VOTING is the exercise of empowerment. In a true democracy, the vote is the inalienable right of every citizen to determine the kind of leaders and government he or she wants.
Merlimau residents lining up to cast their ballots in a by-election last year. Voters will reject candidates who are pompous and arrogant.
One vote can make a difference. The vote properly cast and counted can stop not only individual thieving but also institutionalised corruption.
Winnable candidates can be defined by political parties for ad hoc purposes of winning the elections. To the people, the wholesome winnable candidate is not just about the elections.
What the so-called winnable candidates do after the elections also matters. Legally, the winnable candidate will be with the people and their respective constituency for the full term of 1,825 days. In five years, leaders at any level can do much good or much damage.
Good leaders from any political party or any sector of human activities are hard to come by. Good leaders are not necessarily good through the life span but have to be constantly vigilant with self in order to be steadfast in integrity.
In any particular organisation or political party, leaders are expected to create conditions for the happiness, safety and security of the people.
What political parties set as winnable candidates may really not be winnable enough. There are other criteria and checklists.
Candidates who will be rejected in the long-run are those who are pompous and arrogant, who are hate-mongers with destructive personal or sub-group agendas.
The negative attributes that the people do not accept include the following: the exercise of power distance; flaunting of power and living beyond means; covert looting, cheating, and wastage of public funds; and fraudulent behaviour or incompetence.
The leader must not be manipulative but must genuinely respect the people. The nominated person must not be uncompromisingly self-righteous with unresolved issues of relationship with others and with self.
The nominated leaders should not be people who would commit injustices towards neighbours or towards those who are not like them. The elected person must not be a "toxic" leader and must not damage the people or the country. He/she should not evidence inclination towards committing crimes against humanity.
The nominated leader would be one who fosters rational thinking and refinement of emotions of the people. The leader does not indoctrinate and debase God-given faculties to humans.
When the leader is elected, the people are proud to be Malaysian. It must not be the case that there is overall disappointment when a particular person with no credibility and with planned mischief comes to power to do damage in subtle and blatant ways.
The leader must not have the inclination to be corrupt but must be an example of integrity.
Political manifestos come to nought when election promises are broken and not fulfilled. Leaders who lie to the people betray the people.
The nominated leader should have a level of practical and ethical awareness that he is answerable to his party in all matters.
However, in important and critical matters he must have clear awareness that he is answerable to the people and to God.
In critical matters, his conscience should move to decide. There has to be clear willingness to draw the line between the relationship with party, and the relationship with justice, nation and God. Justice for the individual citizen, the common good, and the security of the nation overrides the interests of lobbyists or parties.
Leaders are expected to be the voice of conscience among peers and to have the courage to stand alone against the odds of injustice when a final judgment call is required.
True leaders make sacrifices and are not easily enamoured by power or wealth or adoration and are willing to lose all these in matters of first principles of justice.
Good leaders would be willing to stand against the wrongdoers of their own political party. It has been aptly said by Edmund Burke that "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".
A gift to the people is when individuals and political parties will win the elections honourably, or lose with honour and dignity as good losers.
By Datuk Dr Ibrahim Ahmad BajunidSource: The News Straits Times Columnist 24 February 2012