Monday, September 08, 2008

A question of Leadership

The hangover following the March 8 polls is not leaving any of us in a hurry.

The Pakatan Rakyat grabbed five states and denied Barisan Nasional its taken-for-granted two-thirds parliamentary majority by eight seats. Nine today if you consider poor Joseph Kurup's defeat in election court after winning unopposed on Nomination Day.

The score is 139-81, one Independent, one in abeyance.

But more than that, we will finally observe and not ignore Malaysia Day this year. Not because Malaysia was formed 45 years ago but due to Anwar Ibrahim's promise to take power with the help of at least 30 MPs from the BN. 

We wonder if any of the 49 bound for Taiwan are among the 30 or 40 he thinks has joined the exodus from the winning team of March 8, BN, to the losing team PR.

The tipping point could be the question of leadership especially in the face of one Ahmad Ismail's rant in the heat of campaigning during the Permatang Pauh by-election. Do we allow one man to tell us the history of Malaysia?

Of course, we should all be upset. As he is now that his Umno party seems to be losing control of Malaysia to "squatters" as he calls them. Then again, he should know that Malaysia or Malaya would not exist without the alliance of the three major races in Malaya and later Malaysia with the consent of the people of Sabah and Sarawak.

Do the leaders of Umno know this? Do Umno members think governing Malaysia is their birth right that even some, if not all, of the state constitutions say only Malay Muslims can be chief ministers and such?

All this boils down to a question of leadership in Umno, and by extension BN, or for that matter the allies within PR. How far will they go to allow extreme voices speak in the wilderness or bring them in line with mainstream political thinking of compromise and cooperation?

Is anyone less racist for helping others in election campaigns? Is anyone more racist for harping on squatters and their lesser right to run the nation? Are we a nation of racists who cannot tolerate racists?

The Siber Party of Malaysia (M) believes in Malaysia and that it has no place for racists. Ahmad Ismail and his ilk have their right to free speech but also face the right to hear what others say about them. It is easy to blame the media but they should know that what they say have repercussions.

Going racial, insular and parochial in a time of change is as Samuel Johnson said, "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel". Ahmad Ismail, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Anwar Ibrahim and Najib Abdul Razak best remember that.

We are looking for heroes at a time of change when uncertainty rules. Not zeroes.

No comments: