Say no to mudslinging leaders in BN (Posted on 09.22am Feb 09, 2002 )

My eight-year-old son, reading an English-language newspaper asked me, what ‘sexual immorality’ was, referring to the ongoing verbal salvo and 'washing of dirty linen' between suspended Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) deputy president Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and PBRS president Joseph Kurup.

For a standard three student, his second statement caught me by surprise when he remarked, "Papa, leaders should work hard for Malaysia, not fight against each other. They are all in the same team, are they not?"

His third statement, settled the issue when he said:"It is time grandpa Dr Mahathir sack those who are not doing their duty properly!"

For some strange reason one cannot but wonder why those in positions of power cannot resist the temptation to 'wash dirty linen in public’ every time they decide to fight each other for power, control of political parties or positions.

They do this instead of engaging in pro-active discussions with respected community leaders and party elders, who in some cases, may facilitate reconciliation, while in others, may initiate a trouble free transfer of power, which is truly a reflection of political maturity and a 'duty of care' to the membership.

Sad culture

It is sad that we are beginning to have a culture of political assassinations and smear campaigns that ultimately smears and tarnishes the integrity and image of the Barisan Nasional government.

Those involved in various groups and camps in political conflict seem to forget that every allegation of theirs will be issues that will be collated by individuals and members of the opposition to add to the government's woes come general elections.

Interestingly enough, most allegations revolve around incompetency, corruption, immoral behavior, womanising, carnal knowledge, and of course, ‘repeated official and unofficial marriages’ by those who have made individual decisions to serve the nation.

For the record, we cannot deny the fact that we have had such cases in the past.

Perhaps, the time is right for the BN leadership to limit some political offices to two terms and to implement stricter conditions on the selection process of those aspiring to be state assemblymen, members of Parliament or senators.

There should be a code of ethics to cover these issues for members of BN and immediate efforts taken to initiate disciplinary action against coalition partners engaging in acts or activities that tarnish the image of the government.

After all, they are standing as ‘Barisan Nasional candidates’ and as such, there is a 'duty of care’ to be exercised by leaders of component parties. BN must scrutinise the background of selected candidates instead of just accepting them on ‘face value’.

Disciplinary committee

It is also important that a disciplinary committee be set up to address any such allegations in the BN fold and all such allegations should be directed to the
disciplinary committee (of course, consisting individuals of standing and good conduct from member parties) to address and make decisions instead of the present mudslinging, legal suits and challenges.

It is indeed sad, that some who have decided to lead have failed to lead by example. They have failed to live up to a code of ethics that will truly make us proud that they are our leaders.

It is sincerely hoped that our prime minister will, as part of his contribution to the Malaysian political process, initiate and entrench such a code of practice that will ensure that above one's academic background, ability and political track record, one's moral uprightness will be the deciding factor in selection to political office.

Dr. Jacob George
Subang Jaya
Dr Jacob George is president and legal adviser to the Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam (Cassa) and chairman of the MIC Subang Jaya Town Centre (MICSJTC).

This opinion piece has also been published in Malaysiakini