Leadership envy

In these days when news travels around the world faster than the speed of light, Malaysians can very quickly observe how our leaders stack up in comparison with other world leaders in managing the coronavirus pandemic.

Going by social media comments, many Malaysians think our leaders are doing a terrible job compared to say South Korea, Singapore or even Israel.

A video interview of South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha speaking about the pandemic, for example, drew thousands of admiring comments from people around the world. One Briton even wondered if it was possible to borrow her to lead the UK until the crisis passes.

In Malaysia, viewers praised Kang’s performance and envied Koreans for the calibre of their leaders. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, I suppose, when we have ministers here talking nonsense on national television as the health minister did recently when he opined that drinking hot water could flush out the virus. He’s such an embarrassment to us all.

As well, in many countries, prime ministers have taken to giving daily briefing to keep the public informed; here we have “senior” ministers all talking at the same time and often contradicting each other. Where’s the prime minister?

But then again, I suppose it could be worse. Imagine having the current White House incumbent as our “wartime” leader. If bombast and false news could protect America from the crisis, America would be the safest place on earth right now.

[Dennis Ignatius |Kuala Lumpur | 23rd March 2020]

Published by Dennis Ignatius

Passionate Malaysian | Former Ambassador and career diplomat | Political affairs columnist | Human rights and international affairs commentator

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