ALSO BY

By Tan Foong Luen

Wanted: New generation of leaders with new ideas

April 3, 2009. A Friday. A day appointed by destiny. Najib Abdul Razak was sworn in as the sixth prime minister of Malaysia. A new star rises. A new hope came into being.

Najib's new battle slogan ‘One Malaysia', ‘People First, Performance Now'- the thrust which hinges on bringing everyone together regardless of ethnic background, religion and generation as well as territory towards a vision for a new economy, politics and direction.

Has it been a success story?

To me, the nation needs a strong creative leadership. Malaysians need more from the PM than just cries of slogans, indignation and rebukes.

The time is too grave. The challenges too urgent. The stakes too high to permit the customary passions of political rhetoric and debate.

After March 8, 2008, the political landscape has changed. The old era ended. The old ways will not do.

It is time for us to gaze further into our future to set dreams and aspirations. The kind of people we will be, the heights to which our people will scale.

The present is definitely not good enough. We need an approach that can propel us forward, rooted in our tolerant and just societal ethos.

Najib may not have been completely successful. He is bogged -down by the constraints of the Umno divisional warlords, former premier Mahathir Mohamad and the Mahathir-sponsored Perkasa.

More than 55 years after Merdeka, Malaysia still wrestles with the problem of race and hate.

Our life is a constant vigilance against the danger of a common enemy of hate. It has been a test.

A test in which we have been reasonably successful so far. Malaysians have become brothers and sisters and our best virtues have flourished.

We must take cognisance, that the people of the 50s - with only a minimum of political awareness and education - were capable of fighting for independence.

To all our compatriots, especially the young, the next general elections will be decisive. It is a time where all Malaysians must take stock of the situation and stand up to what is right and oppose the wrong.

We are bound today by what bound us 55 years ago. We are bound together by reality.

Malaysians must remain united. Our society must remain equitable, infused with the spirit of togetherness and power-sharing.

We must build a nation that enriches every citizen regardless of race and belief.

We must all embrace a shared vision so it is right and just that everything in the country should be shared equitably.

Malaysia needs to get out of the stranglehold of arrogant and rent-seeking politicians. We must wake up to the fact that the non-Malays are here to stay.

The non-Malays are not birds of passage. Malaysia is their only home, where they were born, grew up, schooled, make a living, raised families, and will die.

Certainly they are not going to balik China, India or lain-lain tempat. They had fought alongside the Malays for independence, contributed to the economical development, help raised the Malaysian flag through sports and hoisted the Malaysian flag on Mount Everest, made a name in international fashion, movies, literature identifying themselves as Malaysians.

This is not a time for petty and destructive criticisms, not a time for ill-will or blaming others.

We have to build the modern equitable Malaysia where all our children will dwell.

It is time, in short, a new generation of political leaders must move us forward.

New men to cope with new problems and opportunities. A peaceful revolution of the political mindset demanding an end to racial discrimination.

All over the world, personalities like Obama in the USA, young men are coming to power.

Men who are not bound by the traditions of the past. Men who are not blinded by the old fears, hate and rivalries. Young men who can cast off the old slogans, delusions and suspicions.

The torch has to be passed to a new generation of political leaders . Good conscience is their only sure reward. History will be the final judge of their deeds.

Politics is unforgiving, and venturing into its murky waters is not easy for anyone. The leader must be able to shake the Malaysian mindset out of the present inward-looking cloistered euphoria.

Superficial changes are not sufficient; Substantive changes are required to pursue an inclusive multiracial future.

The rules have got to change. We need a radical alternative that puts people before anything else. We must start measuring success differently- against how much we can enhance human beings.

This is a moment to seize. The caring, educating and loving work that we all know needs doing. The success of this work is the real bottom line.

No matter what we're told or cajoled to do, we must work together to achieve the best. We must mould Malaysia into a kinder and more loving shape. Malaysians should rise according to merit not birth - that is the test of any decent society.

However, we must remain compassionate and committed in helping the poor and the weak. Our interests are inextricably woven together. It must be founded on equal worth of all. Power, wealth and opportunity must be in the hands of many, not a few.

Admittedly, values aren't enough. Our policies will only succeed when the realism is as clear as our idealism. We have to walk the talk.

Najib has to seize the remaining moments with his ‘One Malaysia' slogan. The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, he has to re-order the Malaysia around us.

As we go into the 13th general election - let us, all Malaysians, write this chapter in our nation's story together.