This month saw the passing of Malcolm Fraser of Australia and Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. Both men were giants in their time.
Events such as these must, of necessity, compel thinking Malaysians to reflect on the changing fortunes of countries like Australia and Singapore and compare them with our own changing fortunes in Malaysia.
Just as the great historians, Will and Ariel Durant liked to ask, we have to also ask the same question of ourselves, HOW HAVE WE PROGRESSED...AS A NATION?
What made Lee Kuan Yew tower above his contemporaries in the realm of political leadership was his ability to gather around him a cohort of like-minded colleagues to plan, strategise, visualise and exhort their countrymen to pull together and share a common vision and work towards a common destiny.
Of course, there was dissent. Such are the vagaries of human communities anywhere. That made the sheer willpower and charisma of Lee Kuan Yew and his cohort all the more impressive.
Actually, whenever I consider Lee Kuan Yew's political life, I am often drawn to that one pivotal moment in the PAP party assembly in the 1950s when Lee was pitted for PAP's leadership against the charismatic, Hokkien speaking orator, Ong Eng Guan. It was Toh Chin Chye who, as the Chairman, gave his casting vote in favour Lee that decided the course of contemporary Singapore history under Lee Kuan Yew's iron-willed leadership and relentless vision of material progress.
Did Toh Chin Chye ever rue his casting vote?
But, as usual, I digress...
One of the common refrain of Lee Kuan Yew's during the torrid decades of the 1950s and 1960s, when Lee and his cohort had to fight the threat of Communists, racial unrest and political rivals was the need for law and order. Yes, it was to quell and hammer down dissent. He was consistent in declaring without apology, that law and order was needed in order for Singapore to develop and progress.
This hearkens to the time when we had a strong and charismatic leader in Dr M. Love him or hate him, Dr M gave us a direction in which we could chart our course as Malaysians. We could go with the flow or, we could go against it. Either way, there was direction.
In recent years what we have experienced as Malaysians is an exhausting drama that has no script.
Everyone is an anti-hero.
There is no sense of direction. No leadership.
There are plenty of swirls and eddies that makes us nauseated.
When we try to sit down and focus on our work, we are distracted by rubbish political nonsense that does nothing to help with our work.
There is plenty of religious strife, racial polemics and corrupt practises.
But. Where is the common destiny for all Malaysians?