Elite leaders make model countries [Archives:2004/764/Viewpoint]

August 16 2004

More and more, I get convinced that leaders are indeed the foundation stone for real progress. Looking at examples of countries that excelled and developed extensively in all walks of life, we would find that it was mainly the countries' leaders who pushed for this success. Many countries were fortunate to have visionary leaders who upheld the values of democracy, civil liberties, honesty, enhancement of the standard of living, and overall development. Hence, those leaders marked the beginning of a much brighter future.
Among the good examples that come to my mind is Malaysia. This South East Asian country emerged as one of the fastest growing countries in the world mainly because it ensured that the elite of the community take charge. There is no doubt that the country's successive leaders have drawn the right lines for the country's prosperity.
Malaysians insisted that those who are willing to take charge of their country's affairs be voted to power based on their eligibility and qualifications. This is something we, as Arab countries, should truly consider.
With so much at stake for our future, we find that it is almost impossible that we could reach the level of countries such as Malaysia, without first bringing the elite to the top. Our leaders should be leaders in vision, education, experience, knowledge, wisdom, and public relations.
It may be too simple to say that a good leader makes a good country, but taking into account the fact that good leaders have applied in the past, the chain reaction to put elites in various positions of the government makes this theory closer to reality.
It is indeed common sense that those who are qualified for their positions can easily recognize that posts of other decision makers should also be allocated to qualified individuals. This would spread throughout government bodies to create a whole layer of excellent and efficient leaders in their respective fields. Eventually, this would result in an overall effective government that could – with no exaggeration – make miracles.
But let us look into our case as Arab countries. Usually, the ones in charge are below average people, who themselves do not have the qualifications required in such an era. Those rulers would then fail to select qualified people to take the ranks of government, resulting on many occasions in the appointment of people who destroy rather than build, and people who eat up public funds, rather than enforce the law through transparency and accountability. Then comes the inescapable end result of a very weak nation that is ranked at the bottom in comparison to the rest of the world.
So as not to be misquoted, I am not suggesting that our rulers should simply step-down and let university professors take their place, but should rather focus on qualifications and eligibility before any appointment. Just as the process can be implemented from top to bottom, it can also be implemented from bottom to top. Even if our leaders are not the elite of the community, they must have accumulated enough experience to realize that raising a generation of qualified politicians, engineers, doctors, and civil servants would be instrumental in the country's progress. He should then work out a way of choosing the ones who are the best in their fields, to be put in positions, which would enable them to implement their visions for the betterment of the country.
I know it is not an easy process, but if our leaders have the will to do it, and if this will is supported by a public consensus, then we can expect a much better rank for our Arab countries among world nations.