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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Dictator In Need

For Malay language version please click here.

I have to confess that when I first hear the word 'dictator' the only information and images that I received is that it is something bad. Images of Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Saddam and Gaddafi among others are those that entered my mind when hearing the word. The word portrays the image of a ruler with total power over a country and typically one who has obtained power by force, synonymous with autocrat, despot, tyrant, oppressor and all the negative ways and method of how to rule a country, for the citizen at least.

Closer to home, we've heard that the late Lee Kwan Yew was called a dictator too and to certain extend our own Tun Mahathir during his stewardship of the country.

Photo credit: Google Images
I was introduced to the origin of the word actually from playing computer games. Rome Total War (developed by Creative Assembly and originally published by Activision) is one of the game that sparked my interest in wanting to know more about ancient history especially during Roman republican era that introduce me to dictators like Sulla and the most famous Roman (which I'm sure everyone has heard of) Julius Caesar and have learned that the office of Dictator itself is nominated by the Roman senate in emergency situation.

By law, the Roman republic was ruled by two consuls elected each year with each consul holding imperium (a Latin word meaning 'power to command') the armies of the Republic in alternate months. In the event of extreme emergencies, like the consuls themselves are not capable of being good military commanders and in many cases, the consuls themselves were killed in battle then the senate will pass a senatus consultum (decree of the senate) for existing or newly appointed consul to nominate a dictator which holds great extraordinary power. The office of dictator itself is originally set for 6 months and only renewed should the need arise.

Among the famous dictators of ancient Rome was Quintus Fabius Maximus who was appointed dictator after two consular armies were defeated by Hannibal during his invasion of Italy and even after his term has ended he was again consulted after Hannibal again defeated even bigger Roman consular armies at the famous Battle of Cannae.

Photo credit: Google Images
The other famous Roman dictator was Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus who was made dictator twice and was regarded as a model of Roman virtue and simplicity. What's interesting fact about Cincinatus is that he hold the most supreme power the first time for only two weeks, where he resign from his office right after he completed his tasks of defeating the enemies of Rome.

His immediate resignation of his near-absolute authority with the end of the crisis has often been cited as an example of outstanding leadership, service to the greater good, civic virtue, lack of personal ambition and modesty ~ Wikipedia

Cincinnatus was also nominated the second time even as he already retired and working on his farm to put down conspiracy and rebellion in Rome and like the first time, he resign immediately after the crisis has ended.

Within his lifetime Cincinnatus became a legend to the Romans. Twice granted supreme power, he held onto it for not a day longer than absolutely necessary. The high esteem in which he was held by his compatriots is illustrated with an anecdote from the end of his life: one of his sons was tried for military incompetence. The great Capitolinus defended him by asking the jury who would go to tell the aged Cincinnatus the news in the event of a conviction. The son was acquitted because the jury could not bring itself to break the old man's heart. ~ Wikipedia

Photo credit: Google Images
The more I read about the deeds of these ancient dictators, the more I can't help to have these feeling that a dictator is what Malaysia needs at this time. With all the issues surrounding the government regarding the 1MDB, the mistrust in the Prime Minister, the internal squabbles with the Opposition pact it seems to me that a strong, capable leader who 'been there, done that, got the t-shirt' to prove it' who can come and lead us out of these mess and then resign when these crisis is over.

Photo credit: Google Images
No, I'm not advocating a rebellion or revolution whatsoever (so don't change me under Sedition Act) and only suggesting that what may be possible. What if Tun Mahathir or even Tun Abdullah can again be the president of UMNO and chairman for BN as a temporary measure? These two statesmen have known how to rule and also to let go of the rule.

Photo credit: Google Images
I'm sure if these two of our former statesmen can come again to save the nation in these times of trouble, 50 years from now our next generations don't have to go back to more than 2000 years ago to learn that the word dictator does not always mean a bad word.

Disclaimer : All images are for illustration purposes only and this blog author does not claim any copyright to the published images and he only copied the images already publicly available on the internet (unless stated). The blog author also wishes to state that his opinion posted on this blog are his alone and not paid by any political parties.

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