One of the little things that my late father taught me is to honour obligations. In Confucian pratices, it is called “Xin 信”. It is difficult to translate to English, but the best term may be ” Trust”.
Under this concept, a person must honour his obligations, whether financial , social, family. For example, if you are married, you have to be trustworthy and faithful to your spouce.
If you borrow money, you must make sure to return it on or before the due date.
In the era of Spring and Autumn in Ancient China, about 2000 over years ago, a nobleman Xu visited the king of a small kingdom. He brought along a very famous sword, and the king of the kingdom fell in love with the sword. XU, however, could not give the sword to this king since he had to honour his earlier promise to bring the sword to another place to exhibit it to some of his friends. But secretly in his heart, he made a promise that he would give the king of this small kingdom this sword once he honoured his other obligations.
Some time passed, and Xu had honoured all his other obligations. He now wanted to honour his secret vow to give this sword to the king. However, he learned that the king of that small kingdom had passed away.
Not deterred, Xu made his way across CHina to the small kingdom. In ancient times, there was no jet plane nor cars, and the journey was mainly by horse drawn carriage and was very tough and took many months.
He finally reached the small kingdom and went to the grave to pay his respect to the late king. He also hung the sword over the gravestone of the late king, and offered the sword to the late king , even though it was just a vow inside his heart.
This story illustrates the Confucian value of “xin” or trust.
I told this story because it was reported that our top leader wanted to appoint one of his close aides to sit on the board of our National Oil company. This aide was a graduate from the top university Oxford. You can read the news here.
There is nothing wrong of course to appoint a brilliant young man, except for one point.
This aide may have graduated from Oxford, and may have the best brain of the country, but he had reportedly defaulted on his scholarship obligations some time back , and the scholarship was from none other than this Oil company.
I consider this default a flaw against the universal and confucian value of “xin” or “trust”. When someone has this basic flaw, it will not be advisable to appoint this someone to a position that influences decisions affecting millions of dollars.
You do not want to put a rat in the rice container, so to speak.
Even TDM has written that while
“it was PM’s prerogative as Premier to appoint a man who failed to honour his obligation to Petronas when he was given a scholarship by it”. He went to to say that : “Generally, I would say that it is not a good thing to appoint such a person,”
“A politician in Petronas may have other agenda which may or may not be in keeping with the national interest,” Dr Mahathir said in his comments to The Straits Times.
He added: “I think it is far better if no politician is allowed to interfere with commercial decisions which may not be good for the corporation.” (to quote malaysian insider).
On this count, I think TDM is right. Casting aside his motives of saying these, I must say that he is very correct and I for once agree with him that ‘it is not a good thing to appoint such a person”, bearing in mind that this Oil company belongs to all Malaysians.