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The secret of the Umno-led Barisan Nasional is its ability to provide this without
too much swelling of the welfare budget.
Of course, more than this is the growing economy which ensures that we have no unemployment
and poverty even if crime, social ills, and diseases are on the rise.
Mahathir's government is far from being in danger of loosing its grip on the voters
as long as prosperity is not illusory.
For most politicians, their job remains fun. I should know and I can say with humility,
having once been a politician, it is true. A journalist or a diplomat tends to treat
his profession as work. In any event, these professions involve hard work and long
hours with their greatest compensation being amazing fascination. I am fortunate
that I have experienced and am experiencing all three professions rolled into one.
Presently, none of the three professions is easy nor difficult, however, they are
becoming more competitive.
What makes young Malaysians-join politics? Sense of public duty? Self-aggrandizement?
Because politics is a short-cut to riches, fame or infamy?
I like people to start young in politics, if they must.
Mahathir, Deputy Prime Minister Dao' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Education Minister Dato'
Seri Najib Abdul Rahman, Tengku Razaleigh, Musa Hitam, and I started early. Mahathir
was already a political activist at 16, fighting the Malayan Union by writing anti-British
slogans in English and Malay.
Let the best of them stay on in Parliament, if the voters will support them. Good
examples are Mahathir and Tengku Razaleigh. At the same time, let the best of them
(leaving politics for whatever reasons) come back into government after a break even
if they are over 60 years old.
I once told Anwar, that experience does not nor will ever come cheap.
In the United States and the West, ministers and ambassadors, among others, move
in and out of service. Thus the sack, resignation, defeat or retirement should not
be the end.
Dato' Abdullah Ahmad is Malaysia's Special Envoy to the
(This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of Sun )