People, not leaders, make a nation

Malaysians are at a crossroads and must decide between good values-imbibing leaders and materialistic ones.


Every country has its own human assets, namely the people and their leaders. The fate of a country then depends very much on the quality of these human assets.

The two can either make or break a nation – the power of the people and the role of leaders. The people and their leaders who possess the right qualities can together make a nation great.

A point to note is that while together, the two can make a great nation, alone a leader is nothing.

But the people, on the other hand, can still make a great nation.

How? You may ask.

Well, without a leader the people can on their own deploy their internal mechanism by organising among themselves to collectively manage a nation.

If the people themselves are capable of building a great nation, then they should not be too dependent on a leader.

Many nations suffer when they are too dependent on one leader. Such a scenario is inviting risks where the chances that the leader will take advantage of the situation are high.

Ultimate power

Malaysia suffered from this leadership dependence syndrome during 1981– 003 period when the people were led to believe that one man had turned Malaysia into a developed nation.

Similarly in Sarawak from 1981 until today, the Bumiputera races (not the Chinese) have been led to believe that only under one particular leader (we all know who this is) can development be implemented successfully.

But true democracy lies not on our dependence on a leader; it lies in the ultimate power in the country which is vested in the people. It is not vested in an elected government.

The people have the power to elect or reject a government. After all, elections in Malaysia are held in consistent cycles.

Conversely, the leaders and the people’s bad traits can break a nation even to the extent of ruining it and sometimes a villainous leader’s actions alone can break a nation.

Hence when we talk of good leadership, its role has to be complemented by the people for the well being of a nation.

If the teamwork brings progress and development to the nation, then the leaders will continue to be accepted and supported by the people.

‘Leadership drift’

However, a crucial issue takes centre-stage when a leader starts to deviate from the national agenda and pursue his own personal agenda.

This is what I call the leadership drift where he starts to detach himself from the common people and national interests to pursue his own personal interests.

This can happen because leaders and people are two different entities.

A leader is granted certain powers and rights as long as he does not deviate from the national agenda.

However, once he is chosen by the people as their leader who will make important decisions for the nation, a crucial issue sets in.

He has reached the crossroads – a move that will make or break the nation.

If the people put too much trust in him, there is a big possibility that he may start to abandon the national agenda to pursue his own personal interests.

Here is where the power of temptations set in. He will make his own independent choice – either to be the nation’s good leader or a bad one.

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