It was only the second week of our “Leadership in a Livable Cities” class, I think, and we were face-to-face with former Mayor Thomas M Menino. From the readings, I pegged him as another typical “Mahathirist” politician – strong, bold, transformative.
He was all that, and more.
He wasn’t a “fancy talker”, as he plainly put it, and sometimes I strained to hear him clearly. But what clearly jumped at me was his passion for his city. His love for the art of politics, his delight in the privilege of representing the people.
So it was a shock to me, when word went around that Mayor Menino passed away, last Thursday. Several of my lecturers would start their classes with a remembrance of his legacy. The day after he passed away, the pages of the Boston Globe were plastered with eulogies of Boston’s longest-serving mayor; loving anecdotes mixed with soaring praises of the many transformations which he brought to Boston during his long tenure as Mayor.
And when I took the bus home, the day after news about Menino’s passing spread across Boston, the bus driver was telling me about how Menino had approved funding for his neighborhood’s block party, and proceeded to show up for the party himself!
It is always inspiring to see leaders who truly embody the spirit of the people, and not just blithely claim to be “pemimpin berjiwa rakyat” just for “sedap hati”‘s sake. Hopefully Menino’s leadership will inspire many others to follow in his footsteps…