Friday, November 11, 2011

National Feedlot Corporation: Meditation on the Cow

When it comes to leadership, the standard for integrity in office or governance should go beyond quibbles over legality. This is because everyone knows there can be many phenomena which may pass for 'legal' which nevertheless violate or at least compromise the principle of integrity in office. This is usually the case in the issue of cronyism. Usually practitioners are intelligent enough to 'fix' things in such a manner to satisfy legality, yet accommodating of vested or conflicting interests. In Malaysia there are only too many of such examples, which is a major bane for our nation. The basic issue is just where do we fix the standards for integrity in office, good governance or scrupulous leadership? If we just reflect on all our past issues involving fiscal policies, developmental planning or the implementation of mega projects, there is always this problem of 'legal vested interests' costing the public.

We will also note that whenever we have a relatively clean government in the world, it will be one which is prepared to set the standards of integrity in office higher and beyond minimal 'legality', into scruples and old fashioned morality or honesty. We will also note that in any major case of corruption in court, the defence will invariably be that of 'legal though interested',therefore 'not quite corrupt'. That is is why a good government will set its standards at the legal-moral level, stretching the limit of the law towards this end. On the other hand, a less principled government or leadership would instead use the 'legal' argument narrowly as to exclude all considerations of scruples, morality and decency. That is why at the end of the day, morality and decency should guide politics (tempered by the law of course!). Otherwise, many of the issues of 'corruption' or 'cronyism' could be a subject of polemics till the cows come home!

A capable and principled government should reflect serious commitment to weed out corruption and vested interests, regardless of party affiliation or partisanship. Without such resolve, a government would soon be riddled with corruption, for the simple reason that those of its inner circle would feel secure from action, on the understanding that only outsiders risk it. Also, corruption then becomes a sort of privilege for the ruling group. This is far from saying that a change of government necessarily ends this problem. The weakness would continue even with a change of government, as the incoming ruling group would simply avail itself of ' the privilege'. In fact, an opposition would always decry the 'corruption' of ruling group usually because it relishes its 'privelege' and opportunities for corruption. This is why a good government, or one which endeavour to go down in history as one, would combat corruption seriously, taking the bull by its horn! It aims directly for a bull's eye, instead of making excuses and side stepping into many irrelevant issues, or bull...!

An honest and people-oriented government would think of the national good and the interests of the citizens in general.The prime motivation in politics is not personal interests or gains. It doesn't see the nation as a cow to be milked dry. It would endeavour to secure and advance national interests , never to plunder or blunder deliberately for gains, exposing the nation to ruination as would a cow in a china shop!

The very little that I read of the Auditor's-Report, is already too much by way of dubious practices and abuses. It sets me wondering would there by any measure of the proverbial 'heads shall roll', or merely the usual 'let the good times roll'! Holy cow!!

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