By Salleh Kamil

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: In the realm of societal leadership, a dysfunctional elite emerges as a group entrusted with authority and influence, yet failing in their fundamental duties towards the wider community. These elites, whether in politics, business, or academia, exhibit telltale signs of a malaise that hampers their effectiveness and betrays their solemn responsibilities.
Dysfunctional Malay Elites are largely responsible for the current malaise afflicting Malaysia. Let us first examine this phenomenon, before further studying a particular example of a Dysfunctional Elite.
First and foremost, a dysfunctional elite tends to prioritize personal gain and power over the common good. They succumb to the allure of self-interest, often resorting to corruption or favoritism to perpetuate their privileged status. This self-serving ethos breeds cynicism and disillusionment among the populace, eroding the very foundations of trust and solidarity.
Furthermore, accountability eludes the grasp of such elites, shielded from the repercussions of their actions by a cloak of impunity. They operate with scant regard for ethical boundaries or the well-being of society, perpetuating a culture of entitlement and moral laxity.
Short-sightedness plagues the decision-making of dysfunctional elites, fixated on immediate gratification at the expense of long-term sustainability. Their myopic focus on personal gain blinds them to the broader implications of their actions, sacrificing the welfare of future generations on the altar of expediency.
Moreover, an air of insularity pervades the ranks of dysfunctional elites, insulated from the realities and struggles of ordinary citizens. Dwelling in the civil service, government linked corporations (GLCs) or echo chambers, they remain detached from the aspirations and grievances of the populace, sowing seeds of discord and resentment.
Ultimately, systemic injustices persist under the watch of dysfunctional elites, perpetuating inequalities and disenfranchising marginalized groups. They resist reforms that threaten their entrenched privilege, perpetuating a status quo that stifles progress and perpetuates social divisions.
Take the example of Tan Sri Dr Sulaiman Mahbub, who should have retired 2 decades ago. During the Asian Financial Crisis one Sulaiman Mahbub was removed from the National Economic Action Council, he retired as Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Secretary General in 2004. 
Not long after in 2006, he was appointed as the Director General of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), something highly unusual as a retired Diplomatic & Administrative (PTD) officer was made to head EPU. 
Sulaiman has a long history of non-performance and wrecking institutions. Take a look at the Integrity Institute which he headed and that has no integrity! If the Institute had any integrity, surely corruption and mega crises such as the 1MDB saga wouldn’t have arisen. During his Chairmanship of Telekom Malaysia, share prices nosedived. Him being in FELDA was vehemently objected by the FELDA settlers association. More recently Tan Sri Sulaiman is associated with dubious investment approvals. If the so called the billions of investment approvals from China did actually materialise, why is the ringgit so weak and why is the Balance of Payments deteriorating?
His involvements in ThinkTanks resulted in many an institution being wrecked. For example, the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER), used to be a premier think tank that ranked among the Top 25 in Asia (according to the Think Tank index).
Mysteriously, over the past few years, the outfit appears to be somewhat defunct despite receiving millions from the Finance Ministry. While it proudly declares that the government is a client and benefactor, interestingly there is no representative from the government on its board of trustees (they were all booted out!). Make no mistake, not a single annual report has been produced since 2018!
To make aggravate the situation, it was headed by questionable non-subject matter experts in succession. While the think tank continues to occupy government property till this day, it unhesitatingly utilises the expertise of foreign nationals!
In essence, a dysfunctional elite epitomizes a failure of leadership, undermining the moral fabric and social cohesion of society. Overcoming this malaise demands a concerted effort to uphold principles of integrity, accountability, and empathy in positions of power, thereby fostering a more just and equitable society for all.
As illustrated, this person’s stint at a telco company saw the share prices and market capitalisation head south, although the blame was conveniently to be directed at Cabinet Ministers. So much for having a “Midas Touch”.
This person’s folly, truly knows no bounds as Sulaiman was instrumental to enable MIER to actually get involved in the bidding for the national car project. The outfit clearly strayed away from its original mandate. With this deviation, of course, one can expect the whole exercise not to be free. 
Still, this persona continued to be entrusted with even bigger responsibilities, helping out the government during the pandemic. Always striving, not always succeeding is an apt description of the overall scenario. Although it is not clear how much was actually delivered, or whether sound advice was given?
In what can be described as a classical case of Cognitive Dissonance, while publicly displaying the persona of a Malaysian Nationalist, privately Sulaiman has no qualms whatsoever employing foreign nationals in key research positions. Truly bewildering to say the least, as locals were not trustworthy nor competent in this person’s eyes.
Having no qualms in singing from multiple hymn books, shifting sands of allegiances to those in power. One day with one leader, the next with another.
Fortunately, though, this persona is not corrupt and does not seem to have an insatiable appetite for wealth. But not entirely frugal either. Rumours have it that Sulaiman is aiming for Tun-ship, but then again in Malaysia cows do jump over the moon!
We are truly blessed with dysfunctional elites who possess impaired judgment, luckily, there are not very many of them around. Ultimately in order to reinvigorate Malaysia. We must get rid of deadwood civil servants. State owned enterprises ought to be revamped. Roles of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) re-evaluated, amongst others. Only then can the aspirations of a new Malaysia be truly realised.