KJ John on Great Leadership

October 21, 2016

KJ John on Great Leadership

by Dr. KJ John


Great leadership is only when all community leaders of Malaysia, whether appointed, elected, or voluntary choose to put nation-state interests above their own and ‘Serve to Lead’ our nation out of the current quagmire.–KJ John

Image result for Dr Mahathir a Great Leader?

For all his faults, contradictions and paradoxes, Dr. Mahathir is Malaysia’s Great Leader and he comes from my state Kedah–Din Merican

Premised upon my last three columns on patriotism, a small debate ensued on Facebook about whom or what defines good or great leadership. This column is my response to that query, but I would like to address it from a perspective of an RMC Old Putera, the alumni of the Royal Military College (RMC); our alma mater.

All Old Puteras were trained to ‘Serve to Lead’, or ‘Berkhidmat Memimpin’. The unasked question is who then do we serve and lead? Every Saturday, at the parade square, we actually saluted the flag of the federation, what is now called the ‘Jalur Gemilang’. Therein lay the answer as to whom we were called and taught to serve or seek to lead.

From good to great

Many books have been written about the two words ‘good versus great’. ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins is one very popular one. In the nineties, ‘Built to Last’ was published about great companies with good work ethics and a mature performance culture. But the question remained, what about the company which is not born with a great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

“For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?”

I can fully understand why most authors, writers, and scholars shy away from the word, ‘good’. When a Nicodemus, a teacher of the laws of Israel, approached Jesus and asked the question by night, “Good Teacher, how do I inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded with another question: “Why do you call me good; only God is good”.

Therefore, for human systems or organisations like companies or countries, it is easier to talk about being great places for good to great experiences. In fact, Robert Levering, another researcher, as a sequel to ‘In Search of Excellence’ by Peters and Waterman, wrote ‘A Great Place to Work’:

“Good workplaces are worth examining if for no other reason than that they enrich the lives of the people working there. Everyone, after all, would prefer working in a pleasant environment to an unpleasant one. Since most of us spend the greater part of our waking hours at work, this is no small matter.”

Great leadership in Malaysia

Image result for douglas macarthur on Leadership

What would great leadership in Malaysia look like? Would it just be, “I did it My Way?” which appears to be Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte’s favourite song? Or, is it our Malaysian way of ‘close one eye culture’ of ‘nasi campur’ – all and sundry meshed together on the same plate, but very delicious to the stomach and human desires? While palatable, it may not be good either for health or body?

What is the kind and quality of good leadership for Malaysia; of the ‘Serve to Lead’ kind? To answer this question, first we need to define the units of analysis to peg the problem definition at its core and essence.

Malaysia is a federation

Any federation is a coming together, a willing one, of many parts to make a whole greater than the sum of its parts. That means the whole federation is a unit of analysis greater that all its parts. We are not a confederation either. A confederation is the coming together of small groups of constituent sub-wholes to make a greater whole. The European Union (EU) is more like a confederation.

For example the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers is a confederation of many industry associations and they come together as a greater whole to dialogue and take concerns with the government or any other party.

Neither are we a unitary state like the Philippines or Indonesia. They have no states with legal existence; except for the newly-created autonomous zones of Aceh, or the Muslim South areas of Mindanao. In Indonesia, post the tsunami, Aceh was made an autonomous zone because of the unique problems they faced.

Image result for Najib Malaysia's Most Corrupt politician

Najib Razak is Malaysia’s Most Corrupt Politician  but no Leader, Amen

Malaysia is a therefore a federation of three constituent parts; of the two Borneo States, and the Federation of Malay States. Our whole is greater but the sum of the parts is not 13 or 14; whichever way we argue it, but rather three constituent parts, since Singapore left in 1965.

Parliamentary and constitutional democracy

While nine feudal Malay kingdoms came together to make the Federation of Malaya with two Straits Settlements in 1957, our system of governance was designed, developed, and crafted to become a constitutional democracy. The Parliament defines our laws; both in letter and spirit.

Then, in 1963, when the new Borneo States with Singapore came together to make or form the bigger reality called Malaysia; it was not merely a linear projection of the Merdeka Democracy. It really is an improvement of our parliamentary and constitutional democracy of the four, and later, three states to become a brand new whole greater than the sum of its three parts.

The Federal Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Federation, and it defines all else, including the structure, format, and principles of how our democracy is to be framed, shaped, and continue to be improved.

Anything that detracts from the supremacy of this Federal Constitution, including new developments through the specific interpretation of a Wahhabi form of Islam, or a Shiite-Sufi Islam cannot be included simply because of the tyranny of a majority. The constitution reigns supreme.

Constitutional monarchy

Image result for Malaysia's King

A Gallery of Malaysia’s Constitutional Monarchs

This past week we had the meeting of the Rulers-in-Council; these include all nine Malay State Rulers, plus politically appointed ‘Malay’ governors, or the other four legitimate entities and their respective politically elected heads of state. All such meetings and protocols are well enshrined protocols within the constitution.

What is not well enshrined by the Federal Constitution can be considered as traditional Malay customs or culture from their historic system of feudal governance of these nine respective states.

Great leadership is only when all community leaders of Malaysia, whether appointed, elected, or voluntary choose to put nation-state interests above their own and ‘Serve to Lead’ our nation out of the current quagmire. May God continue to forgive our ignorance and arrogance.

Image result for malaysia flag in Dataran Malaysia

Image result for Malaysia

(This column is dedicated as my prayer for the future of the nation-state, especially for my grandson who turns two years of life as a Malaysian living in this country we love.)


17 thoughts on “KJ John on Great Leadership

  1. ” For all his faults, contradictions and paradoxes, Dr Mahathir is Malaysia’s Great Leader …… .” – John


  2. “… Dr. Mahathir is Malaysia’s Great Leader..”

    I care not that he built the phallic Twin Towers, the Sepang F1 Circuit, etc. One may even attribute the North-South highway infrastructure to his credit. I care that he did not build the infrastructure (roads, electricity & water) for the poor folks on the East coast. Actually with the US dollars gushing in from oil, it was almost impossible for him not to succeed.

    On his debit side, he created a M’sia far from the ideal planned by his predecessors. In fact, he left a lot of damages to repair by the generations to come. Overall, it is impossible to call him a Great Leader.

  3. Exactly, we can see Wrongways suffering from a sense of acute psychological mental disorder, because he wants desperately to go into the China=Rocket Co Ltd , of which, none or very few in the world are interested to pry into.

    Very soon, Psychosomatic disorder will get into his system , and he wants sick-minded people to get hooked there…… If he wants the Rocketry system to lead to the planet Mars , we all might get roasted in that hot planet ….

    Go , try , yes try your luck there ! Good luck !

  4. Your ‘ apa ….apa …’ , is a ” Penyakit Kusta ” , and the more you scratch , the more you will want to scratch on the same part of your body , there’s no cure wrongways……. ask the Doctor , he will advise you to be settled in the leper outfit in Sg Buloh ! – Inggeris is leprosy or something ?

    But, at least you are free from the psychosomatic bodily affliction , which from the beginning , was the disorder the doctor thought it to be…., now, your can safely scratch on , on and on ….without anyone stopping you in perpetuity ? So carry on…….

  5. You are a pain in the neck for every body here, because you have your own blog Right ways BUT going the Wrongways , by coming into this Din Merican’s Blog , AND DIVERTING TRAFFIC TO YOUR Blog – its highly unethical & unprofessional…. if I may say !
    You have been doing this for a long time here some yrs now. USE YOUR OWN BLOG , to retain a modicum of respect for yourself ! Have a sense of Self respect , if you want people to respect you….. ( sorry to have to say this , but there are nastier words , if you persist ? )

  6. If I may add – its called the tort of ‘passing-off ‘ , for STE…….G the Clientele from someone else’s Blog , because you have your OWN Blog……. Do it there, don’t do it here (you have big, big ideas ) , it affects your professionalism and reputation .

    ( syiok sendiri punya fasal ? ? )

  7. Abnizar, again, your comments are irrelevant to this post on “Great Leadership”, but merely are “attacks” to users, all right minded, rightways included.
    Also, it showed, you don’t understand how Internet work both ways in traffic to win-win results.
    May rightways show you the ways to Asia News Network THE DAILY STAR:
    Quote :
    “… As they understood, human beings are messy, multi-dimensional beings, a tangle of conflicting emotions and capabilities in a messy, ever-changing world. We are who we are by reacting to one another. It’s no wonder that the Chinese leadership is turning to ancient philosophy for support. That’s something to learn from China.”

    Like us Malaysia, China needs strong core leadership: media survey :

  8. No wrongways, you have been repeating over and over again on the great leadership of China , non-stop. You should use your own blog as Rightways . You have big ideas on that one & only topic, which you have be quoting endlessly….ad infinitum …….
    So what you are doing is to come into this world famous Blog of Din-Merican which has millions of followers world-wide, hoping to ENTICE some or few of his Clientele , and make them YOUR Clientele : this is called the tort of ‘ passing off ‘ –

    You are causing not only distractions here, but Irritation ……by your same repititive
    glorification on China…..hoping to ‘ steal ‘ few of din-merican’s Clientele…..

    I doubt very much that you understand the implications…. ? you only want to ‘win results’ , because many will suspect that your Blog is ” empty ” , no one responding there, so you have to come here ……? You are patently unethical because you have your OWN Blog to ENTICE whoever desires to follow you…..

    (hope you understand ‘ tort ‘ , its a civil offence …..)

  9. No substance Abnizar, your attacks are totally uncalled for, irrelevant, out of context on the subject about “Great Leader” of this post, really a disgrace to the host, must be due to ignorance of Internet of Things.

    Our Malay Sultans, and the host too, have no problem of a strong China when the great Admiral Zhang-He came to Malaysia.

    Abnizar got mindset problem, let us help liberating his mindset.
    Thanks for making me famous!

  10. Yes carry on as you please Wrongways , as you have your own Blog Rightways , you are only Discrediting your self more and more……

    Famous ? yes for the wrong reasons , it shows you are paranoid over something unexplainable , between rightways and wrongways , whither goest thou ?

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