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Sakmongkol ak 47

Friday, 29 August 2008

Looking for Leadership

Written in response to an invitation from a blogger friend, to hear my two cents worth of opinion. Here goes my initial thoughts.
A barrack room lawyer( no offence to lawyer bloggers), is someone who likes to be a busy body giving unsolicited opinions on something even though he is not qualified to. At the risk of being billed one, I would like to say a few things about the state of leadership in UMNO.
What were the hallmarks of Tun Mahathir’s leadership? Last year, or the year before, perhaps before the Tun went for surgery, he officiated the opening of a high end bakery in Langkawi. My first reaction- this grand old man has flipped!
The name of the bakery is The Loaf. There is one at the Kuala Lumpur Pavilion shopping mall too.
No, I am not about to talk of the delicious pastries and what not. But one remark by the Tun remained etched indelibly on my er….fading memory. When asked why he was taking a risk to open up a high end bakery in Langkawi, the Tun gave a short answer, which to me sums up the whole essence of leadership.
The Tun said, you must create the product first, then people will educate themselves about it and then a market for it develops. Or something like that.
1. Create product
2. Educate the people
3. Market develops.
Hence a fundamental lesson about leadership comes from opening up a humble bakery. Of course THE LOAF is no humble bakery. The products are delicious, pricey but you can hardly get a table to sit.
The main ingredient of leadership which can be extracted here, is to act decisively. The leader must exhibit a strong conviction that something is doable. With Tun Mahathir, it always just do it. Maybe Nike should have Tun M as their spokesman. Its something like the economics principle of supply creates its own demand.
I did not have the chance to observe first hand the Tun’s art of leadership when he was the PM, but here now is a living example of how he starts something.
What is the most important product or in this case service that you have to offer us the rakyat?
You must offer us leadership. And leadership begins with what a leader must be, the values and attributes that shapes the elusive factor called character- the one thing Lee Kuan Yew looks for, when searching for the next generation leader. OK, Pak Lah may be deficient in this department; but values and character shaping attributes are in you and with Others.
So, if these are deficient in Pak Lah, what about in Others? Where have they all gone to? So the supreme council members whose stench rise to high heavens, spare us the agony, leave before you cause further haemorrhaging to UMNO.
Pak lah and his band of roving ministers and MKT members, many of them on a heavily subsidised ego trip of their own, must show the rakyat a determined, capable and disciplined leadership.
Where must Pak Lah begin or in his case, re-begin? He must start with good men at the helm. UMNO needs good men at the supreme council level, good men to lead divisions, good men at divisional committee level and good men also at branch levels.
How do you ensure that good men come to the fore? Will they come willy nilly, hither and thither, just by chance, good providence and coincidence?
If one relies on per chance and good providence, that shows a fundamental flaw in leadership. If anything, Tun Mahathir showed as the first principle in leadership, is to be pro-active. Its absence, indicates that you don’t have that determination, forcefulness. A leader who allows circumstances to overcome him instead of being a the helm, is weak.
I am very very sorry to say this about Pak Lah. Weak(ness) becomes a liability when it predicates leadership. It will then mean that the crucial elements of leadership will be absent. And these are influencing people, by providing purpose, direction and motivation.
A system-less way of creating leadership happens only after most countries got their independence. Idealistic leaders come forward to lead their people. Most of them, afterwards got neutered by the baneful influences of power.
But you can no longer simulate conditions before independence. At that time, intense desire for self determination, struggles to get free from the yoke of colonialism and oppression, provided the recipe for nationalist leaders to come forward. Leaving everything to good providence then, leaders did indeed come forward willly nilly, hither thither.
If you were to replicate the same conditions as before independence NOW, what do you get? You get what Tun Mahathir says, half past six leadership material.
Thus most of the present crop of UMNO leaders now, are more suitable if they had been born a few years after independence. Then, people’s expectations were more simpler. Leaders or wakil rakyats can and did lead, even if equipped with passable leadership qualities.
But can the ideas which are so yesterday, be used today?
So how did the present state of affairs come into existence? Where you find wanton abandonment and just letting go, hoping that, by and by, good leaders will eventually emerge? It comes from weak leadership that submits and is overwhelmed by circumstances.
That kind of system-less way of providing leadership has resulted in our present state of sorry affairs- we get the less bright, the les capable, the less honest, the more corrupt and the self serving coming to the fore.


Anonymous,  29 August 2008 at 11:53  

Thank you for the valuable insights. Might use your ideas to fuel some of my future articles :)


Ismail N 29 August 2008 at 20:04  

I'm totally agree. But how do we reform the system that being control by the less bright, the les capable, the less honest...leaders to create new bunch of quality leaders to lead the nation in the future? Or is it rather too late now? Bear in mind that even great leader like Dr M hasn't managed to find a worthy successor.

sakmongkol AK47 aka Mat Tomoi 29 August 2008 at 20:51  

i am writing a second part on this subject. hope it will throw further light. thank you.
thank you to JMD for stirring up interest to write on this subject

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