Thursday, June 11, 2015

The dignity of the office

Salleh Said Keruak

There is such a thing called the dignity of the office. For example, in the military you salute the uniform and not the person. That means the rank of that person is given respect and not that person in his personal capacity.

Simultaneously, the person holding a certain position or rank must also protect the dignity of that position or rank. Basically, you protect the dignity of your office.

And that is why it would have been improper for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to engage in a public debate with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The fact that it was not a scheduled debate but an ‘ambush’ debate -- because initially it was just supposed to be a dialogue with the Prime Minister -- makes it even worse.

A prime Minister should not be invited for a function and then the function is secretly changed to something else without his knowledge or prior agreement. This was what the Prime Minister said in explaining why he did not turn up for last Friday’s dialogue turned debate.

Anyway, today Dr Mahathir said it very clearly. He was not really interested in any explanation regarding 1MDB. Therefore what is the purpose of a dialogue or debate? The only thing Dr Mahathir wants is for Najib to resign and, as Dr Mahathir said, Najib can return as Prime Minister later once 1MDB has been given a clean bill of health.

We all know that is not possible. Once a Prime Minister resigns and hands over to his successor he stays resigned. There is no coming back unless he does so as the de facto Prime Minister and runs the country from behind the scenes.

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