It was a great experience watching in CNN how on that night in US, Obama became President-elect. That election energised people across the US – and the world. There was great hope and expectation. How I wish we could say the same about Malaysia’s leaders.
Here, there is an air of resignation, of politics as usual, like the gutter politics of sex videos. We need a leader who can energise us, whom we can relate to, and who embodies a vision for the New Malaysia. We need to get a large percentage of our citizens involved in the community process – which is what Obama managed to do.
So, who can be Malaysia’s Obama? I think we have elections happening in the next 6-odd months. We need change, but will probably not get it this time. The three choices this time are likely to be Najib Tun Razak (who has disappointed more than delighted), Anwar Ibrahim (let’s hope he governs as well as he talks), and a dark horse in Muhideen Yassin (also a total disappointment). I think we will have to wait a few more years before Malaysia’s Obama emerges.
What helped Obama was the Internet – in raising cash for the campaign and mobilizing millions of supporters across the country. In Malaysia, that change will come in 5-6 years although we saw something close to it in the 2008 elections with the mobile platform. But we also need leaders who can think big and put Malaysia first, but sad we don’t have that kind at this moment.
So, who will be Malaysia’s Obama? Any ideas? If I had to pick one person, it would be Nurul Izzah Anwar Ibrahim. She is young even younger than Obama, relatively young compared to the people we have now. She is liberal, hardworking and gone through baptism of fire when her dad was thrown in jail for sodomy and portrayed as the biggest sex maniac in Malaysia, all trumped up by the system. She survived all that shame and continued to be a good efficient Member of Parliament and to the people in her constituency. Mind you she is a women, a mother, a daughter and what shame she has been put through, and she still stands tall in spite of all the shit thrown at her father.
Obama used the electronic media effectively to build his brand and channelise the tremendous support for his message of hope and optimism. A few years down the line, we might have a large number of Internet subscribers but I seriously doubt that we will have a politician who can rise above the cesspool and generate the same kind of enthusiasm among common people.
Of course the two names I have mentioned the current PM, his Deputy, has been a massive disappointment. They maybe effective campaigners and communicators but they rely heavily on the same old strategy of divide and rule. In summary, our search for Obama is going to be a long and hard one.