Power can put leaders in a spell. It can take over one’s mission to serve, to that of being served. It can be as addictive as drugs and as destructive as a nuclear bomb. Three nations have leadership problems that have caused political instability. The United States has President Donald Trump; Thailand, King Maha Vajiralongkorn; and Malaysia, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
From the looks of it, Trump will lose to Joe Biden. But the Don won’t go out that easily as he is taking the fight to court. And if he isn’t careful with his words, the US president might incite his supporters to march on the streets which will surely bring trouble and chaos. The Donald Trump Show began its telecast upon Trump’s inauguration. He promised to make America great again and what a roller coaster experience the American people got. He abrogated some of the good things Obama did; isolated the US from its neighbors and allies; made friends with North Korea and Russia; declared a trade war with China; withdrew from the World Health Organization; and failed to adopt a clear strategy against the spread of Covid-19. Yet, he is loved by white supremacists; evangelicals, Cuban refugees and those who have been displaced due to American companies relocating to China. The showman that he is, Trump doesn’t want the klieg light turned off on him. And, that indeed is a problem.
The present royalty of Thailand is a total opposite of his father Maha Bhumibol Adulyadej Maharaj, a conservative and revered figure. Protected by the lèse-majesté law, the monarch cannot be criticized, otherwise, one can be criminally charged and imprisoned. The military is tied up to the monarchy, thus, the former obtains support from the king in the coups that have deposed democratically-elected leaders. Today, students and intellectuals have taken to the streets for constitutional changes to the power of the monarchy.
The military has yet to make its move. If the protestors remain adamant; that indeed is a problem.
Mahathir bin Mohamad served as the fourth and seventh prime minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 2003 and again from 2018 to 2020. In the latter period, he collaborated with erstwhile foe Anwar Ibrahim to return to power on the condition that Ibrahim succeed him. But through some machination, Ibrahim was by-passed when Mahathir resigned on Feb. 24 and Muhyiddin Yassin, the president of the Malaysian United Indigenous Party, was sworn in as prime minister on Feb. 29. Ibrahim and his supporters are not taking this back-stabbing lightly. And that indeed is a problem. Power struggles do not only involve the leaders, but mainly affect their supporters, if not the general population. At times, it can be bloody. And that indeed is a problem.