Dr. James Bacchus: From a Journo To a World Politician

Some parts of his life is a typical story of baby boomers, a generation before mine. Dr. James Bacchus was the first person in his family to get a college degree. He got a full academic scholarship from Vanderbilt University and later received a fellowship to attend graduate school and study history at Yale University. And then he went to Law School at Florida State University while he was a young aide to the Governor of Florida.

“Having the opportunity to go to college changed my life and opened up a whole world of opportunities for me,” he said.

His time at Vanderbilt University opened his mind to a world in which there are many ways to think, believe and live. “It also made me realize that despite all the many different ways, all that unites us is more than all that divides us. And many of my travels to different countries, I have been reaffirmed in that belief.”

He was 14 years old when working as a journalist in a little newspaper in Florida. He learned a lot. At 18, he became a journalist for a much bigger newspaper in Orlando.

He worked there during summers and vacations while he was an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University. And he continued to work for them until he left Vanderbilt before he went in the army.

“And then after I got out of the army, I went to Yale University. In the summers when I was assisting in Yale, so I began covering statewide politics in Florida in the age of 20. I was a correspondence reporter at 22 and in my journalism career, I got to know a very idealistic Florida politician named Rubin Askew,” Bacchus reminisced.

He later became Askew’s youngest aide. “[T]hat gave me opportunities to serve after he finished his tenure as governor, he became the U.S. trade representative. I went to Washington to become his assistant and that is how I became involved in trade.”

This is the point when his story is atypical of baby boomers. Bacchus’ career has ever since flourished. He is now a distinguished professor of global affairs and director of the Center for Global Economic and Environmental Opportunity at the University of Central Florida. Prior to that, he was a founding judge and former chairman, and a key part of Appelate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO). (*/)

Indonesia Needs No Politicians But More Statesmen

English: Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singa...
Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, being escorted by United States Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld through an honour cordon and into the Pentagon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Crap! It’s like soap operas are not enough. Indonesia news these days and one year ahead has been and will be a disgusting pool of information on morally rotten politicians and may-God-burn-them-in-the-bowel-of-hell type of corrupt public officials and their not so surprisingly disgraceful deeds.

I don’t CARE. Seriously, I do NOT.

While a flock of journalists around me chattered about the nausea-inducing politicians, I abandoned them for a read on a real statesman from the neighboring island state, Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew as presented in “Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going” has stated so many mind-blowing pieces of truths, hard cold facts to swallow. An inspiring book everyone has to read, I suppose, especially if you’re not a narrow-minded person.

So what does the book have to do with us Indonesians? It – to some extent – teaches me that so long as we have too many politicians in Indonesia, this nation will find it hard to move forward and make progress rapidly catching up the other more developed and more prosperous ones.

But wait, what’s a statesman? And how are these statesmen different from politicians? They look and sound similar. They’re housed in the same building most of the time. They work and adopt more or less similar way of life. Close with the powerful authority and hence influential enough to the rest of the nation.

A statesman, as I look up in my e-dictionary, can be roughly defined as “a man who is a respected leader in national or international affairs”. A statesmen should be astute and sagacious, looking and behaving like a sage or hermit full of wisdom in his nearly bald head.

A politician, however, is merely a person actively engaged and involved in party politics. Even more evil definition exists, a politician may be a schemer who tries to gain advantage in an organization in sly or underhanded ways. I’m not surprised though.

The two are closely linked – even intermingled with each other – I would say, but the huge gap between a politician and a statesman lies in the profound and visionary understanding of managing a nation.

In my own understanding of statesmen, I can safely say that Soekarno and Hatta are two of them. Soeharto? He is a personality with too many facets, and thus require more complicated judgment. If I really have to decide though, Soeharto is half way there but not quite impressive.

Lee Kuan Yew is very much different. He is a dictator perhaps to some people, just like Soeharto. In terms of visions, he has got what it takes to be a statesman. Maybe he gets too rich compared to the average people of Singapore but if that means significant real improvement in the nation’s squality of life, why not? And if he manages and runs the nation like a professional and get paid after that like a CEO and turning the richest and the one in the company, why not? Because he deserves that and above all, his achievements are there to see. Lee’s policies are criticized badly here and there by his own people but he has strong reasons for any of the steps taken. There are consequences to follow but it seems he has gotten everything taken care of.

Once again, it is of course unfair on so many levels to compare these two entities (Indonesia and Singaporean leadership). The two countries are different and unique.