Ethics in politics, a paradox

MUDSLINGING is a common term used to describe the actions of people who defame and slander each other to create contemptible impressions of their opponents in the public and social sphere.

It is common in politics and there is an apt saying that likens politics to a gutter and when we get down into it, the stink is not worth, not even for all the money people get into politics for, mostly.

There are rumours and tell-tales that we are going to the polls "soon" and what soon means is anyone's guess but there are indicators.

When you flip the newspapers or go online hoping to read news that matters, you will be inundated with scandalous and slimy remarks about those who are seen as potential candidates. The allegations and accusations do not concern what is true or otherwise, they even defy reason and all sense of logic. Even a person's birth origin can be contentious. Respect and regard are broken. Chaos rules when politicians decide to use the media in their war of words, childish to the core.

And how is the race relevant when a former national leader will have his name etched in our history, like it or not. We must know the past cannot be altered but the present can be changed for a better future.

I must admit that over the years we have seen how we as human beings are losing our sense of decency, breaking norms and showing disrespect to play the game of politics.

Politics and ethics – an anomalous juxtaposition of two incongruous ideas –these two words don't match any which way or combination you want to use them. But … What if we choose to be just different? What if we decide we are going to rise above others, what if we can break free from being a common politician and decide that being straight will be by design.

Ethics in politics is a matter of will and attitude individuals choose to adopt. If one chooses to be positively different, doing things ethically can take one a long way and will be remembered by the rakyat and one has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

In this context, a Malaysian politician who has since passed on comes to my mind. Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem decided to rise above mediocrity and idiosyncrasies and he has been hailed as a man of clear principles, despite being a politician. Known as a "CM who never sleeps", he stood up for his ideals and decided that he would be a "real leader" of his state and people.

It is said that ethics in politics is more of an art rather than science and politics is a vital human activity which is essential in building societies and communities based on rules, laws and a balance of conflicting interests.

Having said that, we cannot deny that politics is indeed complex and demanding and requires a high level of responsibility from political players as well as people who vote them into office. Generally, there is a high level of mistrust from the netizens for politics and politicians as the latter are often seen as being selfish, corrupt, power-grabbers and seeped in self-interest rather than having the common good of the people at heart and nation building.

All things being unequal it is important for politicians to still change the way they work and behave as trust in and respect for politics are vital for peaceful co-existence of the rakyat and the leaders, otherwise we may be giving room for populist, fascist or dictatorial leadership.

The adage that "politics is a show business for ugly people" should be rewritten when the time comes.