Wednesday, January 02, 2008

new year = just another day...

wanna be my 'personal friend'??

unwelcome 2008...

p/s paling aku tabik apek tu, dia cool aje w/pun kena provok mcm2...


Blogger zizie ali said...

apek tu memang super cool. malah tak ada pun dia cakap tak nak ulang lagi perbuatan tu.

1/06/2008 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger spyz said...

ala.. bukan dia reti dosa pahla pun, morally maybe dia taulah..

1/08/2008 05:39:00 AM  
Blogger spyz said...

Leaders must be 'whiter than white'


What standards of conduct do we expect of our leaders? What rights do we have over them? And what are their obligations to us? If anything, events of the past week, where Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek was publicly exposed as having an extra-marital affair, admitted it, apologised and then resigned, have highlighted the fact that modern Malaysian society expects its leaders to have high moral values and be accountable. ANIZA DAMIS speaks to Integrity Institute of Malaysia president Datuk Dr Mohd Tap Salleh about the characteristics of an exemplary leader

Q: What is morality?

A: Aristotle said: two things make an excellent human being: the intellect's ability to listen and learn, and the ethical values within a person. When these two things are combined, then you have human excellence.

This means that you are able to listen to your inner-self, which tells you what is right, and you are able to use your intellect to analyse whether it is correct. When you are able to do this, you are a good human being.

When we talk about morality, we are guided also by what is seen to be the right thing by the general public. If it is that you shouldn't be seen with a woman who is not your wife, and society has prescribed that as an immoral act, then that is immoral.

But at the end of the day, it has got to stem from inside you. The goodness must always come from you -- it's not because the policeman is there that you do the right thing.

An excellent human being doesn't have to wait for somebody to tell him what should or should not be done. You do it because it is the right thing to do. If you are occupying a position of leadership, you have to have certain ethical and moral standards which you cannot compromise.

Tun Musa Hitam has said "a leadership must be something that is totally intolerant of all things that represent corruption".

Q: What gives people the right to expect so much from their leaders?

A: According to law professor Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi, because citizens have already surrendered their rights to the government and leadership to manage and regulate what citizens should and shouldn't do, the leaders must lead.

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. The people themselves might not be very clean, but the leader has to be cleaner than the people. When you occupy that position, you have to satisfy the people's trust in you.

Good leadership is important. Because we, the followers, just follow. So, a leader must do things on our behalf. So, if you do the wrong thing as a leader, we, the people, will follow.

For a leadership to be exemplary in morality, ethics and integrity -- you have to be accountable. To me, if we relate to the recent events that have happened this week, then I think Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek is exemplary in what he has done.

He had done something that is not morally right, and he says he is accountable for it, and he doesn't hang on to his position.

Previously, we have been suffering because some people not only compromised their integrity but also seemed to be discarding their moral duty by denying what they did.

What is most critical in Dr Chua's actions is the fact that he is showing to the leaders, not only in the context of the political leadership, but also government, private sector, and society as a whole, that if you have compromised your position, if you have broken the trust people have in you, then you must willingly go and admit that mistake.

I respect him as an individual. I was slightly disappointed because he didn't resign on the first day. But the fact that he resigned when he knew that his apology was not accepted is very good.

Q: Is there such a thing as private morality and public morality?

A: No. When you talk about morality, it is the same whether it is in public or in private. If you have done something that is not morally right, it doesn't matter whether you are on your own or not -- it's still not right.

When we talk about integrity and accountability, it has got to be total. You cannot say that what you are doing is outside of the public purview. When you are in a leadership role, you have to live by the standards and the code expected by society. There is no argument which says: "My private life is private," because you cannot separate the two.

Q: If you are a leader and you admit to wrongdoing, apologise and step down, have you done more than what is expected of a leader or are you doing nothing less than what is expected of you?

A: There are two sides to this. So often, some leaders, when faced with a situation such as this, do not want to be accountable, or it takes them a long time to be accountable. For me, what Dr Chua did is an example of good accountability in a leader or a person.

As to whether he has done a fantastic act by resigning because that is the moral or right thing to do -- well, what he did is the expected thing.

But because a lot of people who have done a lot of immoral things have not resigned or been accountable, then what he did is really very good.

But from the moral angle, if you are not able to repay the trust of the people, then you've just got to resign. And that's supposed to be the norm -- it's not supposed to be extraordinary.

But, we have to be very mindful of the fact that before we make a judgment, we have to examine from which position we are judging from. As we speak today, we are using the normal judgment in terms of morality. If you cheat on your wife, then it is an immoral act.

Q: There are some people who empathise with him and say, "Well, after all, he's a man ..." Are men morally weaker than women?

A: I don't think so. He happens to be a man; but if it had been a woman minister, it would be the same thing.

When a man and woman do an immoral act, there are two actors -- the man and the woman. So, why assume that it is only the man that is immoral here, whereas the woman is also a participant.

There are some surveys that say that men think of sex 24 hours a day, but it doesn't mean you should be any less responsible.

Q: Are there some things which society shouldn't interfere with? Is it only an issue for him and his family? Do we have a right to condemn it?

A: Yes, we do have a right. We have surrendered some portion of our rights to the leaders, so we expect exemplary behaviour from them.

The saddest thing is that some leaders do not fulfil this trust.

Society has got the right to judge. The individual might have a character and behaviour worse than the leader, but the fact that the person is a normal or private individual means that the expectation to perform up to a certain standard is not there. If you are a leader, you have to expect that.

You cannot have the cake and eat it at the same time.

Q: So, any leader who is literally or figuratively caught with his pants down can't say to people who are judging him that they've got a "holier than thou" attitude?

A: No. You know for a fact that when you become a leader, this is expected of you. And people judge you according to how you behave. You cannot turn around and say: "No, you are worse than me, so don't talk."

Musa said "leadership has to be leadership that asserts itself. It has to be a leadership that means what it says. And it has to be a strong ethical leadership by example".

So, if you say that the public has no right to say that he shouldn't be doing what he's doing, that's not right.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said last year that a leader must lead in order to be followed. This is what leadership by example means.

In the National Integrity Plan, there are nine principles that have to be adhered to, to make sure that we can have a society with integrity. Leadership by example is the first principle.

You cannot say: "I'll do this in my private capacity." You are a leader -- you are entrusted with the responsibility.

Yes, we applaud Dr Chua for resigning; but, to start with, people will say that he shouldn't have done what he has done.

Human beings are fallible. But once you make a mistake, you must answer for it. In the past, some other leaders took a long time to resign or for the court process to be settled. But I hope this will not happen in the future, because Dr Chua has already shown us the right thing to do.

It might be very bitter, very difficult to make the decision, but he is very strong in doing it. That's accountability.

Q: Most ethic codes say a person is not supposed to tarnish the image of the organisation. But this means it is only bad when it comes out in the open. So, if it never comes out in the open, it's okay?

A: No. You tarnish the image of the service when you misuse your position. If a public servant accepts a bribe, the person who gives the bribe will think: "This is the public service of Malaysia."

It doesn't mean just because it doesn't come out, it won't tarnish the image. The Code of Ethics for members of parliament, which was launched by the prime minister in 2004, says: "A member of parliament should always be of integrity, and should display exemplary behaviour."

So, if, for example, you shout in public, then that is not exemplary behaviour. If you flaunt your wealth, that's also not exemplary behaviour.

Q: What are the characteristics of an exemplary leader?

A: A leader has to be honest, accountable, morally upright, trustworthy and responsible. Members of parliament have to have the interests of their constituents at heart, rather than their personal interests.

You are given that responsibility, you have been elected into office, so you must always ask yourself whether whatever decision that you make, is it going to benefit you as a person, or your family, or is it going to benefit the public? The answer must always be "the public".

For instance, if there is a decision to be made to build a bridge, you have to have this integrity check: "Is this bridge going to benefit my family's house or my relatives' house, or is it for the general good of the society?"

If the answer is that it is for the general good of the public, then that is a decision made with integrity. If your family benefits together with the public, then, well and good.

Q: MPs are law-makers. If they break the law, should they resign? For example, in Australia, a member of the federal parliament was caught for drink driving. The very next day, in parliament, the MP apologised to everyone and resigned.

A: In the Code of Ethics for parliamentarians, members of parliament must always show an excellent code of behaviour and character that can be exemplified in a formal or personal capacity.

The prime minister, when he was talking at the National Convention on Integrity in September, cited cases of the Japanese culture.

If a leader or a person in authority has done something wrong, they do the honourable thing -- be accountable -- by committing hara kiri (suicide). In fact, the ceremony itself is very deep in its tradition, where there are people watching, and there are rituals -- just to say, "I'm sorry, I've done something wrong, I'm responsible."

Of course, the PM wasn't saying we should go to that extent here. It would be very good if over here MPs could be as accountable as the one in Australia, but within the context of our parliamentary system, and our culture as it is, it is going to take some time before that level of accountability comes in. That would be the ideal. We wish that it would happen in our society.

Q: Why is it that this doesn't happen in our society?

A: We always try to hide as much as possible. This, again, is culture. We never want to say "I've done it" up-front. You throw rubbish when nobody's looking.

Q: Does that mean that in our culture, truth is only what is seen?

A: Not necessarily.

When we talk about development, it is not only about having skyscrapers and fantastic highways. It is about the intellectual capacity, the moral values that we have that we practise every day.

Quite often, with ministers in the British cabinet, when something is wrong in the ministry, even though the minister is not involved, he or she would resign. Of course, the contrary also happens, like when the chief of the Metropolitan police refused to resign when a Brazilian was killed instead of the suspected terrorist. So, it does happen.

But there seems to be a tradition where they become very accountable. But that has not become a culture here.

Q: When you are in charge of, let's say, a revenue-earning installation that has resulted in 142 accidents in 10 years, and you refuse to remove that revenue-making installation -- what does that say about a leader? Is money more important than life?

A: A lot has been said about, for example, the Jelapang toll plaza, which has cost many lives and still hasn't been moved. In some countries, there would be a resignation as a result of that. But not in this country.

I don't think we lack morality or accountability. But we do not own up to something, that is wrong and it affects the lives of a lot of people. I cannot understand why.

Q: But if you do not own up to something, then you do lack morality and you do lack accountability, don't you?

A: But just like when the bus accident happened where over 20 people died -- the licensing authority that was in charge of the buses should have resigned for giving the licence. But there were so many reasons why the bus was on the road, there was no enforcement, etc -- nobody wanted to take responsibility for it, to be accountable for that thing happening.

I put it down to our culture of not owning up to something that has happened.

The notion of "The buck stops here" is not in our culture -- even when a very glaring mistake has been done.

Q: In Islamic governance, isn't accountability important?

A: Yes. That is part of Islam Hadhari. Prophet Muhammad said: "If you hide even a needle from me when you are given a position of power, on Judgment Day, you will have to bring that needle to account for it." So, accountability is very important in Islam.

But as to the question of why this is not being practised wholly by Malaysians is a good question, but I don't have an answer for it.

That's not part of our style of managing ourselves.

Q: Is there a difference between personal accountability and public accountability?

A: The essence of accountability is discharging one's responsibility at all times, in accordance with established ethical norms, values and laws, and being willing to submit oneself to public scrutiny of every aspect of one's conduct.

So, to me, when we talk about public accountability, it is when we have to submit to the scrutiny of every aspect to the public.

But when we talk about personal responsibility, then we are talking about the established ethics -- whatever the ethics and values you subscribe to. You don't have to subscribe to public values. However, being an excellent person, the values that you have, and the values that the public have, must be one and the same. The two shouldn't be too divergent.

Q: Do you need morality to do a good job?

A: Yes. Otherwise, what would you ground your decisions on? You have to have certain ethical and moral values before you can make the right judgment.

If you are a person of low moral values, then, the decision you make will also reflect that. Your actions will reflect whatever you believe on the inside.

Even in the government service, there are certain standards or morality that are expected. That is why, if you indulge in extra-marital activities, if you are caught, you will be charged under the General Orders, because that morality standard must be observed at all times.

Q: If somebody is doing a good job, but he is proven to be taking part in something immoral in his private life, would it be all right to forgive him his trespasses?

A: But he has already betrayed the public's trust. There will come a time when that person will have to make a decision that is morally-based. Today, you might not be making decisions based on some moral issues. But there will be other times when you are expected to make your decision based on this. So, for a leader, you have to be moral.

You cannot say: "I am doing a good job. I am visiting so many hospitals, my morals don't affect this." But there may come a time when nurses are having affairs in hospital and you have to decide on this.

This is where your judgment will have to be used. And if the leader himself does not have good moral standards, then the decision will be an immoral one.

Whatever you do is going to reflect your inner-self -- that you are willing to compromise on morality. We are not robots -- we cannot switch off. You cannot say: "I am a different person in private from who I am in public."

Q: Now that society has excoriated Dr Chua, at what point should society forgive him, if at all?

A: When a person should be forgiven depends on which perspective you are looking from.

If you are a person who thinks that the matter is not a big deal, if you subscribe to this kind of behaviour, then the people who think along this line would probably have forgiven him already.

But, those who feel they have put their trust in the person, given over their rights to that person, and yet the person did not live up to that expectation, they might never forgive him. So, the forgiveness is easier for some groups, but not for others.

When you talk about integrity, it's total. You cannot say: "I want to be good in 1, 2, 3, but not so good in 4 and 5." Cannot. Integrity is total -- you must be honest, ethical. You cannot say: "I have a lot of this, but a little of that." It's not okay.

Q: Should we, as a society, say, "fine, you can have all these shenanigans, but if you do a good job, we'll accept you"?

A: No.

Q: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". But just because everyone sins, does that mean that no one should cast stones?

A: Since we expect our leaders to manage our well-being, they are supposed to be doing good things on our behalf. So, even though the public may have sinned, it has the right to tell the leader he is not doing the right thing. That person should be leading us towards excellence. If you compromise yourself, then you have to go.

Q: Was the way the affair was exposed moral or immoral?

A: Immoral. You shouldn't take advantage of people's indiscretions. Even though whatever happenned was not right, the way that they did it was wrong.

If you see someone who commits a crime and you keep quiet, then you are not doing the right thing. But, one should personally advise the wrongdoer first. Sometimes, this may not be tenable, so then you should report to the right authorities. If you expect other people to do the right thing, but you yourself are not helping the system, it won't get done.

Q: With the recent scandal in mind, would you advise people who have skeletons in their closet to clear out their closets?

A: To start with, there shouldn't be skeletons in the closet. Those who have skeletons in the closet should have a personal resolve not to add more skeletons to the closet.

To me, if there is taubat (repentance), and if you are not caught with whatever is already in your closet, then that is your good luck. As to whether you need to air those skeletons, that's up to you. You have to ask your conscience whether you need to resolve the issue by telling people, or not.

1/09/2008 11:11:00 AM  

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