Last night, I’d gone through a few red lights to reach home in time to catch the historical show on TV - the much-awaited live telecast of the debate between our de-facto opposition leader and our Information Minister.
I was never into politics. This was actually the first time I watched Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speak publicly. And I was impressed. I was also impressed by Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek’s performance, apart from moments when there was a brief pause, and a sentence being repeated while searching for the next point, and the slightly stale closing speech. I was never qualified to rate the debate, but I think it was good and interesting.
(Following are the comments and opinions of an apolitical frog under a well, read if you will, comment if you will, but try not to be disappointed for the lack of professionalism and in-depth analysis in the article, for this is something out from the mouth of a political idiot.)
As I watched the debate progress, and observing how Anwar spoke, I couldn’t help feeling that should our Prime Minister, Pak Lah, or his deputy who was on the opposite end of him (as wished by Anwar), they could have been pale in comparison (although I’ve never seen both of them speak in public either). As I observed Anwar displaying his prowess in public speech, I was beginning to tag him with “good orator”, “captivating”, “persuasive”, and even “manipulative”. Towards the end of the debate, I suddenly found myself comparing him with what I read about another charismatic leader – Adolf Hitler!
At the end of the debate, I had hundred questions circling in my mind: Is Anwar too smart for our good to be the leader of our nation, which is multi-racial, multi-religion in society, and multi-party in the political arena? And what is the quality of a good leader at this time in our nation? Then I was starting to compare him with Pak Lah.
I have the impression that technically, Anwar would top Pak Lah. However, in my opinion, you don’t need expert knowledge to be a good leader. There are teams of aides, consultants who can provide all the necessary facts, findings, studies, and what-if analysis to aid in the decision making process. What is required of the leader is to make a decision in choosing a course of action amongst many that are proposed.
And I think the personality of the leader has a significant influence on the decision being made. Would he take the moderate approach? Should he take the more extreme measure? Or maybe he should just let things be, and do nothing? This is the crucial moment when a leader has to show his/her mettle. This is the crucial moment when the personality of the leader will be tested.
Also, in a political scenario where one has to be a leader of a political party (be it based on political ideal, religion or race) before you can be a leader of the nation, it’s understandable if sometimes the party leader has to go a bit extreme in championing the course of the party, even if it go against the interests of other parties. But when one is a leader of a nation, interest of one’s party is but one out of many to be considered. At this stage, the interest of one party cannot be overriding the interests of others. The leader needs to moderate amongst multiple parties to get national policies approved and executed.
Personality, to me, right here, right now, is of utmost importance for our country. The course of a river can be changed, so can a mountain be made into a plain. Personality, though, is a different matter. It can be hidden, it can be suppressed, but it’ll show itself sooner or later.
At the end of his political career, Pak Lah may not be remembered as the leader who has made things happened, as much as a leader who has let things happen. Just like how he had let it be after the “tsunami” of 2008 Election; and just like how this debate was able to be held, and even telecasted live.
As easy as I would attach “moderate” to Pak Lah, I would attach “extreme” to Anwar.
So, who do I think is more eligible to be our leader at this time among the two? Well, I’m not telling if you haven’t already known.