Q&A: Frederik Willem de Klerk (25 Mar 2013)
From Hozea Ngoh on May 17th, 2016
25 March 2013
The importance of leadership has been demonstrated repeatedly throughout history. Leaders, like Mikhail Gorbachev, with their transformational changes, remind us of the effect that one or a small group of political leaders can have on a society.
During Frederik Willem de Klerk’s presidency in South Africa (1989 – 1994), he initiated a paradigm shift in the modern history of South Africa, by opening the way for the first fully democratic election in 300 years, promising “a totally new and just constitutional dispensation in which every inhabitant will enjoy equal rights, treatment and opportunity”. He also released political prisoners including Nelson Mandela and together, they received the 1993 Nobel Prize for Peace for their collaboration in ending the apartheid. Ironically, F.W de Klerk’s greatest achievement as a leader may well be his willingness to surrender leadership, when President Mandela was inaugurated in 1994.
In today’s times, there are also many leaders who are making difficult but critical decisions in order to re-write the history of their countries. Aung San Suu Kyi, Thein Sein and Xi Jinping are some examples of current leaders who are spearheading changes within their societies.
F.W. de Klerk believes that leadership is a process of relentless self-examination, involves values-based decision-making, acceptance of the need for real change, communication of a clear and attainable vision, the willingness to take risks, a sense of timing, the need to persevere, and acceptance that change is never-ending.
How do the current leaders in power know when to sacrifice and give in for the greater good? Do they possess the above qualities necessary for leadership? What does it take for them to achieve better lives and futures for their countrymen? Will the reforms in Myanmar and China take flight and come to pass?
Join F.W. de Klerk, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former President of South Africa as he discusses his views and perspectives on the current global leadership developments, and their impact and effect on Asia, based on his leadership experience in South Africa.