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Let Technocrats Deliver What Politicians Can't – Syahir Sulaiman


In order to move forward, we may revisit history by bringing together the best and brightest among us into the Cabinet as well as establishing the National Consultative Council 2.0.With the competency (Al-Qawiy) and integrity (Al-Amin), let the technocrats deliver what politicians can't to make Malaysia great again.- Syahir Sulaiman, Head of Strategy, PAS Youth

“And said one of them (the two women): O my father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy” (Al-Qasas: 26)

Quranic Perspective on Leadership.

Leadership is an essential element of the organisation. As narrated by Abu Daud, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said, “That if there are three embarking on a journey, one of them should be appointed as a leader”.

In addition, leadership is the fundamental element in legislation. As such, there are several qualities leaders need to demonstrate, as stated in the Holy Quran. 

The first two qualities are being competent and having  the ability to command the trust. The appointment of Prophet Yusuf as the Economics and Planning Minister (Yusuf: 55) and the selection of Prophet Musa as the employee of Prophet Syuaib (Qasas: 26) demonstrate the significance of these two qualities.

Besides that, great leaders should have the quality of being the role model to whom they lead. For Muslims, their greatest leader is also their greatest role model, the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

Another quality is exercising consultation. Leaders must consult with those they lead in order to form a coherent opinion and have confidence in their decision making. 

Allah says, “So pass over (their faults), and ask (Allah's) forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then, when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah” (Ali Imran: 159).

Technocrats for Malaysia.

In order to explore the implementation framework of a technocratic government in Malaysia, we may revisit our history, particularly on how we survived the tragic May 13 episode.

Firstly, almost eight months after the May 13 Tragedy, Tun Razak chaired the first National Consultative Council (NCC) meeting in January 1970, to examine the political, economic and racial sparks that triggered the bloodstained incident. 

The NCC members consisted of just three ministers - Tun Dr. Ismail, Tun Tan Siew Sin and Tun Sambanthan – as well as representatives from state governments, religious clerics, professional bodies, workers’ unions, teachers’ associations – a balanced representation of the population, which is predominantly non-politicians.

The NCC deliberations over a few months produced two significant documents that guided our nation in the years ahead, namely the New Economic Policy (DEB) and the Rukunegara.

Secondly, Tun Razak appointed a group of young professionals in the public sector. Such notable names included Tun Musa Hitam, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Dato' Seri Adib Adam, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, Datuk Marina Yusof, Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad, and Tan Sri Shahril Abdul Samad. 

In addition, Tun Razak entrusted a bunch of young technocrats to spearhead the establishment of various strategic institutions, namely Royal Professor Ungku Aziz, Tan Sri Arshad Ayub, Tan Sri Ani Arope, Tan Sri Taib Andak, Tan Sri Rashdan Baba, Tan Sri Ainuddin Wahid, Tan Sri Ishak Tadin, Raja Tun Mohar and Tun Hanif Omar.

As such, looking at a page from history, we may consider the following three types of technocratic government in the Malaysian context.

Firstly, the ‘Appointed-Technocrats’ may be the ideal situation. Italy is no stranger to the phenomenon, having appointed several technocrats to lead the country out of the various economic crises in the early 1990s. 

However, the provisions in the Malaysian constitution might hinder the idea, with the appointment of the Prime Minister, who shall be among the elected members of Dewan Rakyat, although the ministers shall be selected among the appointed Dewan Negara members, with a limited tenure.

Secondly, the ‘Elected-Technocrats’ may appeal the most. Singapore is perhaps the best model for this concept, where politicians and professionals seem to have merged and immersed completely in the cabinet, followed by Hong Kong and Canada. This requires the technocrats to stand for election, and later being appointed into the cabinet.

Thirdly, the ‘Consulted-Technocrats’ may be the compromise. The government may set up a high level bi-partisan committee or an independent Royal Commission to make bold decisions such as constitutional reforms, institutional integrity, economic reforms, electoral reforms and national unity. 

In order to move forward, we may revisit history by bringing together the best and brightest among us into the Cabinet as well as establishing the National Consultative Council 2.0.

With the competency (Al-Qawiy) and integrity (Al-Amin), let the technocrats deliver what politicians can't - to make Malaysia great again.

- Syahir Sulaiman, Head of Strategy, PAS Youth
- 15 March 2017

*This is Part 3 of his article on technocratic government, as a prelude towards ‘Konvensyen Profesional Malaysia (K-Pro)’ entitled ‘Mempersada Kerajaan Teknokrat’, to be held on March 18, 2017 at Cyberjaya.