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.