Don’t be the pot calling kettle black

Thomas Jefferson enunciated the basic principle of public service: “When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.” This sentiment has been expressed by others, too, and over time it has become the familiar principle of  “Public service is a public trust”.

US ethics rule allows a public servant to accept gifts of $20 or less on a single occasion, and not more than $50 per year per source.

A public servant needs to be seen not to be practicing favouritism in his discharge of duties, and receiving gifts may create a perception that he or she may be more inclined to the gift bearers.

A Gift can be a physical item, a special discount not given to others, a free meal, a paid holiday.

As an example, under NASA’s ethics rules on gifts, it is stated that:

The public servant may pay the donor market value for the gift if he or she wants to keep it. If not, he or she may return it. If the gift is perishable, such as food or flowers, it may be shared within his office, donated to charity or destroyed, as long as an ethics official or his supervisor grants approval.

Market value is the retail price or face value that he or she would have to pay to purchase the gift. If he cannot readily determine the retail value of a gift, he may estimate its value by comparing the retail cost of like items of similar quality.

In August 2015, Australian Speaker of the House of Representatives ,  Bronwyn Bishop, resigned  following sustained pressure over her travel expenses following revelation that she had spent more than $5,000 government money in chartering a helicopter from Melbourne to Geelong in November to attend a Liberal Party fundraiser.

in 2002, a German politician, Gregor Gysi, the economics minister in the city-state of Berlin resigned because he was using frequent flyer points accrued from his official travels for a private holiday trip.  Critics argued that frequent flier points earned during official travel should be used only for official trip.

These examples show that in a true democracy practicing CAT (competency, accountability and transparency), leaders and public officials must really be above board.

Malaysians are generally fed up of the corruptions and abuses in BN led government. It is one of the main reasons that many of them voted for the opposition coalition, hoping that the opposition can bring changes in government. So all eyes are actually on those states that are currently run by opposition coalition. These states must show that they are different. Elected  public officials in these states have heavy responsibilities. They must show that they are honest, humble, listen to the ground, and practice what they have preached on CAT. They must show that they are really of a different breed. They should not betray public trust.

Otherwise, it would only give the people an impression that they are just hypocrites, a pot calling the kettle black!

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