Rizal's ASEAN: The handsome orator

Charisma. Countless nations in ASEAN were born and shaped by charismatic leaders. Leaders, like the late Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysia's first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Soekarno's clear and persuasive voice complemented his handsome, imposing figure. Tall and broad-shouldered he was always impeccably dressed. - Filepic | Astro Awani

The nations in ASEAN were born and shaped by prominent charismatic leaders. Leaders, like the late Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysia’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman rallied massive amount of people with their fiery ideas and speeches.

These leaders and their ardent followers became one of the key ingredients in the modern-day nation building process in ASEAN.

Indonesia achieved its independence from the Dutch in August, 1945 following arduous struggle by peace-loving people. One of the last acts before the Independence was to formulate the shape of new Indonesia.

One man’s idea and speech came into prominence.

Soekarno fielded the burning question posed by Dr Radjiman Wedyodiningrat at the Badan Penyelidik Usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia (BPUPKI) conference in June, 1945 on principles of the new Indonesia.

Dr Radjiman posed this question at the beginning of the three-day conference; “What policies will Indonesia make after the independence?” (“Apa dasar Indonesia jika Merdeka kelak?”).

After three days, the head of BPUPKI, Soekarno answered with a rousing call to unite people, from as far as Aceh to Irian, in his grand aspiration to form one united nation.

A nation for all, not just the rich nor the poor, for everyone to live in harmony and prosper. These principles were later worked into what is now known as the Pancasila, the five tenets that forms the basis of the modern Indonesia. (Indonesia celebrates its second Hari Pancasila today).

Mifzal, Rizal's ASEAN
Soekarno’s clear and persuasive voice was aided by his handsome, imposing figure. Tall and broad-shouldered, he was always impeccably dressed.

This gave the man the aura, that je ne sais quoi, that elevated an individual to a leader.

One of Soekarno’s nine wives, Dewi Sukarno recalled her first meeting with the first President of Indonesia when she was 19 years old. In her own words, during an interview with a news network in Indonesia not too long ago, the regal Dewi Sokarno stressed that she was impressed with his knowledge of Japan.

Soekarno was a worldly man with deep interests in everything. Dewi Sukarno fondly recalled her years with the late president with a twinkle in her eyes, mixed with deepening admiration and reverence.

There were many criticisms towards Soekarno’s ideology and actions during his 22 years in power. But one just cannot deny his oozing charisma, passion and oratory skills that had moved mountains and united the tens of thousands of islands and its many inhabitants.

In 2016, Indonesian President Joko Widodo memorialised the date and declared June 1 as Hari Pancasila or Pancasila Day.

For this episode of Rizal’s ASEAN, I sat down with one of Asia’s most-acclaimed debater, Mifzal Mohammed.

It's not hard to see why he achieved the many successes, his thoughts were very clear, he spoke with eloquence and confidence, and he was calm and composed. From the photos that he shared, Mifzal is also supported by an incredibly energetic team.

I have never seen him debating live, but I have watched countless videos of him tackling various issues like a walk in the park. No qualms, no inhibitions.

Mifzal, a student of Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Shah Alam, was selected as Chief Adjudicator of the 2018 World Championship in Mexico.

This edition is the first of a two-part episode with Mifzal where I prodded him on the ASEAN advantage and how that has shaped his views on global issues.

Mifzal represented an interesting group of young people in ASEAN. These individuals are hardworking, a bright bunch of people who excel in what they do, forming the perception towards Asian and ASEAN.

This and their aspirations, complemented with that earsplitting voice, are waiting to be heard around the globe.

Rizal’s ASEAN is aired on Astro AWANI (Channel 501) on Saturdays at 1.15 pm.