Two months after Najib Razak became PM of Malaysia in Apr 2009, late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, together with a group of Singapore ministers paid a visit to the Malaysian government in Kuala Lumpur.
Strangely in that visit, MM Lee specifically made a special request to the Malaysian government that he wanted to meet Rosmah, Najib’s wife. Rosmah was not a politician and neither did she hold any official positions in the Malaysian government. She was merely the First Lady of Malaysia.
MM Lee, together with 3 Singapore ministers, Tharman, Ng Eng Hen, Lui Tuck Yew and senior parliamentary secretary Masagos, then went to her house in KL to meet her.
When news of MM Lee’s “special” visit to Rosmah at her house became public a couple of days later, he told the media why he visited Rosmah.
This was reported in ST on 13 Jun 2009 (‘Why MM Lee asked to meet Najib’s wife’).
Straits Times reported, “MM Lee said he called on Datin Seri Rosmah because he had been told that she and her husband worked as a team and it was necessary for him to understand both members of the team.”
Apparently, according to the report, MM Lee together with the other Singapore officials met her for an hour. They spoke over “satay and Malay kueh” and talked on various things.
In particular, ST reported that MM Lee spoke to her about bilateral cooperation, even though she was not the foreign affair minister. He said cooperation between the 2 countries has to be long-term and not “chop and change”.
“It has to be across the board, you can’t just pick and choose,” MM Lee reportedly said to her.
Years later, Rosmah has become one of the most hated women in Malaysia.
Even before Najib fell in the recent Malaysia General Election, Malaysians already did not like her (‘Malaysians don’t like Rosmah, that’s all: Raja Petra‘ and ‘Why is Rosmah a lightning rod of criticism?‘)
After Najib lost in the general election earlier this month, police raided the residences of Najib and Rosmah uncovering huge bags of cash, jewellery, expensive watches, high-end bags, etc. (‘Rosmah Mansor: police raids and lavish lifestyle of Malaysia ex-PM’s wife draw comparisons to Philippines’ Imelda Marcos‘).
She was even ridiculed as a “bag lady” (‘From Malaysia’s ‘first lady’ to ‘bag lady’: why Rosmah Mansor’s vast collection of Hermes Birkins caused a social media storm‘).
When Najib was the PM, Rosmah held considerable authority, but without the responsibility, as she did not hold any official government position. MM Lee’s special visit to her illustrated her importance in influencing government decisions from the back.
Common sense dictates that when one has the authority without the responsibility, one would tend to make more reckless and unsound decisions.
World-renowned management guru, Peter Drucker, once said, “Authority without responsibility is tyranny, and responsibility without authority is impotence.”
Do you agree with Peter Drucker?