Sunday, July 17, 2005

Settle it.

One may argue that it is almost impossible to uphold total integrity. In the Gospels, it was written that a woman who was caught in the act of adultery was brought before Jesus by the scribes and the Pharisees; demanding that she who had broken the law of Moses be punished by stoning. Jesus said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”. Having heard that, one by one; they went away.

In a typical modern setting, we still find ourselves numbed and dumbstruck by the fact that none of us could “cast the first stone”, so to speak. In the context of holding integrity and fighting corruption, we have fell short of doing our part in engaging ourselves in a full combat against corruption; regardless of whether we were the parties of corruption or someone whom we knew were.

“There are no bad children, only bad parents”, someone once said. Which is why our first exposure of corruption would probably have been given to us by our parents- who bribed the traffic policemen to get away from having to pay a relatively exorbitant summon, or bribed the school principal to buy their children a spot in a famed school or a position in a club or co-curricular society. Soon, we would begin to act indifferently towards the act of bribery, even be more than willing to pay the extra to avoid the risk of not gaining our driving licenses in our first attempt of our driving tests.

As though to justify our lowly acts, we claimed to be put into forced circumstances that made us commit those acts, pleading on the grounds of having the best intentions for ourselves and the people around us. Suddenly, bribing the land officers in order to get a permit to build a church is fine and we even have the nerve and sense to use a bible verse to back it up- (1 John 3:18 ESV) "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth". (As though its meaning can be conveniently taken out of context or, just as worse; taken to be partially true.

Criticism aside, we ought to turn our attention on how corruption and living in a relative standard of integrity can bring down Society’s morality to its knees. Living in a pluralistic community only hit us harder on our heads that we must not detach ourselves from the rest in the name of “holiness”, thus allowing ourselves to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to our responsibilities in upholding integrity and fighting against corruption in this community. Likewise, in a more exclusive community as that of a university’s, we are called to bear the same responsibilities, and these calls must, nonetheless be even louder, if not just as loud.

Realizing the call to making a difference, a few students of University of Malaya have produced an outline, hitting directly onto the issues of rampant acts of corruption among the key administrative figures in the university and the students-

Issues: 1. Unchallenged authority of the administrative staff, leading to misappropriation of resources in upgrading facilities in the campus.
2: Students’ struggles to conform to the authorities’ demand in appointing members of a political group of their choice, as student representatives; and to conspiracies drawn by the same parties through acts of bribery and threats.
3: Lack of influence by the elite group to the masses through restrictive outflow of information to the media regarding the level of integrity of the authorities.
4: Fear instilled into students to prevent them from raising issues that are deemed ‘sensitive’, especially issues that centre racial prominence.

Priority steps to address the issues
1: Place educationists who act for the common interests of the campus community in key roles of higher learning institutions.
2: Mobilizing individuals in every area and creating public outcries through constant discussion of thoughts among students and the citizens, thus consistently giving healthy pressure to the authorities to act with integrity.
3: Voicing relevant issues regardless of whether it concerns only a specific race or the Nation, cultivating the mindset of bearing the responsibility on the part of the Nation as a whole.

(The 1st Congress on Integrity held in Sunway Convention Centre 16 July 2005 has provided them a meaningful opportunity to address the importance of integrity in campus, of which inspired them to produce this outline)

The few of the university students have spoken. It is in the hope of these students that more would come forward to make this change.

What difference is there between committing an act of corruption and witnessing an act of corruption and keeping silent over it?

We have much to think about.

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