We need leaders who focus on the bigger picture

I am disappointed. Probably so are many other Malaysians. Nurul Izzah Anwar’s comments in her interview with Singapore’s Straits Times and her resignation from PAC have drawn widespread emotional reactions.

A much admired public figure, she found her way into the hearts of many Malaysians through her impassioned speeches and unwavering – some might say even heroic – stand on her principles. I fully endorse living principle-centred lives. It is the dire lack of principles in our past leaders that led our country to its present sad state of affairs. And I hope that Pakatan Harapan leaders will steadfastly pursue a principled path of governance, as tough as it may be.

So I applaud Nurul Izzah for being principled. As an individual, she is worthy of great respect. But what about as a leader?

Good leaders inspire hope. When they give up hope, they inadvertently send the message to those who look up to them to give up hope, too.

Good leaders have staying power. They stay for the people, not for themselves, and not even for their party. There will be mammoth challenges, tough calls and cacophonous demands from a myriad of stakeholders. There will be setbacks, and even U-turns.

But good leaders focus on the bigger picture and stay loyal to that larger goal, whatever it takes, however long it takes. A true leader would not throw in the towel at a point where the nation needs more hands on deck. Worse still is starting another fire on the deck.

Pressing priorities face our country, our leaders, and us, the people. We have to rebuild the nation with coffers drained empty by previous leaders. The economic challenge is monumental and unprecedented. It’s tough for ordinary people like us to even begin to imagine what it will take.

There’s also the urgent need to unite the nation in the face of vicious and relentless attempts to tear it apart using race and religion. We cannot afford to be distracted from these priorities. That’s what the enemies of the nation want. To overcome them, we must stay united as a team, and our leaders must stay focused.

The job of a leader is never easy. That’s why a good leader deserves our respect and support. Surely Nurul Izzah can rise to the role of a leader. I hope she does, and that she uses her wits and integrity to bring change from within.

Limli is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.