Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Trust of Leadership

The trust of leadership

Ikim Views
By Dr Mohd Sani Badron

Betrayal of trust of leadership, abuse of public funds and having no concern for the welfare of the economically needy renders even one’s religious rituals and profession of faith hypocritical.

ISLAMIC history is rich with traditions and anecdotes which contain sufficient counsel for people of power and holders of authority.

According to al-Ghazali, in his work Nasihat al-Muluk, how effective those traditions are depends on the strength of their faith. If faith is firmly established in the heart of those people of power, then these traditions will be impactful and influential to their behaviour and conduct.

If those religious traditions are not effective, however, this will be because the heart is devoid of faith. Indeed, nothing remains of it except profession of faith with the tongue. In reality, merely talking that one has faith is one thing, but true faith that is receptive to religious counsel on trust and leadership is another thing altogether.

On his administrative experience, al-Ghazali recorded in his work Kimiya al-Sa‘adat, “I do not know what sort of faith really exists in the heart of a Finance Officer who holds the treasury in trust for the people but instead gives the money away only to some (undeserving) individuals. This action is an utmost limit of neglect of God’s commands and un-Muslim conduct.”

In contrast with the notion of sociopolitical leadership as trust is the notion that politics is “who gets what, when, and how”, with all forms of power play, manoeuvring and machinations.

Indeed, there is the Prophet Muhammad’s reminder that there are three signs of a munafiq (hypocrite): “When he speaks, he lies; when he promises, he breaks the promise; and when he is entrusted with something, he betrays that trust, even if he ritually observes canonical fasting, prayers, haj (pilgrimage), umrah (lesser pilgrimage), and asserts that he is a Muslim.”

As the Caliph ‘Umar b. al-Khattab reminded, “Don’t let a man’s humming prayer during the night deceive you. A true man is the one who keeps his trust and returns it to its owner, and from whose tongue and hand Muslims are safe.”

Another prophetic tradition on additional signs of hypocrites is, “When he gets financial opportunity, he acts unfaithfully in taking from the property; when he is commanded in religious matters, he disobeys; and when he encounters challenging situation, he becomes a coward.”

Betrayal of trust of leadership, abuse of public funds and having no concern for the welfare of the economically needy renders even one’s religious rituals and profession of faith hypocritical.

Having political power is an immense trust because if the power is conducted in a just way, it is the vicegerency of God on the earth (khilafatullah fi al-ard). Indeed, it is an objective of Islam to establish an ethical and a just social order.

Having considered all relevant religious texts, al-Ghazali concluded that “there is no act of religious worship greater to God than just governance.”

Prophet Muhammad said: “One day of justice by a just ruler (or leader) is better than the continual worship of sixty years.”

The Prophet declared that “the man most beloved and closest to God is the just leader, and that the man who is most hateful and contemptible in the sight of God is the unjust leader”.

The Prophet once said to his Companions, “The best of leaders are those who like you and whom you like, the worst of leaders are those who hate you and whom you hate, they curse you and you curse them.”

But al-Ghazali warned that if the power is devoid of justice and compassion, it is the vicegerency of Satan.

While countless people have died in the history of mankind, the Quran makes a special mention of the death of individuals like Pharaoh or Korah, because their political and economic injustice means destruction of their right to exist in a socio-historical context.

There is no greater cause of corruption than the injustice of a leader.

On the one hand, there is a tacit undertaking of a leader, defined as “he who has commanding authority or influence” over his subjects.

Leaders must neither neglect nor be ignorant of the rights of their subordinates, but ought rather to be just, righteous and equitable, and act in the best interests of all.

Most importantly, leaders must be able to liberate human capabilities, so that every citizen can participate positively in the system of governance. Governing the Community is indeed a collective responsibility (shura).

Leaders need to remind themselves that the governed possess the right to be governed as free men.

Human beings are governed by consent; even for the minority or dissenting groups, there must be the protection of their rights as long as they act in a peaceful, civil, and legitimate way according to the due process of law within the framework of the basic laws of the community.

What is most important is that a leader ought to prepare his people to contribute through their intelligent and meaningful participation as citizens, in peaceful cooperation.

Leaders must be mindful that for a nation to be prosperous there must be a fair distribution of income as well as a just distribution of power.

Just as there is the human right to security and the right to peace, there is also the right to earn a decent subsistence and the right to a decent livelihood.

If and when gross socio-economic disparities are found at the heart of social discord, a leader must be persuaded that it is imperative to execute specific social reforms for the benefit of the weaker segments within a community, whoever they are.

On the other hand, there is also a tacit undertaking of people to be sincere in manners towards their leaders.

It alludes to the fact that armed rebellion is not the manner preferred. God also forbids mankind from deceiving their leaders through flattery for self-interest.

On the contrary, the sincere conduct refers to being helpful and loyal as far as it is just, and to advise them towards goodness and to enjoin them to be truthful and equitable.
Dr Mohd Sani Badron is Senior Fellow/Director, Centre for Economics and Social Studies.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

BN Admits Complicity In Illegal Practices Constituting Election Offences


May 2, 2013
Comments by Sarawak Headhunter in red as usual.
BN secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor has denied PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim's claims that "dubious" voters from East Malaysia will be flown in chartered flights to the peninsula to vote on Sunday.

Bernama quoted him as saying that the flights were in fact organised and paid for by "friends of BN" to send "registered" voters back to their hometowns to vote.

Whether or not these are "dubious" voters, paid for by "friends of BN", Tengku Adnan's admission of knowledge of these chartered flights shows BN's complicity in various breaches of section 20 of the Election Offences Act.

NONE"There is no substance whatsoever to opposition allegations that passengers were anything other than registered Malaysian voters," he reportedly said.

Let us hear him and UMNo's Legal Advisers try to establish that there is no substance to Sarawak Headhunter's allegations that these acts are illegal practices constituting election offences under the Election Offences Act, and that BN is complicit in these offences.  

Anwar said his party has obtained photographic and documented evidence that 16 chartered flights have been flying to the peninsula everyday from various locations in East Malaysia.

He also claimed that the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) was involved in purported operations to fly in the voters.

According to the national news agency, the PMO officials however denied it. In a brief statement, the spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister's Office denies any involvement in these flights."

Meanwhile, Tengku Adnan also reportedly defended the move, saying that it is normal for political parties and NGOs to encourage voters to return to their polling centres.

He claimed that the opposition had chartered buses to ferry voters back from Singapore, and that pro-electoral reform group Bersih had paid to fly Malaysians back from Shanghai and Hong Kong.

"The opposition is casting doubts about the fairness of the electoral system in a cynical attempt to undermine Malaysia’s democracy.

"It is a calculated campaign to discredit the electoral system ahead of the election. The opposition are preparing an excuse for their likely loss," he was quoted as saying.

At a press conference in Petaling Jaya today, Anwar (right) also said that PKR has obtained a copy of email communications within Malaysian Airlines (MAS) that made a direct reference to the PMO in relation to the chartered flights.

MAS has however denied that it is ferrying phantom voters ahead of the polling day.

"MAS wishes to clarify that all chartered flights in the national carrier’s system are commercial chartered flights," The Star Online quoted it as saying today.
Well, this is what section 20 of the Election Offences Act says (relevant portions highlighted):
Certain expenditure to be illegal practice

20. (1) No payment or contract for payment shall, for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of a candidate at any election, be made—

(a) on account of the conveyance of electors or voters to or from the poll, whether for the hiring of vehicles, vessels or animals of transport of any kind whatsoever, or for railway fares, or otherwise; or

So, "friends of BN" have definitely commited an offence here.
(b) to or with an elector or voter on account of the use of any house, land, building, or premises for the exhibition of any address, bill, or notice, or on account of the exhibition of any address, bill or notice.

(2) Subject to such exception as may be allowed in pursuance of this Act, if any payment or contract for payment is knowingly made in contravention of this section either before, during, or after an election, the person making such payment or contract shall be guilty of an illegal practice, and any person receiving such payment or being a party to any such contract, knowing the same to be in contravention of this section, shall also be guilty of an illegal practice. 

Under this subsection, not only the persons making such payment or contract ("friends of BN") are guilty but the airlines, being the persons receiving such payment or being a party to any such contract are also guilty of an illegal practice. How many counts of illegal practice will there be, if each passenger is taken into account?

It may also be argued that the passengers themselves are parties to the contract, even though they may not have paid for the fare. They would this be guilty too.
(3) A person shall not let, lend, or employ for the purpose of conveyance of electors or voters to and from the poll any vehicle, vessel or animal of transport of any kind whatsoever which he keeps or uses for the purpose of letting out for hire, and if he lets, lends, or employs such vehicle, vessel or animal of transport knowing that it is intended to be used for the conveyance of electors or voters to and from the poll he shall be guilty of an illegal practice.

If somehow the airlines are not caught under subsection (2), they will definitely be caught under subsection (3) above, which is very clear.

(4) A person shall not hire, borrow, or use for the purpose of conveyance of electors or voters to and from the poll any vehicle, vessel or animal of transport of any kind whatsoever which he knows the owner thereof is prohibited by subsection (3) to let, lend, or employ for that purpose, and if he does so he shall be guilty of an illegal practice.

Even if the "friends of BN" make the argument that no payment was made, they cannot escape from subsection (4), which makes it clear that they cannot hire, borrow or use airplanes ("vessels of transport") which the airline owner is prohibited by subsection (30 from letting, lending or employing for the purpose of conveyance of electors or voters.
(5) Nothing in subsection (3) or (4) shall prevent a vehicle, vessel or animal of transport of any kind being let to, or hired, employed, or used by an elector or voter or several electors or voters at their joint cost for the purpose of being conveyed to or from the poll.

This is an exception clause where the airplanes may be let to, or hired, employed, or used by electors or voters at their joint cost. Let's see them scramble to arrange this after the fact and condemn themselves in further complicity.

(6) Notwithstanding anything in the preceding provisions of this section—

(a) where it is the ordinary business of an elector or voter as an advertising agent to exhibit for payment, bills and advertisements, a payment to or contract with such elector or voter, if made in the ordinary course of business, shall not be deemed to be an illegal practice within the meaning of this section;

(b) where electors or voters are unable at an election to reach their polling stations from their place or residence without crossing the sea or a branch or arm thereof or a river, means may be provided for conveying such electors or voters to their polling stations, or to enable them to cross the river in order to reach their polling stations, and the amount of payment for such means of conveyance may be in addition to the maximum amount of expenses allowed by this Act:

This is another exception, with a catch:

Provided always that such means of conveyance shall be made available equally to all such electors or voters who wish to avail themselves thereof.

If BN or the "friends of BN" have not made available equally such means of conveyance (by air & also by bus probably in this case) to all electors or voters, they are still guilty of an offence in each case.

It would be most interesting to see how BN and the "friends of BN" and also the Elections Commission wriggle out of this predicament.

Portions of the opinion given above were made by a lawyer friend and conveyed through Sarawak Headhunter.

Al Tugauw
Sarawak Headhunter