Today, celebrities from the film industry will gather in Hollywood to see who takes home the still somewhat coveted Academy Award. Whilst, no such formal award show exists in the realm of politics, there is no reason why one cannot speculate on who might win a Political Oscar in 2019.
Best Peace Marker
This Political Oscar is shared jointly between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in. Both the DPRK’s Chairman and South Korea’s President have demonstrated a sincerity in their drive to heal the wounds of the past, bridge political divisions and help the long artificially separated Korean people to shape their own common destiny.
When Kim extended an olive branch to Seoul in 2018, Moon was clearly the pragmatic peace minded leader who was the right man to know what to do with Kim’s genuine olive branch. Since then, joint Korean teams have competed at the Olympic Games and Asian Games, soldiers from both Korean states now conduct joint patrols along the increasingly normalised demilitarised zone, South Korea has begun construction on a trans-Korea railway and both sides are committed to a shared economic future underscored by peace and de-militarisation.
Best Economic Recovery
The Political Oscar for best economic recovery goes to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan. When Imran’s PTI formed its first government last year, he was faced with a monumental economic crisis which saw the country’s current account deficit reach a point of extreme severity. Without losing his cool, Imran Khan has utilised his diplomatic strength and fortitude to negotiate win-win deals with Pakistan’s partners, in areas ranging from trade, credit lines, deferred payment plans, direct cash injections and most importantly, long term sustainable foreign direct investments.
Imran Khan has also accomplished something that none of his predecessors could do in respect of selling CPEC to the wider world. Thus, Imran Khan is helping China to explain that while CPEC began as a bilateral China-Pakistan project, today the economic corridor can benefit the world on a multilateral basis. This for example, is why Saudi Arabia just invested $20 billion into CPEC related projects.
Overall, Iman Khan looks to build new economic bridges with partners around the world including China, Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and beyond. By remaining politically neutral in the disputes of others, Imran Khan is tirelessly working to assure that Pakistan’s economic future is not only bright but one that is built on strong and sustainable foundations.
World’s Most Inspirational Leader
The Oscar for world’s most inspirational leader goes to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte was first elected in 2016 and since then he has never strayed from his reformist principles which have transformed The Philippines from a nation beholden to a colonial mentality, to a fiercely independent country within the dynamic ASEAN partnership of nations.
Duterte has welcomed foreign investment on unprecedented levels, has committed himself to the ‘Build, Build, Build!’ infrastructure renewal initiative, has developed a new history changing relationship with China and continues to work to build peace through prosperity within ASEAN and beyond.
In spite of facing hybrid threats to his leadership from terrorist groups, foreign regimes and a corrupt media-industrial complex, Duterte continues to clean up the streets, bays, seas and rivers of his country by promoting good environmental health, good human health, clean government and a drug free environment – something which implicitly means a crime free environment.
Duterte remains one of the most popular elected leaders in the world and through it all he has remained true to himself, true to his people and true to his values.
World’s Wisest Leader
The Political Oscar for world’s wisest leader goes to China’s Xi Jinping. Xi Jinping Thought is helping to transform China through a consistent drive to expand and build upon the evolving legacy of Reform and Opening Up. Under Xi’s wise leadership, China looks to fully eliminate the last vestiges of poverty whilst pivoting the economy from one predicated on mass production, to one focused on science and technology, future driven innovation, high quality design and manufacturing, as well as pioneering medical research.
China’s global leadership in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics and 5G will help to transform society whilst Xi’s economic model will mean that the wealth created by advanced technologies will help to nourish the material growth of the economy in a way that directly benefits the people.
While life in China continues to get better due to the inherent genius of Xi Jinping Thought, the Belt and Road initiative looks to create a world where the conflicts of the past give way to a golden era of peace through prosperity – one that is sustained by a model of economic inter-connectivity and a profound respect for national sovereignty and the unique cultural characteristics of peoples throughout the world.
Belt and Road remains the most positive driving force for economic and human development in the 21st century and it was of course inaugurated under Xi’s leadership.
World’s Most Balanced Leader
The Political Oscar for world’s most balanced leader goes to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan has faced off many challenges in his political career, but last year he was able to successfully end Turkey’s 2016 era state of emergency as the Gulenist Terror Organisation (FETO) had been successfully rolled back. Likewise, in spite of western currency speculators including George Soros undermining the lira during the 2018 election season, Erdoğan was able to restore monetary confidence in Turkey whilst remaining committed to his high growth and pro-small business policies.
Erdoğan was not only faced with having to balance internal challenges, but he also had to balance the ambitions of many of Turkey’s international partners and adversaries alike. Last year saw Turkey expand positive connectivity initiatives in Africa from Sudan to South Africa, whilst also expanding Turkey’s connectivity to ASEAN. Erdoğan simultaneously worked closely with Venezuela and Pakistan in order to help eradicate FETO from both nations.
As Turkey shares a border with both Syria and Iraq, Turkey’s commitment to eradicating the PKK and Daesh terror groups has remained steadfast and as such, Erdoğan has had to skilfully balance the different perspectives of many powers including the US, Russia, Israel and Iran – to name but a few. Erdoğan has also successfully balanced expanded trading relations with a variety of partners that do not always see eye to eye including, China, the United States, Russia, Iran, the European Union and Pakistan.
In this sense, Erdoğan has mastered the art of balance both in domestic affairs and in foreign affairs.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The lifetime achievement Political Oscar goes to Mahathir Mohamad. At the age of 94, Mahathir is the world’s oldest political leader but he remains committed to Malaysia’s continued development using the same skills that he employed to create the Malaysian economic miracle of the 1980s and 1990s.
Politically active as ever, Mahathir has create a new political environment in the country at the head of his Pakatan Harapan coalition. A staunch opponent of corruption and of political vanity projects, Mahathir seeks independent development of his nation on the ASEAN model whilst also pledging to prioritise a people-centred approach to expanded Belt and Road connectivity.
Mahathir is a living example of how a veteran leader who is old and wise can still do much for his country.
Best Political Journalist
Although it has been nearly a year since the world has heard anything directly from Julian Assange, Assange’s ‘year of silence’ through state sponsored censorship (terrorism by any other word) has spoken volumes about the systematic repression of the greatest political publisher, journalist and activist in history.
Whilst his health continues to deteriorate in his makeshift prison cell inside London’s Ecuadorian Embassy, voices calling for justice continue to be raised in defence of a man whose Wikileak’s never published a lie, but instead told the world the most important truths that the powers that be did not want people to ever hear.
Best Crossover Act
The Political Oscar for best crossover act goes to Roger Waters. Whilst Roger Waters’s lyrics were always deeply political, socially aware and deeply profound, Waters is now as vocal when speaking about contemporary global political developments as he is when in front of a microphone on stage.
His recently concluded “Us + Them” tour was as much about bringing the universal themes of classic Pink Floyd music up to date, as it was about helping to open and broaden wider discussions about international law, human dignity and justice.
Roger Waters is not the kind of musician to associated himself with “easy” or “non-controversial” issues. Roger Waters instead shows the kind of bravery, compassion and sincerity that is all too rare among many politicians both in his native England and in the US where he currently resides.