There was a time when I was genuinely interested in politics. This was back in 2005 or so, when I was in my second year of medical school. The previous year, a young state senator had given a speech during the Democratic National Convention in America, a speech so powerful it catalysed a movement that would eventually culminate in him becoming President of the United States of America.
Watching Barack Obama, who once described himself as a ‘skinny kid with a funny name’, overcome multiple challenges with dignity made me think that perhaps I too, should stop complaining and start making some real contributions on my nation’s political stage.
Was I too naive? Perhaps.
Fast forward to 2020 (the long-awaited year when Malaysia was supposed to have achieved ‘Wawasan 2020’), and politics has become a bit of a joke, an avenue for trolling others as well as a platform for self-promotion. Who would’ve thought that the former Prime Minister of Malaysia would go on to become the nation’s biggest internet troll? Malu apa, bossku? Like I said, it’s a joke.
Speaking of jokes, here’s one:
Name the top two ministers in Malaysia.
1) Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr Noor Hisham bin Abdullah
2) Ustaz Ebit Lew.
Harsh, but also true to a certain extent…
And yet, and yet…a part of me still wants to believe that good people should strive to lead. Leadership doesn’t just mean going into politics. We need leaders in all fields.
That’s why I’m very much looking forward to reading Obama’s forthcoming presidential memoir A Promised Land. I’ve always wondered what Obama thinks of his legacy. In his latest interview with The Atlantic, Obama spoke of how he chose to carry himself during his time in office:
Part of what you’re sensing here are times when I make decisions to be gracious, when I assume the best in people, not because I’m naive but because this is how I choose to operate in the world, because I think the world would be better if more people operated that way. Sometimes I fall short and am disappointed in myself, but at least I think it’s important to be anchored in ethics and morality and basic human decency in how you behave.
I think A Promised Land will be a very enlightening read indeed.