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Feb 14, 2008
Success not built on honesty, truth - is failure

LAST month, the Internet was abuzz debating the legacy of leaders, especially on the view that 'what's a few million dollars lost in excesses' compared to the hundreds of billions they created in assets for their country (or company).

      Closer to home, the old National Kidney Foundation (NKF) saga comes naturally to mind.

      Its former chief executive officer [T. T. Durai] built the NKF into a world-class outfit from scratch. But reports of a $600,000 yearly salary, first-class travel and gold bathroom taps unleashed a public uproar, which ultimately led to his exit from the organisation he developed.

      With thoroughbreds of the ruling People's Action Party's whiter-than-white governing policy, Singaporeans' exacting standards of incorruptibility are only to be expected.

      Hence the intense debate on the realpolitik assessment that leaders with blemished legacy should still be honoured.

      An obvious concern is that such an opinion may become a paradigm which other leaders - be they heading a family or a company - will be wont to emulate.

      For example, a husband could think that, so long as he provides his wife with all the trappings of luxury, 'what's a few extramarital affairs from time to time?'

      Or, the CEO could point to his company's record profits to defend his board of crony appointments and mind-boggling personal bonuses.

      Lawyers defending a wasteful but super-performing leader could also argue that no man is perfect and their client's net benefit to his company was a million times over his misdemeanours.

      Given the power, influence and resources vested in the hands of leaders, can anything but the highest standards of morality and ethics be expected from them - even with the caveat that no man is perfect?

      To paraphrase motivational writer Napoleon Hill: Success that is not built on honesty, truth and justice - is failure.

     Mohamad Rosle Ahmad


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