Sunday, January 06, 2008

Leadership and Morality

NST writer Aniza Damis interviewed Mohd Tap Salleh, president of Integrity Insitute of Malaysia for his views on what constitutes morality in our leaders and what rights we, as citizens of the country, have over them. This is, of course, in the wake of the resignation from public and political office, of Chua Soi Lek after he admitted to be the man in a sex DVD..

Mohd Tap says that leaders must lead because the citizens have surrendered their rights to the government and leadership to manage and regulate what citizens should and shouldn't do.
Therefore, people who are in leadership must be exemplary in their code of conduct and their moral standards.
They must be seen to be not only white, but whiter than white, he said.
When you occupy that position, you have to satisfy the people's trust in you and you have to have certain ethical and moral standards which you cannot compromise.

People do have the right to expect a lot from you, as a leader. And there is no difference between private morality and public morality.
In essence, if you have chosen to take that office (of public trust), there are established standards of morality you have to unequivocally uphold and maintain.

What Chua did (to resign) was expected of him. It was not extraordinary. But many people think it was so fantastic (of him). Not really. He had no choice in the matter.
Some people thought it was such a big deal perhaps because, in the past, there were leaders who had compromised their public office by acts of corruption but took a very long time to resign, or never at all. So, in that scenario, what Chua did seemed so magnanimous.

Indeed, Mohd Tap said that the public has the right to condemn any act of corruption, transgression or misdemeanour on the part of their leaders because we have surrendered some portion of our rights to them.
So, we expect exemplary behaviour from them.
Society has the right to judge (its leaders).
There is no such thing as "I am doing this in my private capacity".

Hey, we are only human. And human beings are not infallible, But when you, as a leader, made a mistake or erred and therefore tarnishes the public office and service you represent, you have to answer to that and be accountable.

Yep....you cannot have your cake and eat it at the same time.
And sorry, all you politicians or civil servants (who are at the service of the public), when you are caught with your pants or skirts down, you cannot turn around and slap that "holier-than-thou so don't judge me" line on others.

It is an issue of ethical leadership by example -- something we all have to believe in but many have chosen to forget!

Here's the full interview.
I'd certainly recommend this to be read by our leaders. Seriously.

8 comments:

a malaysian in riyadh said...

Sis Ena
Greetings from Hong Kong.
Vladimir Putin, The Times' Person of the Year said this in his recent interview:

First and foremost we should be governed by common sense. But common sense should be based on moral principles first. And it is not possible today to have morality separated from religious values.

aMiR

Anonymous said...

Nuraina,
It is well and timely, this interview.
Timely,becos now we have an example in the recent episode with a public figure.
Public figures are entrusted to uphold basic ethical values besides the all pervading moral standards of self.
Wrongful acts PROHIBITED include MAINLY issues of corruption, ineffective /inefficient administration of public offices.
The rakyat that puts public figures in office, meaning the voting rakyat, in turn, have every right in expecting wholesome standards/BEHAVIOUR from their representatives in that one fine day the rakyats children and young will inherit this nation.
So it is not just about they wanting to be judgemental BUT the RAkyat OWES IT TO THEIR CHILDREN GRANDCHILDREN AND THE FUTURE GENERATIONS!!!.
Wilma.

Rocky's Bru said...

I wonder what Mohd Tap Saleh thinks of Dr Chua's former colleagues in Cabinet and the august Dewan Rakyat. Perhaps the Integrity Institute he heads should do a report card on each and every one of those who are supposed to be "whiter than white".

Old Fart said...

"Mohd Tap says that leaders must lead because the citizens have surrendered their rights to the government and leadership to manage and regulate what citizens should and shouldn't do."

Now I did not know that there was any one time that I had surrendered my rights to the government and leadership to manage and regulate!

sesat said...

Nuraina Said:

“What Chua did (to resign) was expected of him. It was not extraordinary. But many people think it was so fantastic (of him). Not really. He had no choice in the matter.”

Very well said indeed! To the bleeding hearts out there, please take note.

Hi&Lo said...

Am beginning to take notice of SESAT. Bleeding hearts are no gain to true liberation of the human spirit cos they defend for the sake of defending, even the indefensible, and call others self-righteous for condemning immoral behaviour.

I also agree with aMiR that moral principles takes precedent over everything else.

If knowledge is power, it can also corrupt in the hands of characters of unsound moral.

suaramalaysia said...

It seems there is a subtle attempt in certain goverment controlled media to portray the recent sexual escapade of the Health Minister as a "private and personal activity".

And the mainstream winds in these newspapers of which the political party owns have gone to great lengths to castigate those who may seem to have dissenting views over the matter.

Was it not Wanita MCA who expressed moral outrage at the suggestion of having china doll maids? Do you recall the smouldering spitting anger and consensus that such maids would "entice" Chinese husbands to become unfaithful and subsequently lead to family break-ups in Chinese homes?

What is utterly suprising is that not a peek squeak was heard from these concerned Wanita MCA of the home when the story of their Health leader's adulterous escapade with a woman surfaced.

Why such selective outrage and moralising? Are we to assume that Wanita MCA or the party as a whole practises "selective" situational ethics of the convenient kind? Are they implying to the youth of our nation that its ok to fool around as long as you don't get caught and make the "party" lose face?

It appears to me that the Health minister in his "confession" is sorry that his escapade was made public rather than sorry for his act in betraying the trust of his wife, family and citizens that elected him to this high office.

He castigates the Malaysian community to being "holier than thou" because they apparently according to his observation, cannot accept his behaviour.

I wonder if the Health minister is aware of the oath he took before he became a member of the MCA and the Parliment. Does integrity and trustworthyness have a bearing in his so called confession?

What are we to conclude concerning his worldview and outlook in this act and in his responsibilty towards his family and country?

Why the media's obession of shifting the attention and blame on those who recorded this act of infidelity? Are their actions more immoral and deplorable than the act that was recorded on dvd?

Political fix up? I doubt it. Seems more like a politician making the best of being exposed with his pants down, down South of the penninsula. Lust, Caution of the Malaysian kind.

What suprises me is this wave of smypathy votes for CSL and it is one Chinese Opera-like sandiwara where those who try so hard to paint this romp of the unfaithful kind with a soft hue that it in turn indirectly reveals their own state of conscience and worldview.

One of your blog visitors asked a very relevant question: "What if it was a women member of Parliment? Would we be still be seeing this sympathetic flood of stand by your man, and he was such a great man chorus? Again, I doubt it.

Among the first to stone her would be these very sympathetic individuals justifying CLS's actions. Among the first women to throw the stone would be YAB Datuk Sharizat. Remember her pathetic silence and support of the Barisan politicians when the sexist remarks and the "bocor" issue was heating up. Well, that's the establishment culture of "hamba" untuk negara dan Barisan policy.


"Tolerance" is a convenient word and political-correctness is not necessarily a Western political phenomena. In Malaysia we have conveniently embraced a communal, racial or should i say race-obessed worldview - a "rice-bowl" system of situational ethics.

Thats why stickers of "anti-rasuah" on police-cars and badges of police-offices have as much value as used chewing gum stuck at the bottom of a town council garbage truck. People and relationships matter. Badges and slogans can not and will not substitute for the integrity and testimony the nation hungers for.

It is one thing to script eloquent excuses for a politician's sexual escapades because he belongs to a particular race, it is another thing altogether to have the courage to call a leader violating the trust of his wife and the community to be a person who has betrayed such trust.

Some can only see through racial-centered lenses and attempt to "soften" the violation when it was their cousin who got caught with their pants down. Then again, there are those who indirectly sanction doing the same and empathize with such politicians because they are convinced that no one trully desires to walk righteously, and that such standards are not worth practising.

In other words, if its one of your kind, just paint a softer hue over the filth. After all, nobody's perfect right? Lets carry that thought further... why not paint it all the way.

Lets lower the standards for our elected representatives, lets not "criminalise" them when they are caught with other crime, lets go all the way down to illegal earnings, down to illegal properties,rapes,racial profiling, demeaning of women, to deals,to electoral rigging.... do you get my drift?

Why discriminate between one crime against another? Why have one standard for elected parlimentarians and another for the common citizen?

Do you subscribe to the notion that an individual could be privately corrupt and publically clean and "productive". That it matters little if a politician is humping women in hotels, as long as he gives us the appropriate licences and does not effect our buisness in any deterimental way?

This is not an issue of a politician's "private" life. It is about integrity. It is about looking at our children as well as our youth straight in their eyes and being truthful when we say that truthfulness and faithfulness is not a matter of convenience.

Being faithful to one's spouse or being whole or trustworthy to the trust citizens have placed on leaders is not an issue of situational ethics. It is about walking the talk even when no one else think it's worth walking anymore.

Fresh water and salt water cannot both come out from the same source. You can't drink from the cup of corruption and at the same time condemn it.

BaitiBadarudin said...

well said, suara malaysia!