Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ethical and Unethical Politicians

Given UMNO’s ‘character assassination' of Zaid Ibrahim, it is of course worth reminding the voters of Hulu Selangor, as several - including Anwar - have done, that here they have a former minister of law who resigned from the UMNO cabinet on account of his disgust at UMNO’s (and BN’s) abuse of the country’s laws to unlawfully suppress free speech.

A recent controversy surrounding Shashi Tharoor, who was a junior minister in India also prompted him to resign his ministerial post in the Congress government. While Shashi Tharoor adamantly denied any wrongdoing or unethical conduct, he resigned so that the cricket-related controversy does not distract from the government’s agenda.

Reading about this case in India reminded me of Zaid’s resignation as minister. It also reminded me of how unusual and uncommon their responses tend to be in politics. These individuals have the integrity and decency to be guided by standards of public conduct and higher principles. It isn’t very often, is it, that we see public figures or politicians acting in the interest of the greater good.

It really didn’t surprise me when Zaid and UMNO/BN parted company. Sometimes good people can become tangled up with very dubious organisations, but eventually they do realise that they don’t belong in such organisations. But how many other former UMNO/BN politicians can you think of who walked away from UMNO because of frustration with the scandals, corruption, nepotism, cronyism, and mismanagement, to name just a few problems, that have plagued UMNO/BN?

Sometimes – albeit not often enough – we come across politicians (Shashi Tharoor) who, despite not having been found guilty of any wrongdoing, resign because they do not want to distract from the public’s genuine agenda. If – only if - there were UMNO/BN politicians who had the integrity to do the same. Given all the UMNO/BN politicians who have been contaminated by scandals, let alone embarrassed, tainted, and humiliated by unethical and suspicious conduct, we would have already seen loads of UMNO/BN politicians exit the political arena. But then that, as we know, is not the nature of UMNO/BN politics. On the contrary, as we see now again with the smear campaign against Zaid, it is actually within UMNO/BN's political make-up to actually practice and reward unethical political behaviour.

Politicians such as Zaid (and Shashi Tharoor) are indeed a refreshingly unique breed, even if they aren’t perfect.

UMNO/BN, on the other hand, is perfect – disgustingly perfect at the practice of vile and dirty politics.

G. Krishnan