Challenge and Response- PM Najib

In the coming weeks, I will be consulting with people around our country, as I begin to reshape the leadership and priorities of the Government. I am mindful that we should build on the successes and lessons of the past. It must be a government with new approaches for new times – a government that places a priority on performance, because the people must come first.

We must reach out to all parts of Malaysia…to all our diverse communities. In our national discourse and in pursuing our national agenda, we must never leave anyone behind. We must reach out to the many who may have been disaffected and left confused by political games, deceit and showmanship.

The above passages were extracted from the maiden speech of DS Najib as the 6th PM of Malaysia. Sakmongkol joins the rest of the nation (minus the 81 MPs and some petition signers) in welcoming our PM.

The ascension of DS Najib marks the beginning of a government and leadership which are achievement oriented. It will be a government with a 'will this work' approach. It will also be a government which will be inclusive leaving no one behind.

It will be a government moving with quiet confidence eschewing political gamesmanship, deceit and showmanship.

I think DS Najib will agree with anyone who says it is too early to judge and generalise his approach in government. It will also be on the other hand, a reflection of goodwill on our part, to give him a chance to prove himself in what he does.

The release of 13 detainees and lifting the ban on opposition papers cannot be total reflection of what the PM and our country's leadership will do. One swallow does not make an Indian summer. For now though, his initial actions are pleasantly sufficient to indicate a leader who moves to establish his imprimatur.

A few days before the UMNO General Assembly when Sakmongkol had the opportunity to talk to him( no, I am not his adviser nor do I mention this episode to suggest that I am close to him or whatever other things detractors may wish to interpret), DS Najib appeared very serenely confident and mentally geared to step into the PMship.

One of the things DS Najib mentioned was factoring in Tun Dr Mahathir. I am beginning to realise and I hope this will be so, that factoring in TDM does not necessarily mean that TDM must be physically present in the present government makeup.

A more relevant thing to do, as a mark of factoring in TDM, is to infuse a decisive leadership. A decisive leadership in turn does not necessarily mean a repressive and dismissive ruling approach. DS Najib has already shown an early indication by stating that he wishes to be inclusive. He is committed to strengthening the institutional foundations of a democratic society. The release of the ISA detainees and the lifting of the ban on opposition newspapers are early indicators of his leadership desirous of engaging diverse viewpoints.

The factoring in of TDM may mean being respectable of TDM and his 22 years of accomplishment. It may mean honouring his ideas and most relevantly by adopting a decisive leadership. It will not mean however an absolute and flattering acquiescence and obeisance to what TDM wants.

DS Najib has started on a promising note by posing some big challenges. These include his commitment to strengthen the institutional foundations of a democratic society, to be inclusive and insistent on being judged on performance. The last challenge appears to be a pragmatic stance of a leader who refuses to be absolutely tied to the past.

I hope the creation of challenges in a Toynbeean setting will evoke the necessary responses. I join many of us likeminded citizens in hoping DS Najib will be a leader of a creative leadership minority. Once again, I join millions of others, in wishing him well and Godspeed.

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