Friday, May 17, 2013


Now that the PM has announced his cabinet, what do the people think of his choice of ministers and deputy ministers?

Perhaps before we answer the question, we should look at the criteria for evaluating a candidate running for political office.

To help us out, let's look at Brett and Kate McKay's article "The Four Qualities of a True Statesman". It's based on Prof Rufus Fears' extensive research on statesmanship. Did the PM use these qualities as a yardstick in picking his cabinet?



A Bedrock of Principles

The statesman builds a platform on a foundation of firm, unchanging, fundamental truths that he believes at his very core comprises his overarching philosophy. In the face of changing times, opposition and challenges, this foundation will remain intact. A statesman may change the details of his policies and his methods, but only inasmuch as expedient tactics serve to further his bedrock principles in the long run.

A Moral Compass

A statesman does not govern by public opinion polls, but instead makes decisions by following his own moral compass that is rooted in a sense of absolute right and absolute wrong. He is not a relativist. When he believes something is wrong, he plainly says it is so and does everything in his power to fight against it. When something is right, he is willing to overcome any opposition to preserve and spread it.

The statesman is ambitious—he must be to obtain a position of power— but there are things he simply will and will not do to get to the top. He is a man of integrity; he speaks the truth. He leads by moral authority and represents all that is best in his countrymen.

A Vision

A statesman has a clear vision of what his country and his people can become. He knows where he wants to take them and what it will take to get there. Foresight is one of his most important qualities, because he must be able to recognize problems on the horizon and find solutions good for both the short term and long term. The statesman keeps in mind not only the here and now, but the world that future generations will inherit.

The Ability to Build a Consensus to Achieve that Vision

A politician may have a bedrock of principles, a moral compass and vision, but if he lacks the ability to build a consensus around them, his efforts to change policies, laws and the course of history will largely be in vain.

In enlisting others in government that serve with him to support his initiatives, he knows that their willingness to do so is based on the pressure they feel from their constituents to align themselves with the statesman’s vision. Thus, success ultimately hinges on his ability to convince his country’s citizens of the soundness of his philosophy.

To win their hearts, the statesman shuns media campaigns and instead harnesses the power of the written, and especially the spoken, word; he is a master orator. His lifelong study of great books and the lessons of history allow him to speak to the people with intelligent, potent, well-reasoned arguments.

Instead of tailoring his rhetoric to the public mood, he speaks to the very best that exists within people, understanding that powerful rhetoric can articulate, bring forth and activate sometimes deeply buried ideals. His authority derives from his belief in what he says. He does not make emotions soar and burn with empty promises, but instead keeps his word and does what he says he will do.

(Read the original article here.)

Let's look at our PM's new cabinet, and evaluate these ministers above using Prof Fears' criteria. By the way, include the PM as well in the evaluation.

If you have the time and interest, go to Amirul Ruslan's blog. He has taken the trouble to post links to wikipedia for background information on each of the ministers and deputy ministers. Don't be surprised to find nothing much mentioned about most of them. Yet we are supposed to accept them and trust them to lead the country of 29 million people.

And if the first public statements made by the PM and by the new Home Minister are anything to go by, the future doesn't augur well for the people of Malaysia, especially for those who did not vote for the ruling political party in the recent general elections.

Unbecoming of a PM to make such a remark. The people have a right to choose who they want.
He has no right to tell those who didn't vote for the ruling party to 'leave the country'. The country doesn't belong to him. 

Not a positive start for the new cabinet in winning over the people's confidence. And going by Prof Fears' criteria, how many cabinet ministers do you think made the cut? Start the countdown from 5. 4? 3? 2? 1? O?

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