“What is the difference between a statesman and a politician? A statesman does what he believes is best for his country, a politician does what best gets him re-elected” so said the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. Image source: The Economist
What Makes A Stateman?
A statesman or stateswoman is a respected, skilled and experienced political leader or figure. In most respects, it is the opposite of a politician. Politicians are thought of as people who will say or do anything to get elected or to gain power.
A statesman is someone who does everything for the common good of the people he or she represents. To call a person a statesman is a mark of high regard for that person’s integrity.
To call someone a politician usually implies the person is worthy of very little esteem.
An elder statesman is a term often defined as an older politician or advisor who is thought to be above normal politics.
Who in Malaysia can fall squarely in this definition then?
Dr M As Stateman
Who is Dr M, really?
Rocky calls him the Statesman and the DPM even goes on to say:-
“…for us (in the Barisan Nasional), we place priority on human values and give due respect to a statesman who has sacrificed a lot for the country, no matter what his views may be on various issues”
To many of the younger generations like me, Dr M was THE best Prime Minister todate (we did not “experience” Malaysia under the previous Prime Ministers although some would say Tunku Abdul Rahman’s time was still best of all).
Other Prime Ministers
The next Prime Minister, Pak Lah started off well but he was more known for his in-actions (famously his sleepiness) instead of for his actions.
Najib has good ideas (in fact, he have great ideas and putting Idris Jala in charge of the improvement on the delivery system was one of them) but the implementation of those ideas is yet to be seen in real action (all that is needed is for some sinister NGOs to make noise, implementation of solid, rationale ideas is scaled back).
So, for many of us, there is no doubt that if one to ask about the statesman who is still alive, the majority of the answer would be Dr M – he has done a lot of positive things for this country (he has done a lot of negative things for the country as well).
Level of Stateman in Malaysia
But lately, Dr M has been in the news for the wrong reasons (read this and this– it is hilarious), so much so, a reader in Malaysiakini commented:-
We’ll hail Dr M as statesman when he behaves like one…
That made the quote of the day…
It’s good to hear Dr M is out of the hospital but it will do a lot of good for the country as a whole if he leaves the dirty politics to those in power and works towards a stronger and united Malaysia as a true statesman.
If Dr M did not openly practise and condone corruption, nepotism, cronyism, favouritism and to a certain extent, racism, he’d be a great statesman. These had somehow nullify all his efforts in developing the country after twenty-two years as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, I think.
Hak – I guess one of the saddest part of this “statesman” would be not seeing Malaysia achieving its Vision 2020 in 10 years time. If Dr M still have the energy and influence, this is where he should be concentrating on instead of on some petty and unfounded issues.
It’s very sad that TDM has aligned himself with PERKASA, a clear racist group. I wish someone close to him can advise him to stay away from that group and as well as stay away from Ibrahim Ali too. Yes, I agree with your view that TDM, with the energy and will that he still have with him, should concentrate and assist the current leaders to achieve Vision 2020 that he had initiated when he was the PM.