A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them.  

– M. D. Arnold, author

 Leadership is about a person’s ability to guide a group of people or an organisation towards achieving some predetermined vision and goals.

True leadership is much more than just a person having authority and power. The point here is that a person can hold a position such as a manager, but if this person does not have integrity and does not hold themselves accountable, they cannot, therefore, be called a leader, but is a mere manager.

It is important that a person who claims the leadership mantle should only do so if he or she practices integrity.

The terms “leadership” and a person holding a political post such as a “minister” tend to be used interchangeably. However, this should not be so. A politician only deserves to be called a leader if they can fulfil their role with integrity.

Political leadership requires qualities that are beyond political functions and duties. Effective political leadership amongst other attributes requires passion, vision, courage, integrity, ability to inspire, humility and focus.

A politician as a leader has the wonderful opportunity to change the lives of people for the better every single day they are in office.

To be effective, a political leader undoubtedly has to be able to manage and utilise resources at their disposal with integrity and accountability.

The recent scenarios in Malayan politics have shown that much needs to done for true leadership to emerge.

On the Sarawak front, we have maintained a relatively stable approach to the leadership aspect. Of course, there is always room for improvement.

The latest political news here is the decision by GPS announced by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to accept the invitation by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to be a part of his Cabinet in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

Abang Johari has explained that GPS agreed only to participate as a ‘separate entity’, in a ‘PN+GPS’ formula.

This is important as this should mean GPS remains as independent policymakers for the interest of Sarawak and will not be bound by the concept of collective Cabinet responsibility if it is against the interest of Sarawak.

The decision to be a part of the PN Cabinet caught many by surprise. The majority of the feedback made to me ranged from being sceptical to outright derision. Even excluding the cyber trooper comments on social media ordinary citizens also expressed their doubts.

Some expressed concern due to the presence of PAS in the PN government. Sarawak as a peaceful multi-religious society has been able to insulate itself from any significant form of extremism and domination all these years.

Others commented that due to the history of neglect by the BN government towards Sarawak, there is little likelihood in a change of attitude and that we will be taken for another ride.

So far, only a few netizens have openly expressed support of the decision. Perhaps it will take Sarawakians a bit more time to digest this latest ‘move’.

However, there are signs of acceptance as more reasons are being disseminated. Our chief minister mentioned that the prime minister has agreed to three conditions, namely, that the federal government acknowledges Sarawak’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, Putrajaya acknowledges Sarawak’s rights over its natural resources, particularly its oil and gas, and GPS will not be a part of PN but only as a partner.

Our newly appointed GPS federal Cabinet ministers must ensure that Sarawak as a whole, benefits immediately. There must be no delays in reversing the PH policy of cutting Sarawak off much-needed development funds.

These ministers must also push through all the administrative changes necessary to transfer power related to Sarawak autonomy back here.

If there is any delay in reaping the benefits of being a ‘kingmaker’, GPS will face dire consequences at the next election, be it federal or state.

As to whether a right decision was made, I am sure it was a hard choice. Even in our own ordinary course of life, difficult choices have to be made.

In politics, choices can be even more challenging. Hard choices arise when there are limited options available, but none is better than another choice in totality. All carry elements of risk. It is better than not making any decision.

Leaders, as in this case, need to make the hard choices after evaluating all the scenarios and alternatives before them. However, once a decision is made leaders have to follow through to make sure their desired goals and objectives are achieved.

We do not need to be bystanders in this process. In this case, I am sure all Sarawakians are keeping a close eye on matters to ensure that the politicians keep their ‘Sarawak First’ promises and become true leaders.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.