When I first decided to attempt at writing for the public, I decided that I would not write about politics. This decision was made because I don’t like the lack of civil discourse among our members of parliament and other politicians and the fact that I am simply not interested.
Yet, Malaysia had a big week last week that centred on politicians, and somehow I cannot stick my head in the sand any longer.
We saw one being sent to prison, one returned to God Almighty, accompanied by a deep sense of sadness and loss among his family, supporters, friends and foes alike; and one, choosing to clearly disrespect the late arwah by bringing in politics in his condolence speech.
I do wonder sometimes if most Malaysians have lost the sense of courtesy and respect, for some of us clearly do not have empathy.
But I am also a very stubborn woman and I will not waver too much from what I have decided.
Personally, I also spent the weekend playing host to a carnival attended by a minister, thus I feel compelled to write about Malaysians and our need for a hero. Because, politicians become our elected members of parliament through our votes, thus automatically assuming the title of leaders; subsequently expected to put on a cape and save us all from our daily misery.
The carnival I was a part of was a fundraising effort for my alma mater, Tunku Kurshiah College (TKC). When I first stepped through the gates 19 years ago, I was told by seniors to leave any titles I was born with (I have none) and other privilege I may have due to who my parents are or might have been at the gates.
My five years there have groomed me, taught me, and made me – I have a long line of inspiring seniors and super–seniors who far from being the articulate trophy wives we were supposed to be, as per our history originally as Malay Girls College (MGC), became their own leaders instead.
TKC girls can be found in many leadership positions both nationally and internationally – and I have to admit many of us juniors do feel like the high-heeled shoes to fill are enormous, but as TKC girls, nothing is ever impossible.
Thus when the school was told to move to Bandar Enstek in 2012, we raised and signed petitions to keep the school where it was in Seremban and to keep the school name, TKC, as our own.
We did not win the former battle and what subsequently happened was the current girls were moved into sub-par facilities and has yet to have a Sports Day in their current school grounds due to shoddy work and construction of the field.
When this was first brought to the attention of the alumni, there were suggestions that we bring this up with the people in charge and get those responsible to pay their dues. But there were no action taken and typically, we attempted to raise the funds ourselves.
We want to give our school back their school field and sports facilities; so we organised a carnival to raise such funds graced by the presence of Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor, the patron for the TKC Walk-a-Run Carnival and an alumni of the school herself, and the Minister of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin.
In short, we became our own heroes instead of waiting for one.
Watching Khairy from the side lines on Sunday, I think there is a fine tightrope between popularity and hero–worship that each politician has to carefully walk on.
Yet, the fact remains that we as the rakyat cannot simply depend fully on our heroes to save us – we must put in the hard work and effort to create the foundation on which our leaders can lead us.
If we want to vote for an intelligent leader, we must first be intelligent in choosing a leader ourselves. I still believe that civil discourse and engagement of the civil society will benefit our country as a whole and for that – we must all contribute our efforts and not merely be sheep.
I do not discount the fact that leaders must also have enough charisma and leadership qualities; and of course, the courage to bravely stand up and be counted. But I also think that we create our leaders, our heroes, based on who we are. If we are a progressive society, then we will have progressive leaders.
Perhaps the answer to Tina Turner’s "I need a hero" opening lyric “where have all the good men (and women) gone?” is simply for us all to become a hero ourselves. – Malaysian Insider February 18, 2015.
Lyana Khairuddin is a scientist who works with HIV and HPV, an educator with a local public university, and a lover of life. She switches from lab coats to running skirts effortlessly, and does most of her thinking while pounding pavements.