How a culture of loyalty ethics set us on a perilous path

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We hope that corruption will one day be a thing of the distant past.

If race and religion have to be manipulated in order for certain groups to hold onto power, then the result is inevitable, says K Haridas.

The present situation is a culmination of decades of practising a culture of money power, patronage, gerrymandering, cronyism and corruption. This is not something that has suddenly evolved.

The stark reality is that all the component parties within the Barisan Nasional employ the same strategy. Some of our present leaders have nearly three or more decades of experience in this culture.

What does such a culture do not only to the individual but also to others who are part of the party? Money becomes an attraction and the notion that you get into politics because there is money to be made gains currency.

Is this is not true for all the BN component parties? Consider the undue wealth of some of the former BN party leaders, which gives currency to this perception! In fact, some are even promoted to ceremonial positions after retirement.

Where are the new young outstanding leaders within these parties? Who can thrive when these parties manipulate democratic principles by qualifying those eligible to cast their votes and regularly postponing their own party general elections? What will inspire a young person to join them? Just consider the leadership within Umno, and you can sense the rot that is taking place.

This is further confirmed by the manner in which finances in the country are managed. Recently, we heard of RM100m squandered within the ministry of youth and sports and more millions squandered by the immigration department (as stated in an audit report, which also speaks of gains by syndicates running into billions of ringgit).

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An audit is always on a sample, and if the present sample of probably 10 per cent of all government transactions reveals this, then what would be the total loss if all the various ministries and departments were closely audited? Would our annual leakages run into RM20-30bn annually? What does this say about the culture and discipline of the civil service?

One evaluation of the state of politics today is the reality that Umno has become more powerful at the expense of the other component parties within the coalition. Umno remains the driver and provider, and those component party leaders who won with less than a 500-vote majority have done so because of the support of Umno. This is why these component parties are weak.

The BN as a whole and these parties specifically are not tackling the question as to why they have lost popular support. They are focussing on the negative and bashing the DAP and the other opposition parties.

While the ruling coalition lost the popular vote at the last elections, they have through gerrymandering managed to retain their grip on power. There is an absence of honest critique or an attempt to change.

When a party is motivated purely by race as its agenda, then this is the result. The BN has no great cause to champion except race, and this is divisive. While racemongering can provide votes, it damages the fabric of both national unity and race relations. We have the intentions and the slogans but not the political will power to transcend issues of race.

Our problem is not race but an addiction to greed and power. If race and religion have to be manipulated in order for certain groups to hold onto power, then the result is inevitable.

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The disguised ‘hudud’ bill is a case in point. Jump the queue, hold no discussions and just have it tabled. Well, if the carrot of power and loyalty can dangled before others, then what transpired may not come as no surprise. What is the deal with Pas?

At a time of fasting and reflection, many must wonder how things can continue the way they do. Many recognise the leaders’ hypocrisy but are unable to do much because the majority of ordinary people remain cogs in the wheel that moves.

Take a stand or be a whistleblower, and there is a heavy price to pay. The system is stacked against the honest individual. Speak to some of the certified integrity officers, and they will share their plight.

The system has got so corrupt that even good people are manipulated to give it a shine. It is good that Idris Jala is no more in government. Paul Low continues, and it is people like this who sell us short. They reduce the price of integrity and ethics by glorifying what cannot be glorified, providing a shine without any polish.

One must at a time like this salute the stand taken by individuals like Mustapha Kamil, former group editor of New Straits Times, who has taken a stand in expressing is reservations about the government’s increasingly authoritarian stance towards the media.

With the foreign media reporting scandalous but accurate exposures, the MCMC is used to deal with the local online media. The Business Ethics Institute of Malaysia salutes Mustapha Kamil for the courage of his convictions. He resigned because of his commitment to the ethics of journalism.

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Unfortunately, we have BN Ministers who are accountants and lawyers who close their eyes to the ethics of their professions and instead subscribe to the ethics as practised by our political leaders – which is to close their eyes and ears and be silent to the obvious wrongdoings. ‘Loyalty ethics’ is the name of the game.

Loyalty ethics affects all our institutions of governance – Parliament, the judiciary, the police force or the attorney general’s chambers, to name a few. It is about promotions, privileges, titles and patronage – powerful forces in a feudal society.

A lawyer suggested to me that the law today is only as good as a judge who reads, understands and applies the law. Otherwise, the law is only as good as the judge! If a judge or attorney general puts loyalty to the establishment above all else, then the verdict is anyone’s guess.

Loyalty ethics brings quick rewards. The names of some individuals who were recipients of titles on special occasions highlight the power of patronage.

Some people will even sell their souls. And there are many others who recognise what is wrong but have to suffer in silence because they are unable to pay the price as they need their jobs to survive.

Loyalty ethics breeds a culture that rots from within. The lifestyles of rich and powerful politicians, whether in the mainland or in East Malaysia, have set the nation on a perilous road that does great damage to future generations.

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ronald quay
10 Jun 2016 11.30am

well put, haridas. we are going through a most ridiculous situation. and we all seem so helpless for the moment. what shall we do?