Aren’t we not destroying our enemies when we make friends with them? | 跟敌人做朋友

KW 20141219    跟敌人做朋友

In May 18th 1860, four Republicans awaits the news that would change their lives forever. William H. Seward, New York Senator and former governor; Salmon P. Chase, Ohio Governor; Edward Bates, former Missouri Attorney General and Abraham Lincoln, former Illinois Representative. The Republicans were to select one of them to contest as the 16th President of the United States of America.

Despite being the least popular among the four of them during that era, Abraham Lincoln became the victor in the Republican nominations. He then proceeds to win in the presidential election.

As many have known President Abraham Lincoln, he is widely famous for his death by assassination, the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves and his role in the American Civil War especially the Gettysburg Address which is given in just a few minutes.

But very few have learn that one of his significant decisions as a newly elected President is on his appointment of his members of the Cabinet. Not only did he appointed capable leaders as his teammates to lead the country, he has appointed a group of his fiercest rivals to be in his Cabinet.

Lincoln recruited Seward as the Secretary of State, Chase as the Secretary of Treasury and Bates as the Attorney General. He has also appointed Edwin Stanton from the Democratic Party as the Secretary of War.

Later on, Joseph Medill, editor of the Chicago tribune asked Lincoln why he had chosen a cabinet comprised of enemies and opponents. He particularly questioned the President’s selection of the three men who had been his chief rivals for the Republican nomination, each of whom was still smarting from the loss.

Lincoln’s answer was simple, straightforward and shrewd.”We need the strongest men of the party in the Cabinet. We needed to hold our own people together. I had looked the party over and concluded that these were the very strongest men. Then I had no right to deprive the country of their services.”

Not only that this remarkable leader has managed to bring all his rivals together, but two of them; William Seward and Edwin Stanton has grown to become the closest people with Lincoln. So close was Stanton with Lincoln, that he stood by his deathbed, and uttered one of the most memorable quote, “Now he belong to the ages” and “There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen.”

The rest was as written in the books of history, Abraham Lincoln became one of the greatest American Presidents that the world has known.

Rivalries can be so destructive that we can hardly ignore especially when one’s rivals is so strong. Great leaders instead will take the opportunity to turn their rivals into allies for the better good of any movement, organization or country.

Sadly, we can hardly see such scenario happening in the leadership of any political movement in Malaysia.

The only time when we see rivals share the same tune is when the country cheer for sports. When we cheer for Dato’ Nicol David in squash championships; when we cheer for the Malaysian badminton team in Thomas Cup competition and when we cheer for Harimau Malaya in AFF Suzuki Cup Tournament. That is when all Malaysians regardless of race, religion, gender, age or political affiliation shouted and cheered for the same cause.

In our country’s politics, leaders often try to eliminate each other or at least preventing the other to climb higher in the hierarchy. Potential leaders and ambitious youth who outshines their superiors while scaling the ladder is often “politically-murdered” before they could cling to a strong enough power. The incumbent leaders are usually afraid that their power might be seized by the new ones.

When will we be able to see political rivalries turns into alliance for a better cause for the community and country?

Imagine it if in the General Elections, capable representatives were elected to the Parliament regardless of the political party that they are representing. We would have an effective Government and also Opposition. Decisions and Bills tabled in the Parliament will be debated solely for the betterment of the country, and not because that they debate because they are in opposing factions. The country would have flourished.

If leaders were pushing for excellence in their respective organizations, they wouldn’t be afraid of others excelling over them. Real leaders would have encourage others, even those who are better, to work together, to form an ultimate team, even if they are rivals.

Unfortunately, we humans are so afraid of losing our power and positions that we turn defensive when threatened. We tend to think more for ourselves, that we forgot when we work together as a great team; we are doing it for ourselves too.

Thinking twice, aren’t we not destroying our enemies when we make friends with them?

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 19th December 2014.

Life is Unfair

Most of us grew up complaining at least once that life is unfair. Or maybe once is to absurd, we all do complain about it a lot of times throughout our lives.

Recently, I found a quote in an article that says, “Unless you’re winning, most of life will see outrageously unfair to you.”

We complain life is unfair because our parents forced us to bed at 9pm.

“Life isn’t fair because the classmate across the room scored better grade than I do when I studied harder than he is.”

“I hate life because that ugly guy who lives down the road is dating the most beautiful girl in town.”

“It is not fair that the nerdy guy got promoted as Manager.”

“I worked so hard, why couldn’t I become rich? Life is unfair!”

Sounds familiar? But we will never stop complaining that life is unfair so long as we judge ourselves by our thoughts.

Life is Unfair

Our subconscious minds tend to have positive thoughts towards ourselves. “I have worked hard”. “I am good looking”. “I’m friendly”. Unfortunately, this is not what the world sees us nor it is any form of optimism. It could be a self-deception by our own minds trying to calm ourselves to sleep every night. It seems like we have done to our best ability for ourselves and if anything goes wrong, it is the fault of others.

Lately, a friend who is aspiring to build a business came asking for ideas to source for investors and funding opportunities. I suggested the government as there are different forms of business grants and loans depending on the type of businesses.

Immediately without even asking me what sort of assistance are there, he doubted my suggestion of ‘government assistance’. And he goes complaining that the government is unfair. The government only helps the Malays. Only the Bumiputras will get the approval for business loans and grants. The applications of non-Malays is sure to be rejected by the government. Life is unfair, as he said.

At that moment, I only serve him two questions: Have you applied for any government grants or loans? How many non-Malays that you know that have applied for the grants and loans have been rejected?

He replied no for both answer.

The problem with my friend here is that he has a very negative perception towards the Government. Whether the Government is unfair or not is another matter. Before he even tried to apply for any assistance from the Government, his perception has already blocked his action and therefore, blamed them for being unfair.

In another matter, which happens last week during the heat of the debate at the UMNO General Assembly. Many said that it is a season of ‘Malay agenda’ where the UMNO delegates will usually raise issues to protect the interest and rights of the Malays.

One of the highlights that caused an uproar to the public especially the netizens are the debate statement made by UMNO Permatang Pauh Division Chairman, which claims that the Chinese in Penang are rich due to illegal economic activities.

Various comments and criticisms were hurled at that specific UMNO delegate. Yes, I do agree with the public that it is a ridiculous remark and was not suppose to be mentioned. Such statements made by any leader, be it from the top leadership or even grassroots leaders, should not even be thought of. This baseless accusations is definitely unacceptable.

But is that all that they have heard from the UMNO members. Have the people heard that there are also moderate UMNO delegates that fought for the preservation of vernacular schools? Have they known that they have even debated that the Malays should also learn a third language which is either Mandarin or Tamil?

Now, wouldn’t that be unfair to UMNO instead?

I am not trying to defend UMNO. If there is any wrongdoings that UMNO has caused, I urged that the voters must punish them by denying votes from them. Furthermore, those hurtful remarks made by insensitive delegates are just debating points and will not be taken into action unless the top leadership do so, which in this case they did not.

But let us think twice, when we think that people or life has been unfair towards us, are the outside force have been really unfair to us or is it our minds that has been choosing to be unfair towards ourselves?

Sometimes it is our thoughts that is being unfair to ourselves. We choose to just look at only one side of the coin. Probably it is time for us to open our minds and redefine our perspectives.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 5th December 2014.