safe_image22“…and who are faithful to their trusts and to their pledges;

and who stand firm whenever they bear witness;

and who guard their prayers [from all worldly intent].

These it is who in the gardens [of paradise] shall be honoured!

AL – MA’ARIJ ( 32-35)


How would you (re)define integrity?

How would you explain what integrity is to an 8 year old child who speaks and understands English and to an adult who doesn’t?

What are the semantic equivalents of the word (words having the same meaning) in English, Malay, Chinese, Tamil …etc?

Today, the word “integrity” is widely used as in “the man has no integrity”, “UMNO has no integrity”, “we need leaders with integrity”, “political crossovers show a lack of personal integrity”,  “the public service must be imbued with the highest standards of integrity, “Malaysia’s integrity is at stake”…

Indeed there is even a National Integrity Institute to coordinate efforts at ascertaining that integrity is firmly rooted in the nation and its people.  

But what IS integrity?

How do I enlighten my driver Hamzah from Teluk Intan who wonders what the fuss is all about, who says, ” …kami orang kampung tak faham; kami tak kesah; kami sibuk cari makan; orang KL aje yang heboh  pasal integriti, pasal  ini dan itu…” 

Yet it is rural migrants like Hamzah who comprise a high proportion of the urban electorate. Their parents and relatives back home are the majority of the rural electorate. They are the backbone of the Malaysian polity, of the Malay electorate!

And SURPRISE! SURPRISE!  The “enlightened” urban ones like you and me who are defining this and that and making pronouncements about ini dan itu are the minority.

integrity is not the simple concept that we think it is. I see it as a composite concept, developed in the English speaking world out of traditional virtues espoused in Western religions, philosophy and literature.

integrity comprises first and foremost the personal attributes of  honesty and moral uprightness. Among the semantic equivalents/ synonyms in English are good character, decency, fairness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness.

Now the question is – how do we make the concept relevant and meaningful to the majority that define our poilitical parties viz its leaders and members?

NO, NOT JUST UMNO but the whole lot of them – the other BN component parties and the PR!

For integrity is the antithesis of corruption. And the process of eradicating the scourge of corruption has everything to do with the process of educating the people that lead and the rakyat that follow about their religious/ moral obligations in upholding the highest standards of integrity.

For you and me, let’s begin by finding a simple definition/explanation to give to an 8 year old or to our kampung relatives who don’t know English!




1 Response to “”

  1. 1 ocho-onda
    February 3, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    The problem with the modern society we live in is that there are too many preachers who do not practice what they preach !
    And yet,they have the temerity to claim poetic license or moral right to preach and to tell others what is good and what is bad !
    We are all paying the price for the negative effects of development and modernization.
    We have,as a nation, become more educated but more lacking in common sense;achieved more but have become less caring; and richer materially but poorer spiritually.
    In the process,as we make our lives more complicated in a rat race we created,too busy trying to make a better life for ourselves and our loved ones, we experienced the breakdown of our family units – the very foundation that we built our cultures on, as a society.
    We not only have less time for ourselves, we also have no time to raised and to teach our children properly our cultural and religious values,etc.
    Instead, we leave the crucial role to foreign maids,nursery and school teachers to inculcate good values and behaviour in our children !
    It is a pandemic problem facing other societies as well not just ours.It is not just the question of integrity ,moral uprightness,etc.
    Eventually,societies have gradually lost not only their self respect but the respect for others as well ,be it for the authorities,law and order,religion or whatever.
    So, we have to pause to take notice of what we have become and where will be heading, to re-discover ourselves.

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