Archive for December 5th, 2011



Rethinking loyalty,


love and core values


THE Umno president’s speech at the party’s 62nd general assembly has left me pensive as I ponder loyalty and what it means to be loyal.

Loyalty is a bonding born out of love and respect, faith and belief in someone or something we hold dear. We can be loyal to a person or an organisation – our family and friends or the alma mater that have had a major influence in our upbringing and education.

We look up to our elders and superiors, our teachers and role models that we share a special relationship with. The caring employer or corporation that impacts our career development and looks after our welfare deserves our loyalty.

Loyalty is therefore the outcome of a reciprocal relationship that sustains and nurtures the basic human need for a caring social order be it in the family, community or organisation.

For the individual, loyalty evokes an emotional bonding which, like love, guides one’s directions in life. We are prepared to walk that extra mile when we love or when we are loyal to someone or something that sincerely cares for us.

Thus it was in the early days when the Umno leaders roused the spirit of nationalism and inspired loyalty in the teachers, government servants and simple rural folk who comprised the party members.

The battle cry for independence was credible as were the generals who led the brigade. The promise of levelling the country’s deeply pot-holed economic ground was real to a people long neglected by choice or design. The Malays needed Umno to pioneer the new era as much as the party needed their pioneering spirit.

Besides sharing the patriotic zeal with the people, the Umno leaders were down to earth when they tread ground. Their talk of eradicating the poverty, uplifting the economic status and improving the education of the Malays was believable and therefore well received.

Their sincerity in reaching out to the people was unquestioned as they themselves exemplified the virtues of an honest life and selfless service.

There was no great socio-economic disparity then between the Umno leaders and the Malays whose hearts and minds they courted. There was no great divide between luxury and necessity, between what the people got and what their leaders acquired.

The people warmed up to them knowing they too were going home to a simple home and a spartan life. The relationship was grounded in sincerity and mutual respect.

Therefore the new reality that the “orang Umno” must face which the party president talked of should include the emotional and spiritual bonding the “pemimpin Umno” need to seal with their members.

He should add that a reciprocally fulfilling and trustworthy relationship is underpinned by shared core values between leaders and their followers.

It is bizarre to expect the Umno Malays to manifest the once popular values of “clean, efficient, honest” (“bersih, cekap, amanah”) when some of their leaders are not their best examples. The integrity and survival of Umno lie in the integrity of its leaders and members.

Of course one cannot deny that a big part of the new reality is the people’s social mobility and the choices they have.

Malaysia is not alone in experiencing this new multiplicity – multiple ethnicities and communities, multi-layered educational and economic systems, numerous opportunities for work and career advancement, many-tiered levels of communication, complex networks of human rights and civil liberties – all of them promising to make our puny human lives better.

Gone are the days when our working life was devoted to a single employer, be it the government, a corporation or family business; when we were educated and trained by superiors with great knowledge and the highest skills and ethical standards.

Through them we acquired the confidence, security and job satisfaction to give of our best including our utmost loyalty. There was time then to understand the core values of the organisation and put them into practice.

How times have changed and people impatiently surf the net and scour the pages for change when they have not fully grasped the need for it.

How the minds of the young are inundated with information and knowledge they barely comprehend, yet they have to partake of the numerous schemes for innovation and transformation.

How the nation’s pragmatic and materialistic concerns imbue the rakyat’s minds and hearts as they become cut and dry in their dealings.

It is no wonder that we lament the dying spirit of loyalty and even love as we forge ahead in our modern undertakings.

How sad that the “kesetiaan dan kasih sayang orang Umno” which came so naturally in the past has become contrived as the new breed of aspiring businessmen and contractors position themselves to extract the greatest personal benefits from the party.

How unfortunate if the party that upholds the ethnic cause of the Malays so nobly is unable to transform the minds and hearts of its members.

December 2011