The world is ready for a new American president. A young, black American with Hussein as his middle name. Barack Obama has become the beacon of hope for many people around the world, especially minorities. We don't have to agree with his politics but he represent renewal.
We read of his Republican rival, John McCain, who reportedly planned to have Bobby Jindal as his running mate. Jindal's family migrated to the US from India. Recently, another black man was voted into the Italian parliament.
Times have changed and even the conservatives realises that talent is more important than race and religion. When you have a heart attack, you seek the help of the best doctor to save your life, you don't care about his race or religion. You want the best teacher to teach your children because you only want the best for them. You want the most trustworthy banker or accountant to look after your money. Who cares if they are Malays, Chinese or Indians as long as they can do the job?
But in Malaysian politics, we are still struggling with this issue, when it comes to the question of leadership. From certain ministerial posts to the appointment of judges, race come into play.
Even as some younger and liberal Umno leaders push for reforms, they have found themselves hitting the wall with some Umno leaders holding on to their grip at the old style of politics. Reforms are perceived as weaknesses and compromises to other races. In the name of nationalism and race, some, including respectable names, are playing the racial card to fit their political agenda. Malaysia deserve the best leaders, regardless of their races, because there is so much good things going for us if only we can go beyond race and religious extremism. We need more Obamas, not Osamas.