Sin Chew Daily
March 6, 2016
By Lynda Lim
The Power of Ethical Leadership
Malaysians are living in a demanding time. We are called upon to be a light in the culture of impunity. 2015 is the year that saw citizens grappling with the realities in confronting the culture of impunity. An area which attracts considerable public discussion is the grand corruption at the highest level. Fundamental elements have lost the importance they seemed to have had at an earlier period i.e. “Bersih , Cekap, Amanah”.
Notable is the citizen’s appetite for a cleaner government. This has led to the emergence of social movements and a more effective civil society structures established. Citizens have also witnessed rejections of the need for such a change, along with the warning of the negatives, that can be associated with prohibition of any criticism directed towards the state, leaders, greater censorship on the use on social media and engagement with foreign media.
The scandal of the grand corruption has urged citizens to plead for respect for the rule of law, transparency, open government and participatory democracy. The processes in which Malaysia has experienced led many to speak on the freedom of conscience-the freedom of every citizen’s right to seek what is true, noble and discard what is false and less noble.
It is in this context that the power of ethical leadership becomes so important. It gives us an insight as to what the power of leadership is meant to be. It is too often forgotten that the purpose of power is to serve and to empower citizens. By undertaking that, it is important for leaders to understand that power exists for humanity instead of humanity existing for power. Leaders often get grated into powers and often become what they do not want to be. They may lose part of their humanity to become what the powers dictate. The institutional structure also defines who they are and the decision that they make. The people whose decisions are dictated by powers do not see that their power exists for the sake of serving people. Instead they believe what is good for the power is good for humanity.
Leaders are responsible for having the law empower and not to tyrannise the citizens. Sometimes, power denies citizens their basic rights that God established the power for duty bearers to provide. The power of an ethical leadership must defend those who act righteously; must protect the weak, poor, the trodden and to defend the marginalised. It is to enable citizens to act justly. The court is to render justice.
The major challenges to which the leaders of Malaysia must respond will come therefore from the demands to allow themselves and the citizens to exercise the freedom of conscience. This will include the rejection of falsehoods, repentance for wrong doing and acceptance of higher moral norms. Continuing in the line of Nelson Mandela, “ For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances one’s freedom for others”.
Citizens are curious and anxious trying to understand the direction that politics are going to take; and where is Malaysia headed to. This cry might well have seemed muted back then but today it is loud and clear, increasing in volume and intensity. All this creates a new challenge for leaders who are trying to draw inspiration for their lives.. To be real, inner personal transformation is the pre-requisite for an ethical leadership. Questions surrounding the future of Malaysia will undoubtedly continue but for leaders, Lest we forget “Buy the truth and sell it not”.
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