Dr Sam's pragmatic leadership is shaping Malaysia's political future

Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar is known for his commitment to Islamic principles as Pas President Tan Sri Hadi Awang’s former right-hand man but he seemingly retains a moderate and non-confrontational approach to politics and governance.

22 Feb 2024 08:28am
Photo from Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar FACEBOOK
Photo from Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar FACEBOOK

Throughout its history, Malaysia's political scene has been one that is both dynamic and, at times, turbulent. Parti Islam SeMalaysia (Pas), which has been a significant player in advocating for Islamic ideals within the nation's governance, has arguably had an impact on this environment.

In the process of navigating these waters, personalities such as Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar reflect the more subdued and pragmatic approach that has the potential to shape the future of Malaysian politics.

Samsuri, a vice president of Pas and the current Menteri Besar of Terengganu, is known for his commitment to Islamic principles as Pas President Tan Sri Hadi Awang’s former right-hand man. At the same time, he seemingly retains a moderate and non-confrontational approach to politics and governance.

Dr Sam’s, as he is better known, approach to politics is an example of a divergence from the aggressive politicking that is typically characteristic of interactions between parties that are in opposition to one another. For example, following the controversial conclusion of Nik Elin’s case in the Federal Court, Dr Sam stated that the Terengganu administration is prepared to reassess its state Syariah law to guarantee alignment with federal law.

This shows someone who understands the law and the land. Through his decision to take a more methodical approach, he is providing a roadmap for a new age of governance that is more inclusive, patient, and ultimately more productive.

It is possible to argue that the confrontational aspect of politics is a necessary evil; politics is a venue where debate must unfold with fervour and distinctions must be delineated in a sharp manner.

On the other hand, Dr Sam's relatively short experience demonstrates that pragmatism is more effectively utilised than pugnacity. When it comes to politics, the fundamental goal should be to achieve the best possible outcomes for the greatest number of people.

Recently, Dr Sam emphasised the importance of finding effective solutions that benefit the country without focusing on disparities when discussing concerts and Chinese schools. However, constant antagonism frequently impedes this process, which in turn leads to gridlock and discord.

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In a country as religiously and ethnically diverse as Malaysia's, it is essential for political parties and politicians to concentrate on forging consensus rather than going into division. This is something that may be accomplished under the influence of pragmatic leaders. In order to comprehend the myriad of perspectives that make up the national debate, this strategy necessitates a politics of listening to both allies and adversaries.

It is impossible to overstate the significance of leadership that does not involve confrontation. The upcoming generation of leaders in Malaysia needs to represent the country's diverse and multifaceted population. The ability to negotiate, the tendency to empathise, and a vision that goes beyond political advantages are all qualities that a new group of leaders ought to bring with them.

It is important to note that these attributes should not be misconstrued as signs of weakness or a lack of commitment; rather, they are the characteristics that distinguish really transformative leaders who are able to negotiate the complexity of Malaysian society and arbitrate between its diverse constituents.

Samsuri and his political style demonstrate the fact that it is possible to be steadfast in one's views while also engaging in constructive discussion. A comprehension of the fact that long-term societal gains, particularly in a society that is working towards unity in the midst of variety, frequently need compromise and cooperation is reflected in this.

An influx of leaders who are willing to adopt this measured and collected attitude would be beneficial to the political sphere in Malaysia. This may mean that Pas will have a wider appeal and will play a more significant role in the process of developing the policies of the nation in a cooperative manner.

Perhaps for that reason, the party put forth Dr Sam as a candidate for the Kemaman by-election in December 2023.

This entails a recasting of political competition as something more like a partnership in the growth of the nation, in which various views are heard and respected, and in which the people of Malaysia emerge victorious in the end. In fact, Dr Sam’s victory in Kemaman was well-received even by the prime minister himself.

In conclusion, a new generation of political leaders in Malaysia may use the pragmatic approach that people like the Terengganu MB have demonstrated as a guiding principle.

The need for leadership that strives to bring people together rather than driving them apart is becoming increasingly urgent as the nation continues to undergo change.

It is possible that the promotion and backing of leaders who exemplify this pragmatism could not only influence the future of parties like Pas, but it could also contribute to the growth and stability of Malaysia as a whole.

Syaza Shukri, PhD, is an associate professor and the current Head at the Department of Political Science, IIUM. The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sinar Daily.

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