The entire nation is watching as Datuk Seri Najib Razak prepares to be sworn in as its sixth prime minister tomorrow. It is a moment of hope for all that Malaysia can be, and one of fear that the challenges that have piled up for this promising country may be too daunting for its new leader.
There was a mood of great expectation when the outgoing prime minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took office in November 2003, a feeling of euphoria at the promise of a new openness and the chance of purging the administration of corruption. Six years later, a sober realisation has dawned that much remains to be rectified in our fractured nation.
Now, it is Najib’s turn to show the way to reach the Malaysian Dream, an idyllic nation of many parts held together by the dynamism of its people, their spirit of accommodation and a can-do attitude that makes the most difficult of goals seem well within reach. There was a time when we seemed to be firmly on track towards that destination.
For Najib to ignite the popular imagination again, he will need to put together a cabinet that will change the course of government as we know it. The Najib administration must start its work believing that they can transform the pessimism that has gripped the nation into a feeling of renewal and energy. To do that, the people must be able to believe that they are the masters of their own destiny.
Najib now has the opportunity to start on a fresh new slate, handpicking a team that has the talent, vision and drive to put the train of nation-building back on track. It will require courage to break with the past and establish a new ethical and cooperative order. No doubt those with entrenched interests will try to derail the effort, so Najib will have to demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities to pull off the feat.
The examples of nations that have taken the high road to preeminence stand before us. These countries have inspired people to scale the heights of human achievement by espousing enduring values like freedom, equality, universality, truth and fair play. Does Malaysia has what it takes to join their ranks?
In the spirit of the Malaysian Dream, the answer may lie in another question: Why not? The question is a short one, but Najib’s answer will determine his place in the history books.
This article appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, April 2, 2009.
Source : The Edge