Home News Featured News Is Malaysia’s leadership on trial?

Is Malaysia’s leadership on trial?

COVID 19 and politics - double the trouble in Malaysia. Can Malaysia recover from the current economic crises?

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Malaysia’s economy fell at a faster than expected clip in the fourth quarter, as stricter coronavirus curbs crimped consumption and slowed the pace of recovery, according to a Reuters report.

Gross domestic product contracted 3.4% year-on-year in the October-December period, the central bank said on Thursday, falling for a third straight quarter and faster than the 3.1% decline forecast in a Reuters poll.

Malaysia’s full-year economic performance fell 5.6% in 2020, the worst annual performance since the 7.4% decline in 1998 during the Asian Financial Crisis, according to data from the department of statistics.

Bank Negara Malaysia governor Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said during a virtual news conference last week, “Going into 2021, growth will rebound, supported by a pickup in global demand and normalisation in domestic economic activities.”

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Who is to be blamed for the downside of the economy?

Answer: Covid 19 pandemic, MCO and lockdown, poor economic performance and leadership.

Yes. All of the above and most certainly, a bickering, in-fighting and warring leadership, both sides of the aisle, ruling and opposition.

Sadly, Malaysia lacks leaders who serve the people. So, with the MCO are we have a leadership crisis in Malaysia now? No. Bipartisan Government or leadership is in sight.

Whatever, the name or format a bipartisan was promised. On 7th November last year, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin called for bipartisan cooperation to refine the country’s budget for next year, saying that he welcomed views that could benefit the public.

In an interview with television news channel Astro Awani, Tan Sri Muhyiddin said inclusiveness is needed as Budget 2021. “isn’t for the government but for the Rakyat (people). Practising inclusiveness is good, no matter with whom. We’re ready to receive any feedback and suggestion; we will observe and refine it,” he said.

He was then mulling over the possibility of expanding bipartisan cooperation beyond Budget 2021, by inviting the opposition to sit in on some government meetings, according to a news report. Last week, opposition leader and MP Lim Kit Siang reminded the Prime Minister on urgency of a bipartisan Government.

A bipartisan will be the best public relations move to pacify Malaysians during current emergency and MCO. Whatever the case, the leadership better get it right because the population is upset with the restricted movement during this Chinese New Year.

About a month ago (14th January 2021), Prime Minister Muhyiddin administration formally requested three names from the Opposition to join a bipartisan committee that is supposed to decide when the Emergency should end, Malaysiakini reported.

The news portal reported Pakatan Harapan (PH) chief secretary Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail confirming receipt of the letter from de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan to Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The right choice of leaders is crucial. A leader takes people where they want to go. Politicians, especially those who continue politicking stop serving the people and cease to exist. Malaysia’s hope in GE15 is a brand of political leaders who will reach out to the people for five years after the general election.

GE15 is real and maybe soon. Possibly after the emergency is lifted on August 1 this year. Unfortunately, the quality of leadership in bringing the races together has not improved. Open the newspapers and view the news portals and it is full of political bickering, in-fighting and jealousy of everyone politician and party wanting to oust the other.

Does one wonder if the leaders are really working? If the politicians are not educated and trained in leadership and crisis management skills, Malaysians will suffer from their inadequacies. The pandemic crisis is real and there are flip flops at daily media briefings on Covid 19.

A leader takes people where they want to go. Politicians, especially those who continue politicking and stop serving the people cease to exist. Malaysia’s hope in GE15 is a brand of political leaders who will reach out to the people for five years after the general election. Any race-based, selfish leader or politician will be found out sooner or later and be abandoned by their followers and voters.

Perhaps, GE15 will be on the cards after the emergency is lifted on August 1 this year. WhatsApp videos are circulating on Pakatan Nasional posters being printed and footages of containers bringing them into Malaysia at a port as narrated by a political commentator.

The unpreparedness for the crisis was also obvious on May 9th 2018 after PH won GE14. Several crisis management trainers offered training in leadership programmes to PH Ministers and MPs. Directly the senior trainers made personal calls on Pakatan Harapan (PH) Cabinet and leaders offering to train them in crisis communications and management. The reply was: “Don’t waste time with us politicians. We don’t need training because we know what is happening and we can manage any crisis.”

No leader in PH saw the elephant in the room was the biggest problem. How could they have survived the crisis on 24th February 2020 when Dr Mahathir Mohamad resigned? A crisis communications/management trainer for over 20 years remarked that PH was not in crisis ready mode. To overcome crisis a top inner circle of PH leaders (not in Cabinet) and senior Cabinet Ministers could have prevented a crisis. The amicable solution was if the top PH leadership met again with Dr Mahathir in post Cabinet meetings to settle any differences.

The festering wound was at Cabinet meetings when Dr Mahathir’s proposals and ideas were rejected. For example, like going for open tenders and not negotiations. There are many more and several crisis incidents are quoted in former Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas book: My Story: Justice in the Wilderness. Every incident, Thomas mentions is a crisis related. Most certainly, there are many other reasons for the failure of the PH government’s leadership.

Similarly, there were other reasons for Dr Mahathir’s abrupt resignation. The primary one being several PH leaders were in a hurry, wanting his position of the prime minister. Reprimanding Dr Mahathir in high-level meetings by other PH Ministers and leaders triggered and acted as a catalyst to forcibly make Dr Mahathir step down on 24th February 2020.

Optimistically, cautiously and patiently PH’s inner circle leaders could have managed its 94-year leader who faced opposition within his own Cabinet. Unlike, in his earlier premiership of 22 years UMNO accepted DrMahathir’s ideas and those who could not agree stepped out or resigned like a few Deputy Prime Ministers and Ministers.

There were many PH Think Tanks from all its component parties, but not in the area or being prepared for a crisis. When will leaders go back to the classroom and equip themselves with intellectual knowledge, leadership strategies and management skills? Crisis Management? The day crisis management is taken for granted; leadership will fail.

Currently, it is clear Malaysian politicians do not seem to have a clear sense of purpose, vision or mission to serve the people. At the same time, they are not adjusting to the changing environment at the pace of technology. Undoubtedly, we live in uncertain emergency and MCO times that calls for a new kind of leadership who can put people first. Whatever happens, leaders be crisis ready and prepared.

That is why leadership is more important now than ever before. They are not keeping up rapid changes on how to face a crisis, innovation, sociological and cultural change. The new breed of leader must be agile, humble and be able to cope with the mindsets of the new change agenda in 2021.

Their lack of readiness to serve is a liability to the nation and the new world order. For this reason, Malaysia needs a leadership associated with conviction, conscience, integrity and trust to take us and the next generation to brighter and better tomorrow.

The lack of knowledge, preparedness and willingness to change will sway them to the old ways of corruption and racism in their leadership. This was evident in six decades of one-party rule. Especially, those Prime Ministers and Ministers who have resorted to pushing the racial agenda to stay in power.

In the coming GE15 the party that will succeed is the one with a multiracial agenda to serve all communities. Raced based agenda is not acceptable to Malaysians and the world will frown at us.

Any Malaysian selfish leader or politician will be found out sooner or later and be abandoned by their followers and voters.  This is likely to happen in the next GE15 if the Malaysian voting population put on their thinking caps to vote for only those who have served the community since elected. Leadership is about engaging, inspiring and stimulating people and enabling them to achieve the vision and goals of national economic growth.

Returning to the community with cash is king and other incentives will not help from the bad experience when money was thrown to lure voters in GE 14. Money corruptly disbursed to voters saw a backlash as the 61-year Barisan Nasional (BN) ruling the government collapsed for sins of corruption coupled with the 1MDB scandal that robbed the nation of its taxpayers’ money.

BN was built on component race-based political parties and failed to unite the people for a common cause of moderation. Instead, the resurgence of radical Islam put the wedge the divide and rule policy through polarisation.

Roman politician, statesman and philosopher Marcus Cicero wrote in the year 43 BC: “1. The poor – work and work. 2. The rich – exploit the poor. 3. The soldier – protects both. 4. The taxpayer – pays for all three. 5. The banker – robs all four. 6. The lawyer – misleads all five. 7. The doctor – bills all six. 8. The goons – scare all seven. 9. The Politician – lives happily on account of all eight.”

As our population begins to realise that their elected leaders are not serving them, it’s time to vote them out. Leadership should rise above these narrow, parochial interests of race and religion. Instead, be more moving, caring and sharing the nation’s wealth with the people. People want economic development, more public amenities and an increase in the per capita income.

If leaders are unable to lead, then the people must lead, as they do in any class, race and religious struggles. It’s time for politicians to end harping on race and religious issues to gain votes. They must be made to realise that while the rhetoric of race-used by leaders may appeal to some, but the majority will reject it.

After being an experienced full-time journalist for the past 35 years, M.Krishnamoothy,72, was a freelance journalist, coordinator/fixer for CNN, BBC, German, Australian TV networks, TIME magazine, New York Times and newspapers in Malaysia. In the past four years, he taught Journalism at two international universities as an Associate Professor.  In 2019, his sixth book, May 9PEOPLE POWER SAVES MALAYSIA was voted as Malaysia’s top Reader’s Choice. His 5th book was another bestseller titled: MH 370: Flying Through Crisis.

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