they consist of ‘ yang TAK cerdik pandai’ which Mahathirsm nurtured for his own expediency ( his moto was ‘ yang cerdik-pandai lawan towkay ‘ )

    So right now. BN has their YBs & YABs who are Mentris=besar kepala….they dont learn about the catastrophy of the example of Toyol. & this is going to be a sure sign of ‘ bungkus’ ////
    Well. i bet that ONLY after this pathetic performance of BN in GE13 will they firmly decide to Revamp their outdated document…..?

  28. En Hussin ,no we are not underestimating any party or over estimating for that matter. We have had enough. Change now, even if we have a coalition of “stooges”, then slowly but surely we will start getting democrcay to work as it ought to. We need to start. We are in a rut. The worst kind. Change , then change then change then change again and again and again, according to whosever can serve the public the best of their ability.( and zero tolerance to corruption) Until the time comes when we no longer view change as something out of our reach and fearful for then the people truly will have their power back.

  29. I understand Kathy’s sentiment @6:56am, especially with her having the advantage of seeing Malaysia from the outside. But the repeated changes as proposed will certainly cause a new and more serious problem of instability directly affecting us who are in Malaysia in all aspects of our everyday lives. We do not want changes for the sake of change but changes for the better.
    In other threads, I have repeated that our main problem in Malaysia is corruption. This needs to be addressed. The problem starts with contributions/donations to political parties and it starts with political leadership tacit consent but the problem worsens with leakages to personal pockets mainly because their is a lack of formally accepted regulations to manage those contributions. When it starts at the top, as the fish rots at the head first, the problem filters down to the grass-roots before becoming a widespread disease affecting the whole society. Other countries have laws & regulations to manage these large & small contributions/donations – we need this to be regulated & enforced – the laws need to be looked into. This is one of the changes we need to do as a solution. Changing for change sake will be akin to prescribing a solution which introduces more problems.

  30. Hi En Hussin, there needs ot be a start at change. It is not for the sake of change but fo rthe sake of geeting M’sia out of the Rut she is in. How do stamp out corrupt practices whihc stems form a corrupt mindset so used to getting things without changing the public servants and thier practices? How? Instability of change is much much better than insidous corrupt mindset of the norm now, do you not think So? Yours in a short term change for the sake of winnign the votes but real change has to be painful for it to Greater. Case in point: Our beloved Prophet to destroy the idols was met with sheer violence because those who prayed to the Idols wanted to keep the norm tht works for them.

    That was then, Now? Now we have intelligence and information and the will power to change our very dark circumstances and how do we do that but to take the bitter pill. This phase will be shot lived compared to corrupt practices that have plagued this nation for a long long time. Do you know the amount this corrupt practices has COST the nation? Look at the poor people, look at their lvies closely , look at the man who wants to marry his 12 yr old to a 19 yr old jobless, look at Kelantan with all its crime not spoken off. This is the direct result of a corrupt mind set. I would rather the bitter pill than prolonging a status quo that is an illness to the people.

    BTW do not even worry about the M’sians of other ethnic background, they have had enough too I assure you and if we have a system of fairness and equality of opportunity they will play fair too , every one will have to obey the Rule of Law especially those who are in posiitons of turst to minister the nation.

  31. Kathy @7:39am, I have no disagreement at all with the “ENDS” that Kathy wisely proposed as can be seen from my previous write-ups but, with due respects, I do not think the “MEANS” that she submitted will be suitable or beneficial to the in-country Malaysians who will have to directly face the brunt of any resultant instability adversely affecting all aspects of their lives for the next 5 years. But that does not mean that I am against change per se especially if it is for the better – changes can be implemented internally (within & by the present government) with due regards to public pressure which currently is effectively getting the desired policy changes going. The problem we presently have is that the PR coalition is just not capable and viable to steer Malaysia to further success. The PR coalition partners’ differing ideologies & politically opposed core objectives fuel their incessant quarellings which can only get worse if they were to succeed to be in Putrajaya. Their quarellings will distract them from governance putting unnecessary risks to public interests. Their manifesto, as proven by trends at state level (PR Selangor government) is regarded as not binding promises because it is alleged by PR to be not an official contract – so their promises are empty ones which will mislead the voters to their demise later. Even the choice of whom would be more suitable to serve as the PR prospective PM is being challenged now and not to mention that the PR has not indicated in any manner who will comprise its cabinet (no shadow cabinet yet) and hence the public is deprived of any information to make a rational assessment in this respect – the public is kept in the dark in this matter which is key in deciding the future direction for the country.

    After saying the above, I do feel that we have to agree to disagree on the “MEANS” to achieve the “ENDS” but you have your right, which I respect, to maintain your stance.

  32. Yes we’ll agree to disagree. These are issues that can be resolved. Choosing the next PM is a better ‘problem” than a bunch of public servants who have absolutely no intention of caring for the people at all and using all sorts of reason to still govern and have no intention of cleaning up their act or the corruption that exists.. They have had their chance, no more.

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