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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Umno’s flawed selection method

It's not enough that an Umno-Barisan Nasional candidate be a likeable fellow; the party must also look for candidates with leadership material.

COMMENT

The way the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Umno go about choosing candidates and assessing their chances at the general election is pathetically flawed.

They don’t appear to be interested in putting up capable, determined and serious leaders for the country. They see good leadership as a game of chance.

We choose to use random methods in the hope that, by some fortuitous process, good leadership emerges.

In other words, we are gamblers leaving our leadership to chance and because of that, we often have duds emerging as leaders.

Currently, a candidate’s suitability is couched in simple-minded attributes such as how he gets along with people, playing futsal or football and if he’s a likeable person.

How do you judge whether a person has the interest of the people and nation at heart?

Surely you cannot judge them through walkabouts, playing football and such things.

You judge a person by his work ethics, by his determination and by his articulation of issues. You judge him by how hard he works at raising the standard of living of the people.

Search for sustainable leaders

But the current methods employed by BN and Umno to assess the candidates simply tell us qualities that make up a person’s disposition. It is not a reflection of good leadership.

We have to be clear right from the start – we are looking for good leadership, not a good person in the sense of possessing a likeable personality.

A good person earns credit for himself and the benefits of being a personable fellow accrue to him alone.

If he does not possess good leadership material, his defects will affect whole societies. The country needs good leadership, first and foremost.

It needs men with abilities, appropriate qualifications and the special quality that allows them to remain cool and collected when under pressure.

The benefits arising from these qualities accrue to society as a whole. Short-term judgements cannot produce sustainable leadership. Umno must recognised this.

Plan a process

Umno cannot leave the emergence of leaders to unplanned events and happenstance. It also cannot replicate the times when leaders emerged naturally.

When Umno was formed in 1946, the world was engulfed in an era of fervent nationalism.

During that time, leaders with the required temperament and idealism emerged naturally to lead.

Once that phase ran its course, the first-generation leaders passed on or were themselves consumed by power and corruption.

The premise for natural leaders cannot be found now.

We now have to either replicate the natural milieu (which we can’t) or consciously plan a selection process. We have to do the second option.

The writer is a former Umno state assemblyman and a FMT columnist.

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