No leader is invincible!

Whether it is in the corporate and business world, in politics and government, in cultural and religious movements, in the community and among kinsfolk – no one person is indispensable however smart he/she is and however exemplary his/her leadership qualities are; however much he/she has contributed to the group or organisation and however greatly he/she is loved and respected.

Even in families where the father is the head, the roles and responsibilities of the mother and the other members are diverse. Together they form a whole and together they function as a unit. If one member falters or fails or the head of the family dies, the next in line assumes responsibility.

Of course there are extraordinary people whose talents and skills are outstanding and whose leadership is visionary. Such leaders will carry the organisation to great heights, leaving a string of achievements and an everlasting legacy. Excellent teachers inspire confidence and breed excellence in their students. Dedicated parents raise children who are outstanding whether it is in their scholastic achievements or in their personality traits. 

A true leader builds a strong and loyal team and nurtures the strengths of each member of the group and each echelon in the organisation. He/she lays down the principles, sets the targets and determines the pace for  the organisation to achieve its goals and realise its vision in the most effective and efficient ways.  

So it is whether the person is the manager of a corporation, the director of a government department or the head of a political party. Assuming a leadership position requires you to trust and to delegate and to mobilise your team for the general good. No person can do it alone or has the capacity to do so! No leader should selfishly pursue his own ambitions at the expense of his team!

The leader of a government must be relevant for the times and the needs of the nation and its people. He/she must not only have the resilience to face the greatest challenges and withstand the harshest adversities in the country’s development, he/she must have the courage and dare to take the toughest stands and the most unpopular decisions for the common good. Both praise and criticism must be handled with equanimity for the responsibilty to the nation and its citizens are great indeed. 

For a country’s leaders to cling to power when they sense the people’s displeasure and a shift in loyalties is foolish indeed! That politics has its ups and downs is a truism that must be taken more seriously. Playing political games at the expense of the people you lead is dishonourable and shows a lack of principles and integrity. When the support is gone politicians must realise that their time is up and they must pass the baton on to the next in line.

When the first elected Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan Dr Mohd Said was asked by the then Prime Minister not to contest the state seat in the 1969 election on the grounds that he had lost the support of  the major state UMNO divisions, he acceded. He knew that his time was up although he had the support of the state MCA and MIC and some of the UMNO divisions. 


He submitted his resignation, turning down  the Prime Minister’s offer of contesting a parliamentary seat and the post of a federal Minister. This he politely did in a letter, but not without refuting the flimsy argument that his leadership was flawed because he had not acquired a building for the state UMNO headquarters, and that he had not acquiesced to the state Ruler’s demands.

His principled stand was that he wanted to continue serving his constituency, Linggi and his state, Negeri Sembilan. This he had tried to do to the best of his ability for ten years, with the wisest of counsel from his political mentors and government colleagues and the highest standards of integrity. If the support was no longer forthcoming then it was time for him to move on. Being a federal Minister was not part of Dr Mohd Said’s personal or political ambitions despite the power and glamour it promised.

Ultimately one has to ask what one’s purpose and mission, goals and visions, ethics and principles in life are? Whatever path one chooses, whatever decisions one makes, ultimately one has to be able to hold one’s head high! One has to be able to live one’s life with dignity!

No one is invincible! Leaders come and go but their good name lingers on!


4 Responses to “”

  1. 1 NanaDJ
    September 23, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Very interesting. I have tremendous respect for arwah for refusing the Cabinet post. These days I doubt if we will ever come across anyone like him. If they refuse any other posts offered to them it could be because they wanted some lucrative contracts or they have some things about the power that be that they could use as bargaining tool. Most seem adamant to cling on to power despite the fact that they have outlived their usefulness.

  2. 2 ninitalk
    September 24, 2009 at 7:47 am

    I remember what he went through and how we rallied around him. Family and friends fully supported his decision although some politicians were urging him on – I suppose hoping for some crumbs for themselves!

    Yes – it’s not easy NOT to be tempted by power!It’s easier to succumb!

  3. 3 kassim ahmad
    September 24, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    the only time i came face to face with pak ngah nyit was during my grandfather’s funeral in bukit temiang. i was 12 or 13 then. my father was proudly pointing me out to him as he grunted (albeit with a smile) ‘Ni pun kau hantar ke kuala kangsar?’. we were all in awe of him.

    selamat hari raya aidilfitri.

    kassim ahmad

  4. 4 ninitalk
    September 24, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Pak Ngah Nyit adored Tok Chu Mat Kulom and as a child I remember his regular visits to our home. My brother Shap has more vivid memories of him and his wisdom.

    Yes Kassim- we Linggi people have a rich heritage that we don’t talk or write about enough. The Linggi personality (like Dr Said’s) is a bit dour but forthright and direct – unlike the other Malay groups. And the Linggi people are also reserved in the company of others and as my late mother used to say “tak lepas laku”.

    It’s up to our generation to show what we have, especially honour and dignity!

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