Over the decades, the quality and ability of leaders in the Malaysian political arena have come under a cloud.
While the Atlantic powers, the United States and Western Europe have long produced leaders and statesmen of world stature to move their nations forward, Malaysia too has a great leader in Tunku Abdul Rahman who spearheaded the movement to obtain independence from the ruling British colonialists.
But somehow, after wresting independence from the British, and with the premature exit of the Tunku, subsequent Malaysian prime ministers have produced mixed fortunes for the country.
The leadership qualities which the Tunku possessed could possibly be attributed to him having been greatly influenced by British traits. It is no secret that many of the Tunku’s values, convictions and principles were strong depictions of the values of the British.
But after the Tunku stepped down as prime minister, the subsequent changes and styles of leadership have brought about haphazard changes to Malaysia.
If Malaysians are now in a quandary over their future, it is a situation not without basis. In the coming 13th general election, the nation is set to witness a fierce “battle royale” between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat.
The stage has been set for this decisive encounter but many diehard political pundits are unsure as to what the final outcome will be like.
However, what is of greater concern to Malaysians is the nature, behaviour, quality and capability of political aspirants to lead the rakyat.
Motivated by self-interest
Of late, Malaysians, no matter which side of the political divide they support, have noticed that quite a number of Malaysian politicians lack integrity and ability.
Many Malaysians now tend to agree that there is a lack of capable leaders to steer the country forward. Those politicians who are eager to lead are invariably motivated by self-interest and self-seeking ambition.
This is precisely why there are non-political figures who have emerged on the scene to help “put things right”. In past general elections, Malaysians have always endorsed politicians, but now they are beginning to lend support to the voices of leaders outside the political arena.
The Malaysian Bar, Bersih, Suaram and other NGOs and organisations are beginning to overshadow elected representatives. This is because more and more Malaysians have come to believe that corruption has destroyed the trust people placed in those holding political office.
If they do not openly state it, it is understandable. But Malaysians, irrespective of race or religion, education or social status, are now becoming more convinced that the political candidates on offer do not meet the expectations and hopes of the rakyat.
Perhaps what Malaysians want, after having been under BN rule for so many decades, are capable leaders who will do what is expected of them to move the nation forward.
The nation today finds itself in a dire predicament because it has to put up with leaders who want to do things their way. They want to place self-interests above those of the people.
Without fear or favour
Malaysians are not the only ones who have cast doubts over the political direction of the country; the international community too has openly voiced concern over the policies implemented in the country.
While Malaysian leaders might like to contend that the country is a sovereign state and will not tolerate any meddling in its domestic affairs, it pays to listen carefully to what these “meddlers” are saying.
By doing so, the leaders can put to rest any allegations levelled against them.
It is imperative that changes be made in the selection of candidates for the coming general election; otherwise, the country will become a failed state.
Malaysians should choose their leaders without fear or favour and support those who can deliver the goods. Candidates with tainted background should be removed. Only those willing to sacrifice and serve the people should command the respect and recognition of Malaysians to safeguard and strengthen the future of the nation.
Christopher Fernandez has been teaching and writing throughout Asia since 1984.