Sex and public office
|Zan Azlee is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media www.fatbidin.com|
JULY 6 — Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll... but many would also say that sex and politics go well together too, as far as scandals go.
Recently, the country has been hot with rumours and accusations made by one politician against another... about the latter’s sexual improprieties. Of course, there hasn’t been any concrete evidence.
But this begs the question, for me at least, of how significant a sin is sex when it comes to politics and public office?
Let’s think about it. When sportsmen and sportswomen do it, the public seems to be okay with it. When actors do it, it seems to be okay too. And we couldn’t be bothered if our neighbours did it (unless if it’s with our spouse!).
Basically, adultery and sex seems to be something that many people see as personal and has nothing to do with a person’s professional career or life.
Take Tiger Woods, for example. He can pay as many prostitutes as he wants, and his wife can throw as many golf clubs at him, but if he is still winning tournaments, then his career is still intact.
So for a politician who has a sex scandal, but is an excellent public administrator, his professional career should not be questioned, right?
Can’t his personal life be separated from his professional life? He may lose the vote with his wife, but as far as the public is concerned, if he’s still doing his job, then there should be no problem.
But this is definitely not the case in reality as the public holds people in office to a much higher moral standard than other people.
Being in Malaysia, that moral standard can be very high as our society is one that is very much conservative, religious and traditional.
But that being said, even the most leftist and liberal voter in the West can’t handle it either when their politicians get involved in sex scandals.
In the United States, politicians — whether they are Democrats or Republicans — have been criticised for their sex lives.
It seems that politicians and leaders in power need to be saints with clean slates and I think that is impossible to achieve because everyone is after all human.
Of course, there is the argument that since these people have chosen to lead such a life, they need to accept that they have to be saints and will be judged by the public.
Some people may even argue that if these politicians can cheat and lie to their wives, what’s stopping them from doing the same to the public.
The Evening Edition programme on BFM discussed this same issue yesterday on air and they invited their listeners to call in and state their opinions (which is what inspired me to write about it).
And one caller mentioned that if a char kuey teow seller is cheating on his wife, who is to say that he isn’t cheating when it comes to the prawns he puts in his cooking?
This is something I definitely agree with. But where do we draw the line and accept people as human beings who have fallacies and weaknesses too?
I do believe that politicians and leaders need to be responsible, transparent and accountable. But they need to be so in the capacity of their jobs.
Their responsibility, transparency and accountability to their family and friends is something separate that I cannot judge as it has nothing to do with me.
As far as I am concerned, I am willing to close an eye when it comes to politicians and leaders as far as their private lives goes.
Anyway, in my opinion, sex is very much the lesser evil when it comes to public office, as compared to sins like corruption and the oppression of the rakyat’s rights.
Look at it this way. I would much rather have a prime minister who has a harem of girlfriends and suffer from mild hepatitis rather than one who swindles the people’s money and stifles their freedom.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.