ALSO BY

By Kuo Yong Kooi

M'sia's choice - to go the way of Mandela or Mugabe

Nelson Mandela is one of the global iconic figures of our time. Now that Mandela is struggling for his life, it is an opportune time to have some introspection on the man and his achievements.

The attitude, approach and world view of a leader can produce a different outcome on the fate of a nation.

Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe both taught us this lesson of their starkly different world views and approaches to the same problem.

In the struggle for power, Mandela took on a non-violent path and Mugabe preferred the opposite.

When both took over power, Mandela's approach was inclusive and reconciliatory by forgiving the others through a "truth and reconciliation commission". South Africa was able to move on in a positive light.

Mugabe acted on a divisive theme to carry the country forward during the post-colonial period. The state of Zimbabwe today is the testimony of Mugabe's attitude and approach to overcome a problem.

The Sri Lankan conflict started in 1983 when the Tamil Tigers demanded a separate state in the Jafna peninsula. The damage bill after 26 years of civil war was incalculable.

Sri Lanka gained independence on Feb 4, 1948, much earlier than Malaysia. Sri Lanka today is still struggling to recover from the civil war. Most parts of the country are still in a state of Third World squalor.

The conflict showed us that both the opposition and government need to navigate through the common problems carefully or else it will have a detrimental effect on the nation.

Throughout the 26-year civil war in Sri Lanka, there were numerous reconciliation/ceasefire efforts put forth but which failed. National reconciliation when in a conflict situation, needs the full and sincere cooperation from both sides.

To extrapolate these history lessons to our current situation in Malaysia may be wise as the damage has not yet been done in terms of physical conflict.

Now that the GE13 dust has settled, the results clearly indicate that some changes in attitude and approach is required by all stakeholders who chart the future path of our nation.

Any misnavigation in terms of wrong application of tactics can be explosive and detrimental to our nation.

On the side of the present Najib Abdul Razak administration, it is clear that he is continuing the previous Umno lead administration's policy of taking on the divisive path to carry our nation forward.

Nothing much has changed, even the previous speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia was re-elected as the speaker for the current Parliament.

There will be little or no reconciliation on the floors of our parliament when the speaker of Parliament has clearly displayed his biases.

Fruitful debates needed to amend laws that affect the future of the country are put on a backburner.

Most debates will be on a partisan level with highly charged emotions. The situation in the Parliament can and will stifle the country from moving positively forward.

If the GE13 is to be of any guide, something has to change from the Najib administration's side to accommodate the 51 percent popular vote that went to the opposition.

If he thinks that he has the upper hand because BN has won 133 seats in Parliament, he should learn from contemporary global political history lessons.

The January 2011 Tahrir Square revolution started with a united voice of grievances of Egyptian protesters on a broad brush of issues from legal and political issues like lack of free elections, freedom of speech, corruption, police brutality (sounds familiar?) and including economic issues like high unemployment, low wages and inflation.

The Tunisian revolution started in December 2010 on similar issues.

Closer to home the people power revolution of the Philippines in 1986 ousted the Ferdinand Marcos regime and the street protests in 1998 ended Suharto's 31-year dictatorial rule.

Time and time again history had showed us that we can't get away with the wrongs that we have done for a long period of time.

If no basic changes happen at the government administrative levels like installing an independent attorney general, inspector general of police, head of the Election Commission and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, then the pressure will naturally mount further through the streets.

This is the nature of the forces of the universe. The collective frustrations and anger of the rakyat which is a form of energy, cannot be contained by the same type of lies or with brute force, it will only lead to more opposite forces to counter it.

The same as before position displayed by Najib at the moment is untenable as the GE13 election results indicated that things can only get worse for Umno in that position.

Umno's mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia and Perkasa are doing the hard yards on national reconciliation for the opposition. The same as before position had already united the unlikeliest of allies like PAS and DAP.

The other 48 percent of the electorate will most likely vote for the opposition in the next general election and the national reconciliation project can be declared a success, thanks to the Najib administration's position of carry on as usual.

If Najib is to survive a challenge from Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, it is better for him to change his position and adopt Mandela's model of national reconciliation.

His current position is unstable as there are mounting pressures from the right wing factions of Umno to push for a more conservative former premier Mahathir Mohamad-type agendas. He cannot possibly out-conservative Muhyiddin.

If Najib adopts Mandela's national reconciliation model, he might be able to increase his popularity to rock star status.

Judging from his previous actions he had displayed his desire to be a rock star (remember Psy?) or a movie star (remember Michelle Yeoh?).

Mandela is a well-established global "political" rock star so to speak. Mandela and FW de Klerk from South Africa jointly won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

The unfortunate part of our present predicament is that the fate of our nation depends on the position and world view of Umno's top leadership.

Our nation had embarked on a divisive path for more than three decades and has lead us to the current predicament.

The national reconciliation project has to come from the one in power to avoid further unwarranted conflicts in the future.

It is a shame that the Najib administration is not willing to take on Mandela's path of national reconciliation to change his fortune.

Going towards the South African direction is probably the only road left for him. If he wants to go towards the Zimbabwean direction, Muhyiddin is already ahead of him, furthermore that is a dead end.

Fiji adopted the "Malaysian divisive model", they've went through four coups in the last two decades and they are still not out of the water yet.

The East Timorese gained independence in 2002. They quickly adopted the South African model of "truth and reconciliation" to bring the country forward.

East Timor is sailing on fine today without much trouble. Jose Ramos Horta won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996.

Mandela did the hard yards to prove to the world that a path and vision of a peaceful coexistence amongst people of all colours can be realised.

This is the only way to move forward peacefully and positively for any nation of multi-ethnic composition.