Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mahathir vs Abdullah Badawi vs Najib

Mahathir, Abdullah and Najib are the former and the current prime ministers  of Malaysia. Mahathir held the premiership for more than 22 years, Badawi for less than 6 years and Najib the present PM has held the post (since 2009) for a number of years and has got the mandate in the recent 13th general election. Today, I would like to compare these leaders in terms of 8 attributes namely -1) Intelligence 2) Malayness 3) Honesty 4) Ability to inspire 5) Creativity 6) Confidence 7) Charisma and 8) Sense of humor. The maximum point for each criterion is 5 marks and the total weighting is 40 marks. The marks given are based on my perception of the leaders based on my reality and perception with no detailed info about them be it good or bad. The perception is based on a layman's  perception with no linked to any party or the person. 
The dictator-Mahathir

1. Intelligence. 
I believe all three leaders are intelligent and cunning. Otherwise, they would not have become the.prime minister of Malaysia. Mahathir graduated with a medical degree from Univ. Of Malaya in Singapore. Ahmad Badawi in Islamic Studies from UM and Najib in Economics from Nottingham University UK I think the less brilliant is Abdullah Badawi because he's not a medical graduate but only nurtured with Islamic background. It's not easy to get into medical school in Malaysia especially with its rigorous training. I would give Mahathir 4.75 for intelligence. Najib 3.5 and Abdullah Badawi 2.0/5. Najib too does not look intelligent. He's more of a crowd pleaser and a populist. He is not as witty or cunning  as Mahathir in putting forward his views and ideas. He depends on his international advisers too much unlike Mahathir. Pak Lah on the other hand  lacks the skill altogether. Pak Lah would just keep quiet without defending himself when barraged with negative comments made by Mahathir. Pity Pak Lah. He does not have the courage and intelligence to run a country but would have been a good choice as a chairman of a foundation.

2. Malayness

Mahathir is the Hang Jebat (a rebellious gladiator) of the modern version. He is a true Malay 'pahlawan' or warrior in any possible sense. He is the great defender of the Malay axis and I wont hesitate to place my bet on him to guarantee the continuation of Malay tradition and supremacy. I would give him 4.5 for Malayness although he's more of a mamak ( Indian Muslim lineage). He is in fact  more Malay than others self proclaim Muslim Malays. Najib is a total contrast to Mahathir, he's more British than Malay. I heard that he was taught Malay by a Bahasa Melayu teacher when he was young. He nevertheless tries to project his strong Malaysness to the public. I would question his credibility as a good Malay leader. A good indicator of Najib's  lack of strong Malaysness is to look at his brother's (Jack) attitude towards the concept of Malay supremacy, which is almost zero. I would give Najib 1.5/5 for this. I hope he would not be the prime minister of Malaysia for long. Abdullah Badawi would score much higher than Najib (2.5/5) under this ability although he  tried to project more Islamic credentials than one based on race .
 Najib with western ideas and concepts 

3. Honesty 

This is the attribute that none of them would be able to score more than 3.0/5. Of all the three leaders, the worst is Abdullah Badawi. He had projected the image of Mr. Clean but has none of that. His administration was beset with lots financial problems and 'irregularities'. His image as a good leader was ravaged by the opportunistic Mr. KJ who ' manhandled'  some of the loot but a filial son (I heard he's building an expensive house for his mom in Damansara area). His inefficiency in  administration is also aggravated by his sleeping disorder. Pak Lah deserves only 1.0/5. The second worst is Najib. His administration looks so artificial and book like administration with millions spent on image consultancy. However, his image is still practically not good. I believe the PR thing works more in the US than in Malaysia. Malaysians spread bad news faster than Al Jazeera or CNN. His mediocre and populist image is made worst by dominant Rosmah who seems to enjoy expensive taste and classy ambiance. Najib is a classic example of a crowd pleaser with no strong principles. Sorry Najib. I would give you 1.2/5. Mahathir who was called a despot and sometimes a dictator  by Chinese DAP members is the most honest compared to the other two. He never gave millions to his brothers and sisters. His family members in Sungai Petani and Alor Star are not rich and they lead a simple life. Despite some perceived honesty,  he would get only 3.0/5 for the honesty trait.

4. Ability to inspire

Najib tries very hard to be an inclusive leader that could inspire Malaysians with his 1 Malaysia concept. His concept of inclusiveness just does not achieve his target.  The millions spent for this image building fails miserably. He does not lead by example. He does not have that X factor to 'wow' the people. He instead uses image makers to transform him thru image making. He is a leader  without the substance and does not quite inspire the people. The ability to lead and to inspire comes from the person and not just from the image projected. He deserves only 2.0/5.  The worst here is Pak Lah. He is a total failure using this indicator. He had a good start but later it just fizzled out. No projects were proposed or built by him. His Islamic background was not used to good effect. His so called Mr Clean also did not inspire people to be motivated by him. He gets only 1.0/5. The champion here is none other then Dr. Mahathir. As the PM , he managed to persuade people to embrace his 2020 vision.  Malaysians were hooked by his charm and sincerity. He also has more brains to lead Malaysia compare to the other two. He was not only  the CEO of Malaysia but a true leader that could take the country to the next level. He is like Park Chung Hee of  Korea or Half of Mao Tze Tung. I would give his 5/5 for this attribute.

Napping Pak Lah , the goner

5. Creativity

I don't know whether this  is a good attribute to lead a nation. I think Najib is reasonably creative person in coming up with solutions to run the country. He has a number of programmes like ETP,GTP, Pemandu , and lots of other blueprints until Malaysians got confused. I think he deserved 2.5/5 for this ability. The best is still Mahathir. Mahathir is really creative in coming up with solutions (4.0/5). I think the better word is his unorthodox style. He managed to save the country from ruin  by using capital control. He even asked the people to withdraw  EPF money to get them to spend to support the country  when there was a deep recession. He promoted the buy British last doctrine.  He built the iconic Petronas towers. He brought in the most viewed TV show on earth, the F1 race. He got the private sector to develop the country. He maintained Malaysian growth rates until he was stopped by Abdullah Badawi. Pak Lah is the least creative or more of a dismantler. He dismantled the so called 'mega' things that were proposed by Mahathir. How could you stopped a youngster from eating a lot?. Malaysia was really galloping to the next level of development until it was slowed down by Mr. Clean. Creativity or the absence of it goes with Pak Lah. He gets only 0.5/5  for this attribute.

6. Confidence

They all have confidence . Mahathir is however the master here. Mahathir should get 4.5/5 in terms of this ability. His confidence level could been seen by the way he responded to naughty questions asked by foreign journalists. His confidence is also reflected by the numbers of years he ruled Malaysia. Najib too is quite confident . He probably got this trait because of his western upbringing unlike Mahathir and Abdullah. Najib  should get 3.5/5 for confidence level. Pak Lah on the other hand is not very confident or probably trying to be a polite politician. It did not work out. You cannot be a polite prime minister. You must be strong He just does nothave the courage to  argue back to support or defend his position. Pak Lah deserves only 3.5/5 for this ability.

7. Charisma

Charisma is one attribute that is so difficult to attain. Of the three, Mahathir has lots of it. He's a very charismatic leader not only in Malaysia but also in the Asean region and the Muslim world. Westerners of course do not like him that much. There are now some Malaysian Chinese DAP members trying to question his contribution in nation building. Mahathir is the one to follow here based on this attribute. I would give him 5/5 for the criterion. The other two do not even come close. Abdullah Badawi does not have it. He deserves only 0.5/5 for this trait. Najib probably gets 1/5. Clearly Mahathir is the winner here. There's something of an aura if you look at Mahathir. He still wields considerable influence in the running of the country . And the beautiful thing is that people still listen to his advice. Even Najib dares not challenge or even question Mahathir. He can even bring down Najib using is Che Det blog.l His advice might turn into an edict once he dislikes a person. Even at the age of almost 90 Islamic world still invites the old man to give advice. This clearly shows that Mahathir is a very charismatic person. Badawi on the other hand has turned oblivion. Najib gets his some charismatic rays courtesy of the power that he has. Once that is gone, the person also goes deep south.

8. Sense of Humour

None in this group posses the real sense of humour. Mahathir (3.5/5) despite his gentle personality hides a very heinous monster who would just destroy his nemesis. He is the 'mamak' type who will show no mercy. But you will be surprised by how good his 'sense of humuor' is in executing his enemies in oral discourses particularly at news briefings. Najib (2.0/5) too lacks this attribute but he tries hard to show that he is not a devil. Abdullah Badawi (1.0/5)  is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He will change clothes to suit his approach. You cant have this attribute in Malaysia. It just does not work here. It might work in the States but not in this country. What we need  is a strong leader who is benevolent. A too democratic leader is seen as ineffective and weak. A sleeper just needs to be kicked out. Mahathir has the slight advantage with regard to this trait.

Based on the criteria that I have listed above it is clear that Mahathir scores the most number of points. The distant second is Najib who is just slightly better that Abdullah. The third candidate is just a goner. He cant even be mentioned in any remembrance occasion. He just does not deserve to be mentioned. He led Malaysia to nowhere. Mahathir , however, has done his bit. He has transformed Malaysia into a regional powerhouse. Now Malaysia is left with Najib. But I believe his future is uncertain. His power is now overshadowed by his deputy. One reason is his inability to be a strong Malay leader. My prediction is that Najib will not last as long as Mahathir. I believe a  stronger leader will emerge not too far distant.

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