Saturday, January 4, 2014

'Be a statesman, not a hypocrite politician...'

************************ In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. ************************ Reflection ************************* The Declining Day (Al-'Asr) 1. By the declining day, 2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss, 3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance. ******************************** * A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman of the next generation. A politician looks for the success of his party; a statesman for that of his country. The statesman wishes to steer, while the politician is satisfied to drift. -- James Freeman Clarke ******************************* * A statesman is he who thinks in the future generations, and a politician is he who thinks in the upcoming elections. - Abraham Lincoln ***************************** “AT one corner of the stadium was I, ‘a humble reporter’ from Malaysia, covering the touching event, several thousand kilometers away from home. ******************************** “I looked at the ‘Mat Saleh’ journalists. They were tall, big and bold and of course had the advantage compared to the Asian pressmen. When the press mobbed the leaders for the latest news, the Asian press were left behind or pushed aside. ***************************** “But what impressed me while I was in the stadium, the blacks ‘were roaring back to life’ after more than four decades under the apartheid regimes. The Afrikaans, Zulus, Indians and non white minorities were on the way to a new era – and it was made possible by the struggle of ‘that humble leader’ – NELSON MANDELA." ***************************** This report was filed by me, a young reporter, some 20 years ago from the FNB stadium (known as Soccer City for the duration of the 2010 FIFA World Cup) in Soweto, a very vast black township outside Johannesburg on the eve of South Africa’s historic first multi-racial election after the collapsed of the white aparthied regime with it’s last white president FW de Klerk. ************************** The April 1994 election was history – Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) secured more that 62 percent of the votes, paving way for him to be the first non-whites to be South Africa’s president; and for me, the event there was always on my mind because it was the second time I covered a major world event; the first was filing reports from the ex-Communist republics after the collapsed of the Soviet Empire in 1991. *************************** When apartheid collapsed and a multi racial elections held, paving way for Mandela to be sworn as South Africa first non-white president, I was one 'lucky guy' of 32 years of age who witnessed the event; and now at 52, while I was in India (a very good and close country for Mandela), I heard and read news about the demise of the statesman on Friday, 6th December 2013. ***************************** If in 1994, Mandela was given a standing ovation by some 80,000 supporters in the FNB Stadium which I witnessed the event; after his death about 20 years later, his body was taken to the same historic stadium to enable 'ordinary' South Africans especially the blacks to pay their final respect to him. ************************* While reading a few Indian English dailes, I realized that the Indians have high respect for Mandela; for example the 'Deccan Herald' reserved many pages on the news about Mandela with a headline 'Peace hero Mandela passes away' and and an biography entitled 'Nelson Mandela, the Gandhi of South Africa'. ************************** Why Mandela was likened to Mahatma Gandhi, India's Father of Nation? He was said to have a very strong Indian connections and had striking similarities with Gandhi. *************************** Thus, when Mandela died, India declared a 5-day mourning with its President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lead the nation to mourn the death of the much respected world leader who was conferred the 'Bharat Ratna' award, India's highest civilian honour in 1993. Mandela was the first non-Indian recipient of Bharat Ratna and he received it ahead of the Nobel Prize for Peace he was bestowed in 1993; sharing it with FW de Klerk. *************************** Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon shared a special bond for India and this was there for the world to see when he chose the land of Gandhi, who he called his 'political guru' and a 'role model', as his first destination abroad in 1990 after spending 27 years behind bars. ********************** The Deccan reported that as an avowed Gandhian, Madiba, as was affectionately known around the world, always praised Gandhi for his principles of 'Satya and Ahimsa' and followed his philosophy. ************************ "The Mahatma is an integral part of our history because it his here he first experimental with truth, here that he demonstrated his characteristic firmness in pusuit of justice; here that he developed Satyagraha as a philosophy and a method of struggle," Mandela said at an unveiling of Gandhi Memorail in South Africa in 1993. **************************** "Gandhi is most revered for his commitment to non-violence and the Congress Movement was strongly influenced by this Gandhian philosophy, is was a philosophy that achieved the mobilisation of millions of South Africans during the 1952 defiance campaign, which established the ANC as a mass organisation," Mandela has said in his address. *************************** During his five years tenure as South Africa's president (1994-1999), Mandela was 'not without mistake' (he himself said that 'I am a man with many weaknesses'), but one event that made the world realized that 'this man was not crazy for power' was that he declined to run for second term in the 1999 general elections but pave the way for his deputy, Thabo Mbeki to be president. **************************** Mandela was not like the many so-called liberation and freedom fighters or leaders, dictators, president and prime ministers of the world who would cling to power at any costs; the latest was shown by the regime of Sheikh Hasina Wajid of Bangladesh who sent Sheikh Abdul Quader Molla, the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, to the gallows on 12th December. ************************** Instead, after leaving the presidency, Mandela brought that moral stature to bear elsewhere around the continent, as a peace broker and champion of greater outside investment. And when he died, I was 52; a 'not so young adult' compared to 'the robust me' of 32 when I covered South Africa's first multi-racial elections in 1994. So what have I learned from this statesman? ********************** Regarding this, I love to quote an article by Elisa Dass Avin in (14 Dec 2013) with the title 'Mentoring the Mandela way' which states three approaches of the icon's leadership ways that are; first, lead from the front and back; second, have a core principle and third, quitting is leading too. ************************** Elisa quoted from a book written by Richard Stengel, 'Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life and Love and Courage' which regarding leadership noted: 'Mandela once shared this story with Stengel': "When you want cattle to move in certain direction, you stand at the back with a stick and then you get a few of the cleverer cattle to go to the front and move in the direction that you want them to go. The rest of the cattle follow the cleverer cattle in the front, but you are really guiding them from the back." ************************ But among almost all societies including in our country, leaders want to be in front 'dulu, kini dan selamanya' (during the past, now and forever). They want to be 'the cleverer cow' for all times and to fulfil this wish, they would do all sorts of approaches including raising prices of necessity items that are of concern to the rakyat such as petrol, sugar, electricity tariff and toll rates. *********************** Some went against their own election manifestos such as not to raise toll rates and some even make mockery of themselves by not resigning from their top positions as they had promised before elections for example saying: "In two years time I would resign," but till today he is still at helm. ********************** Perhaps they did this to finance their crooked ways so that they would be in power 'dulu, kini dan selamanya'. In times of elections, they selved temporary their desires; they claimed they 'mendahulukan rakyat' (very concern about the welfare of the people) but their actions speak volumes about themselves. ************************* These types of leaders are merely hypocrite (munafik) and corrupted politicians; perhaps they fit to what James Freeman Clarke remarked: "A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman of the next generation. A politician looks for the success of his party; a statesman for that of his country" And of course they are nothing to be compared to Mandela!

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