I am no expert in politics. But if there is one mandatory quality to be a leader of our country, I think it’s patriotism.
Reading the term literally, it means love your country. Understanding the term as a concept, it means putting your country first.
On its face, it seems to be a straightforward concept but it is not. It calls for an empathetic understanding of what makes your country your country – what makes Malaysia Malaysia, and a true devotion of ensuring Malaysia is what its people envision it to be.
Now what makes Malaysia Malaysia? Well, a lot, really. But I’ll just say 2 things – both of which are not open to dispute.
- It is a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious country.
- It is a constitutional democracy.
Multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious
As a leader of our country, you do not just act for your own race, own culture, own religion. You act for all races, all cultures, all religions. You are not a leader of a specific race, culture, religion. You are a leader for all.
As a leader for all, you do not incite hatred or disgust against any race, culture, religion that is not your own – you draw similarities and find common grounds. After all, we are more alike than different.
Patriotism requires that you put aside your personal views for specific race, culture, religion – and strive to make the country work for everyone no matter their race, culture, religion. You put your country first.
[NB: Racial politics simply do not, should not and cannot have a place in Malaysia today.]
Malaysia practises constitutional supremacy (the Constitution reigns supreme) – and not Parliamentary supremacy (the law is what our MPs say it is).
It recognises rule of law, separation of powers (check-and-balance) and independence of Judiciary.
These 3 basic structures of the Constitution boil down to 2 concepts – transparency and accountability. And these 2 concepts in turn boil down to 1 fundamental quality as a leader – conscience.
Patriotism requires that you do what is right, and not what is easy. What is right would be determined by your value system. And as a leader, your value system should be driven not by your personal agenda, but by conscience. Again, you put your country first.
[NB: Brownie points if you have some basics in public law – or if you’re a Hufflepuff.]
Do we have patriotic leaders leading our country at the moment? I doubt.
Do we have patriots who are ready, willing and able to lead our country? Plenty, many young faces in fact.
So, what do we do?