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Mandela's life a lesson to us now

Thais of all stripes - political actors, government leaders, protesters and opinion formers - ought to read the Nelson Mandela obituaries at this juncture in our history.

He was a man who helped pull South Africa back from the brink of civil war, a unifier who commanded enormous respect among those who didn't even vote for him. He made huge personal sacrifices to take on the old establishment, willing to sit in jail rather than foment from exile. He reached out to his opponents and realised that dialogue and compromise were the solution. He saw the evil of pursuing hegemony and, though the ANC had a super-majority, it left the Constitution alone. He was sincere, charming, diplomatic and held no grudges. He opted to be a single-term president, and though he didn't achieve massive change for the poor - specifically cautioning them against overnight populist expectations - he did get on with transforming their lives effectively instead of focusing on personal enrichment. Mandela became one of four Nobel Peace laureates South Africa has produced. I was fortunate enough to see him and live under his presidency, a great example to future South Africans. There were rocky moments, but the manner in which a divided country became harmonious is part of his legacy. What will Thailand's be under our present political leaders?

Andrew Bond

Chiang Mai


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