Leaders, humble pie and lamb stew

In 2014 during the hype over removing Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as Mentri Besar of Selangor, I attended a forum by then Pakatan Rakyat over the need to remove him at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).

The panelists were DAP’s Tony Pua, PKR’s Rafizi Ramli, activist Hishamuddin Rais and PAS’ (now Amanah’s) Hanipa Maidin.

And for causing this entire turmoil which was then branded the Kajang move, only one lawmaker on that panel actually started his speech with an apology of any sort to the people.

And that was Tony Pua. In fact, I stood up and pointed this out to the panel.

Thus, what the politicians of the DAP and Madeline Chang in tow have done by actually dining in Skohns yesterday night is not just another public relations stunt or a mere act of damage control. It is the willingness to see past their faults, lighten up, and make things right.

What the DAP has done by going to a little cafe with cheeky advertising (even before their visit, Teresa Kok’s fengshui remark became an ad) that they have a willingness to set what they did wrong aside and put things right.

They perhaps lost their way in their eagerness to defend their lawmakers and upper echelons for a while.

To be fair, we have seen much worse here in our country to the point that even the Prime Minister seems to be walking with a halo on his head as “God’s chosen one” to some Umno lawmakers.

Maybe some of their supporters and supporting personnel even became a little paranoid of their own shadows to the point that cheeky advertisements regarding their Secretary General became an issue.

But they ended it, by making things right and dining on humble pie.

Leadership in politics is about knowing when things are awry, to know that when one makes a wrong decision, they should own up to it and take measures of making sure it does not happen again.

And in this day and age in Malaysia, there are a lot of things done and said by Malaysian politicians that are just downright wrong and stupid. Even worse, we have few politicians on both sides of the aisle who would be willing to dine on humble pie.

We have politicians receiving donations in the billions that somehow raised no red flags in our financial system.

We have a chief of police who won’t apologise for the police for use of excessive force that accidentally killing a teenager in my hometown of Shah Alam.

We have civil servants corrupting the system to the point that RM100 million can go missing without anyone noticing for six years.

We have so many instances where politicians say stupid things that can tear the fabric of our multiracial unity with no shame whatsoever nor any action taken against them.

Due to this, Malaysians have grown to become a cynical, sarcastic bunch. I should know, I’m one of them, just with a bigger mouth enough to trigger an avalanche of manure.

A wise man once told me that the hardest thing for a politician to eat is “humble pie”, and sometimes they go their entire lives without ever swallowing a single bite.

See, for politicians, there is something about this pie that they just can’t swallow or digest.

This – the wise man said – was how you separate leaders from politicians.

And with the simple act of dining in a tiny, British inspired cafe ( Skohns is actually the proper pronunciation for scones) based in Damansara Perdana, those DAP politicians proved themselves leaders.

Leaders who are willing to dine on humble pie – or in this case, lamb stew – to set things right.

If anything, it is these small acts of correcting oneself among politicians and political parties that will give hope to the Malaysian population that maybe – still a maybe – they might be ready to run an entire country soon.

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