Ku Li says Najib on wrong track

By Clara Chooi, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should place his trust in the younger generation rather than asking for their faith in his leadership, political stalwart Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said last night.

The Umno veteran, who in 2008 challenged Datuk Seri Najib Razak for the Umno presidency, suggested to his former rival that his leadership method “may not be correct”.

At a dinner talk here last night, the outspoken Umno veteran said that Najib’s approach needed to reflect his acknowledgement of changing trends where public discourse, participation and openness were now most valued.

Citing the example of Najib’s recent trip to Sarawak, Tengku Razaleigh, or more affectionately known as “Ku Li”, recalled the prime minister had urged the “Twitter and Facebook generation” to trust him.

He said Najib should have instead declared that he, even as the prime minister, was willing to place his trust in the generation, and kick-start the process that would help “to unleash human potential” in the country.

“It seems to me, the approach taken by our PM may not be correct. He should have stated that he trusts the judgment of the people and have faith in the people.

“In so doing, he as the leader liberates the human capital in the business of running a country and answers the question the community has been asking persistently: How do you create differentiated and sustainable growth in an environment where demand is non-predictive?” Ku Li said.

He was addressing a small dinner crowd in a speech entitled, “Malaysia: Past, Present and Future Leadership” at the Harvard Business School Alumni Club of Malaysia dinner talk at the Sime Darby Convention Centre here last night.

The Kelantan prince, however, added that Najib’s message to the young generation showed that the PM acknowledged that the sources and impetus for change were no longer exclusive to relationships characterised as top to bottom.

“He recognised that the desire to change is no longer his monopoly. This is what I mean by a shift from predictive to non-predictive demands,” he said.

Ku Li was speaking about the urgent need for political leaders of the future to change their behaviours in accordance with the changing environment.

To suit his audience, the Gua Musang MP took a business-oriented approach to the topic, pointing out that in the present global economic marketplace, the investment community was growing increasingly demanding for more differentiated and sustainable solutions to growth creation.

“Underlying this demand, a profound shift is taking place within the commercial environment that also requires a radical reassessment of leadership behaviour.

“The shift in question is from predictive to non-predictive demand — from push to pull economics and methodologies,” he explained.

“Push” organisations, said Ku Li, were top-down with centralised controls and rigid procedures whereas “pull” entities was where the leadership recognised that demand had become uncertain and unpredictable.

Political leaders, he stressed, must also be aware of this emerging trend among their electorate.

“It calls for a political system that must be highly decentralised, promote independent initiatives, is people-centric and encourages open decision-making.

“But not only do they have a different design, they also have a different language, one that replaces ‘military’ with ‘human’- regimentation and authoritarian and discretionary giving way to freedom and democracy, and rule of law,” he said.

For any future leadership to succeed in an unpredictable environment, said Ku Li, political leaders needed to behave more openly, act with integrity, and engage the governed as “wholesome individuals who do matter”.