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Leadership in Context

by Vorak Ny

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness trust upon them" -- William Shakespeare

Election is now in season -- issues are on the table and overwhelming. Election victory should observe not just a victory of a party, but a celebration of freedom of choosing -- symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning -- signifying renewal, as well as change and future. The unity as nation is not simply desirable; it is inevitable.

Throughout history, a leader could either raise a nation out of harm's way, or drown in a sea of infamy. Some leaders in my time have been viewed as both a hero and a tyrant. Their patriotism was often unquestionable; they fought courageously to defend Cambodia against foreign invaders, and undoubtedly have gone to battle to die for their country.

For thousands of years men dream of their vision. They lived believing that a dream can be achieving it by acting upon it, and throughout history of great nations, great leaders rose to leadership from the ordinary life, and needed or have demanded a monument, not lacking belief in people's greatness, and their capacity to change. That is a person of achievement.

Samdech Hun Sen was born into a peasant family in Kampong Cham Province in 1952. He received basic education from local village pagoda school, educated by Buddhist monks, and continued secondary education at Lycée Indra Devi in Phnom Penh. Samdech Hun Sen became Prime Minister of Cambodia in 1985 at age of 33.

There is no design for leadership. A leader should strive to protect the dignity of his public office, and execute his duty in the interest of the nation. Can one individual, acting alone, solve the most significant problems? There is a tendency to create a hero, but this requires collective solutions of people with rare gifts working together as equals.

Leadership is intended to stand above quality and to function passionately for the public office he is elected to hold, and to put public interest above his own. Good leaders share certain essential characteristics, including their excellence and ability to work collaboratively with others pursuing national common dream instead of egotistic ambition.

A leader should signify the heroism of those who he represents, and must realize that he can only accomplish extraordinary things for the country by involving people who can do things that he cannot. Those who seek out leadership role while having no desire to be held responsible should be avoided at all cost.

A leader must exist in a fertile relationship with his nation. A leader finds greatness in himself and his nation, and helps others find greatness in themselves, and pass on to later generations. A well-respected leader leads by example, and the society will follow suit.

The myth of an individual born to rule is deeply ingrained in Cambodian psyche. Our contemporary views of leadership are bound with the notions of heroism and the god-like. The distinction between those in the authority and the ordinary is too often seemed as inherently individual phenomenon. Yet despite the rhetoric of collaboration, the Cambodian people continue to advocate it in a culture in which people strive to support that state of individualism.

Visionary leaders dream of change, with the force of will to reshape event in achieving their objective goal. Yet a visionary like Pol Pot has resulted in catastrophic loss. Idealists may become either saviors and villains, but one thing is certain: A vision of change has made Cambodia what it is in the present day. So choose your leader wisely!

The good, the bad, and the murderer may all be in the leadership role. Some inherited the reins of power dictating the course of nation in their own view, and define greatness by conquest, and murder. Their personality and ambition are no different in than that which afflicts all human existence.

Cambodia has been through numerous regime changes, and remains a very fragile state. Communism is gradually fading away. Socialism is declining as an effective role model. Democracy isn't a perfect one, but for what I have gone through it is the best among these choices.

Every great nation is built on individual citizens who demonstrate heroism in theirs own right. Napoleon once said, when asked to explain the lack of great statement of leadership that "to get power you need to display absolute pettiness; to exercise power you need to show true greatness. Such pettiness and such greatness are rarely found in one person."

Each citizen has a part in its history. Everyone has an important role to play in making excellence a reality. The greatest threat to the country is that its citizens do not fulfill these roles. The tasks that can only accomplished collaboratively, with the powerful conviction of the individual, are the only real social obligation.

U.S. President Gerald R. Ford once said "To me, being a citizen of the United States of America is the greatest honor and privilege in this world." Together, a nation will continue to build upon and enhance the high standards and commitment that are the hallmark of a decent and hopeful society.

There are many things have gone wrong in our country, and most have to do with our own selves and our collective moral character. Achieving excellence depends, in large part, on the support and involvement of all citizens to build a more hopeful future. As a nation, individual bear some blame for the country's downfall.

Many nations shared similar success of trials and errors. Leadership has turned out to be one of important factor of all the missing puzzles. All evidence suggests that those national successes rest on the quality of individualist idealism and vision. And Idealism alone requires strategic vision before reaching a common goal.

Nation interest depends largely on private character. Individuals should demonstrate good moral character in: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. To be a good leader, one requires a good moral discipline and unselfishness of exemplary character. The character of individual is as important as anything a government does.

Fate has been kind to Cambodia, but costly, considering the numbers: decades of war, millions killed. Lack of will to change, self-imposed negative rhetoric, and waiting for the issue to resolve itself (a euphemism for doing nothing) will not guarantee results.

This writing is predicated on the conviction that leadership does matter! From village gathering, to city elites, to the halls of government, and to each individual; one needs to assume leadership roles. Be supportive of elected leaders and their commitment to carry a duty to undertake his power within a lawful framework.

We should rejoice in the accomplishments of those before us, but be always vigilant that the future is ours alone to shape. For your future: Go to the poll and vote on your conscience!

-- March 2007


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