Rising to the occasion on Sabah rights
Published on: Sunday, September 12, 2021
By: Datuk John Lo
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BLOOMBERG has an article about Malaysia becoming a “failed state” on 8 July 2021. I don’t believe this to be the case. Unfair to compare Malaysia with some failed African states. However, we should look at our own country objectively. The fact of the matter is Malaysia has failed to perform on par with other Asian Tigers, of which Malaysia was one, equal or even better than them, some years ago. Malaysia has fallen behind badly. 

This is a fact which Malaysians must face. Malaysians should/must be seriously concerned this weak performance. Continue in present direction, with no will to face the bitter truth, then the Bloomberg dire warning may well materialize. The other factor is the many systemic failures which have been exposed by the on-going pandemic. This pandemic is a wake-up call for Malaysians as it has stripped naked of the shortcomings of a lot of politicians 

Most of these are applicable for Sabah.

Talking about Africa, there is a new generation of national leaders like newly elected Zambian president Hakainde Hichilema or Paul Kagame of Rwandan who are committed to rid corruption and bring genuine economic development to their countries. These African countries may, like Vietnam, catch up with Malaysia if Malaysian politicians fail to transform their mindsets.


Dissatisfactions/Disillusions with Politicians/Political Parties.

In the midst all the recent political power grab manoeuvrings, I cannot see any profound, positive transformation coming. The political behaviour standard has tumbled further. Like many Malaysians, I am disillusioned. 

Recent political development and social media comments by a cross section of Malaysians are pointing to increasing dissatisfactions with politicians of both side of the political divide. Both major coalitions have had the chance of governing but have failed to set our country with the correct priorities and back to the right track.

Politics of rights, privileges, race, religion, corruption have brought political and economic mess in Malaysia. No doubt a few have benefited but the majority have seen little improvement. Obviously, we are not getting anywhere anytime soon. This political style [it does not qualify as political philosophy] has to change because Malaysians especially the youths, don’t believe or have little faith or respect for majority of current politicians.

How to Judge Politicians’ Leadership? 

As voters, Malaysians should have the right to judge the performance of politicians objectively. To do it, there should be some standards for voters to assess who is good or bad. Let’s look at some qualifications on good political leadership.

[a] Statesmanship.

Meaning of statesmanship is "the ability, qualifications, or practice of a statesman; wisdom and skill in the management of public affairs”. This simple definition is not demanding or stringent, yet there are not many politicians who we can look up to having quality statesmanship. The bench mark is which Malaysian politician has 5pc or 10pc of Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Lee Kuan Yew or Tun Ismail.

The on-going power grab lays bare the absence of statesmanship among Malaysian politicians. In their frenzy, not one of them has remembered to work for Malaysians and Malaysia’s national interest. They were all for themselves, political offices. Our Agong has to remind them this.

Important for Malaysians to judge them for what they really are. 

[b] Political Courage.

Meaning of courage is “the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”. Politicians who shout and rant incoherently or try to play the kampong hero do not have political courage. Political leaders with political courage are those who---[a] dare to speak the truth on things that are being done wrong. There are so many things that aren’t right in Malaysia. [b] dare to differ with their leaders either privately or publicly. There are certain national interest “red lines” which they won’t cross.

Political courage for public good is a rare commodity in Malaysia. 

[c] Economic Leadership.

Economic leadership is “about making the hard policy decisions (meaning unpopular with the electorate) that are for the good of the country, even if it means taking something away from those with a vested interest”. If political courage is a rarity, economic leadership is as rare as a blue moon. 

Can you think back seriously when was the last time a politician has exhibited economic leadership that is worthy of note? None right?

All they talk about is this bantuan, that bantuan as if the Malaysians can go on receiving bantuan all their lives, the government can go on giving bantuan ad infinitum and people still remain poor. [Bantuan during pandemic is understandable]. 

Absolutely the worse for Malaysia is that politicians [especially in West Malaysia] keep on promising people goodies but do not urge them to work hard, save hard. 

In modern times 2 outstanding economic leaders are Deng Xiao Ping and Lee Kuan Yew. Both have, by their leadership and policies, have elevated their countries to world class. In the case of Malaysia, politicians have trashed us lower down.

[d] Moral values.

Moral values “are the behavioural practices, goals, and habits which are validated by the society we're part of. ... Moral values concern themselves with right and wrong.” Need to say more? Look at the number of politicians that have been charged in courts, no remorse their public behaviour. Malaysia’s standard of moral values is unsatisfactorily low, low to the extent that there is a hero worship for politicians who have been charged and/or found guilty of corruption. Which politician has principles?

Management Skills.

Management skills “can be defined as certain attributes or abilities that an executive should possess in order to fulfil specific tasks in an organization. Good management skills are vital for any organization to succeed and achieve its goals and objectives.”

Good leadership quality and management skills are 2 sides of the same coin. For a leader to succeed in elevating the country to world class, he/she must possess outstanding management skills. This, unfortunately, is also a rare commodity in Malaysia. There are some very talented and committed good senior servants but there is just too much self-centred politics, so much so that the many parts in the administrative system have become dysfunctional. 

Young Leaders are Malaysia’s only Hope.

A new Malaysian generation is reaching voting age, better educated, keenly aware of the exploitation by politicians supposedly for their benefits. This Y generation [what more generation Z!] will no longer accept the present political charade. Many present leaders must discontinue their fossilized feudal political game of dishing endless empty promises of bantuan or their political careers will be ended by the new Y generation voters. Malaysia’s only hope is that some young leaders will emerge, schooled in the real world of basic economics, armed with a higher sense of true nationalism, much better political leadership quality and management skills and appreciate the multi racial and religious harmony among ordinary Malaysians.

Hajiji has Statesmanship, Political Courage. 

Most of what is being played out at the national level is also true for Sabah with the distinctive exception that Sabahan leaders do not play the debilitating politics of race and religion. A big plus for Sabah is that Hajiji has professed he is CM for all Sabahans as he quietly goes about the very onerous task of turning around Sabah’s economy. 

Hopefully more Sabahan leaders, including opposition leaders, with good political leadership quality and management skills can, put aside political differences and step forward to assist Hajiji to rebuild Sabah’s economy for the benefit of Sabahans. 

The reconstruction/regain control of Sabah’s economy by Sabahans will be long and difficult, can only be accomplished by the united endeavour of all Sabahans in the context of Sabahans First Policy.

In these simple newspaper headlines that have gone viral on 9 September 2021 [a] “Sabah opposes Religion Bill: CM” (Daily Express) [b] “Citing respect, Sabah says opposing proposed Shariah Bill to control non-Muslim religions” [Yahoo News] and many others, Hajiji has distinguished himself in Sabah and Malaysia as the Sabahan political leader with exemplary statesmanship and political courage. He has laid out his position most succinctly on this issue. He values and wants to maintain Sabah’s racial and religious harmony. His message is clear, he does not welcome destructive West Malaysian bigots.

If my memory serves me right, no other CM has spoken out so emphatically to protect Sabah’s harmony. 

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2021/09/09/sabah-govt-rejects proposed-bill-to-restrict-propagation-of-non-muslim-religions


Our Front Page report on Sept. 10


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