Awang Abdillah March 16, 2012
A leader must first understand the concept of national leadership and his responsibility to the people.
Every national leader be he in the government or the opposition has to deal with the different kinds of challenges to his leadership.
The nature of his challenges is consequent to whose rights he upholds or usurps and whose needs he serves and deprives accordingly.
A national leader who wants to live up to the standard mark must have the right understanding about the concept of national leadership.
National leadership is about one’s responsibility to the country and people, meaning he upholds the respective rights of the people and serves the needs of the nation.
The justification for serving the people and nation first, is because the rights and needs of those who form the majority should take precedence over the minority, and the rights of the minority will take precedence over those of individuals, in that order.
Secondly the requirements of the people and nation are enormous and manifold – land , education, employment, infrastructure, health care, housing ,share in economic and commercial opportunities, wealth and incomes, racial harmony and security.
This explains why the government has established many ministries, departments and agencies which are manned by civil servants and security personnel.
These groups execute the government’s responses to the needs and problems of the nation.
No place for personal pursuits
Hence these major national needs will become the main challenges to a responsible government.
The best approach for a capable and wise leader to take in tackling these challenges is to view each by way of a multi-dimensional analysis, thereby enabling him to choose the best alternative solution to each particular problem in terms of costs,time, priority, and success.
Thus the concept of good governance is best interpreted as the responsibility of government leaders to recognise and give priority to the national interests.
Wise leaders should also seek the best solution to the national issues through the multi-dimensional approach geared towards nation-building.
In contrast individual politicians are specific and confined to personal needs only.
Anything more than this is considered as an abuse of one’s position and abuses of position is an abuse of power.
If those in the corridors of power believe that the rights and needs of himself, his family and cronies take precedence over that of the people then they have violated the rights of the office, deprived the needs of the majority, broken the rule of law and thereby have strayed from the rules of good governance.
Such acts can be construed as crimes against the people and country, not to mention the breaching of religious teachings, universal values and the democratic principles, and dishonoring human dignity.
Therefore individual politicians who are busy serving their own interests have no place in a country where the people want a responsible government to manage its’ wealth and resources towards nation-building.
For political leaders who give priority to self-interests above national interests, such acts will give rise to conflicts of interests between the people/majority rights versus the individual rights of politicians.
Such conflicts of interests will then turn into major national issues that leave them with two options – to deal with or to ignore.
If a leader is prepared to tackle these crucial issues, then he has to follow the standard procedures of good governance and rule of law.
The first option gives him the second chance to be back on track as a responsible leader for his country.
However history has taught us that most power abusers the likes of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad,Taib Mahmud and Najib Tun Razak have chosen the second option which is to ignore the critical issues.
When this happens, the issues that are created by their own wrongdoings will not go away but will hit hard on the economic well-being and welfare of the people, independence of the legislature , the judiciary and the media, free elections, nation’s revenue and expenditure.
Once these detrimental effects continue to hit the nation hard, those deprived and oppressed will look for the perpetrators.
This is how the rise of the opposition against a government comes about.
The rise of the opposition in turn presents a direct challenge to these politicians’ own survival and government.
Consequently they have no choice but to tackle them not according to the standard procedures of good governance and the rule of law but in whatever ways necessary to save their own positions and maintain their power grip.
With such kind of tense confrontation, all forms of counter challenges from the people and the opposition such as the voters, opposition parties, the media , intellectuals and others will be suppressed.
How they try to save themselves depends on each individual power abuser.
Mahathir, Taib and Najib, each have their own ways and means to continue to hold on to power and deceive the people.
They have used a range of strategies involving undemocratic policy and malpractices, deception tactics, unethical methods, psy-war such as the on-going distribution of all kinds of goodies, illegal and unlawful acts and declare a state of emergency.
The more their power is under threat, the greater will be their acts of suppression. Such acts are their last line of defence.
Awang Abdillah is a political analyst, writer and FMT columnist.