I must admit that I just had a brief look at the TV broadcast of the meeting though I was quick to note the way the two leaders sat. Obama with his hands both on the right side of of the sofa next to Najib and his body leaning across with both legs crossed and pointed halfway towards Najib’s chair. Whereas Najib sat stiffly with one arm on the right and the other on the left and feet wide apart like a king!
The non-verbal signs actually tell many things from background, willingness to listen, stress level, confidence and agility of mind. As the American system seems more transparent albeit a bit restraint compared to that of the UK, I can relate to Obama having read two of his books, “Dreams from my father” and ” The Audacity of hope” well before he became the most powerful man on earth, the President of the United States of America in 2009.
Obama comes from a humble beginning and had had to overcome a lot in his life. He learnt a great deal about endearing himself to the people especially when he was canvassing to become a Democrat senator in Chicago. His experiences in life had also taught him to be rather down to earth. Harvard education has made him into a more refined person both in knowledge and social skills and communication. So despite being the President of a great country, he appears approachable and friendly, fair and dependable. Yes, he has no family connection to hold on to during his journey to power unlike Bush and even our Najib. He is also an only child of Ann Stanley and Barack Obama, an African student. He made it all by himself and through his ability to influence and garner the people support. Simply he is indeed an amazing man. His other helpful attribute is his gift of the gab. Except for his smoking habit, he is a true model of character.
As for Najib, I hope he will continue to learn to soften his “upper-crust” bearing, be more humble and appear more approachable especially with the wife the like of Rosmah whose reputation precedes herself. From my self observation Najib has made great strides in endearing himself and UMNO/BN to the Malaysian people on paper and from the podium, yes, from the podium. Because when he talks to the ordinary people he still has that stiff “silver plate” attitude. The body language speaks volumes about a person than what he actually says and is trying to portray.
Najib’s performance compared to his predecessor, Abdullah Badawi is much better as he is more organised and wields a better control of his Ministers. And his warm relationship with Mahathir ensured a quieter period politically. And remember it was Najib’s father who helped Mahathir back to UMNO following his expulsion by Malaysia’s first Prime Minister. Najib is balancing a lot of issues but he is wading in calmer waters in UMNO.
Be that as it may, he should look again at some of the videos of him with other people and correct the perceived deficiencies. A good leader is one who is not frightened of constructive criticisms especially in this era of efficient inter-connectivity where a leader can be compared with others internally or externally at a click.