Effective leaders motivate others not by trotting out catchy slogans and the usual platitudes but by what they do — leading by example and transforming words into concrete actions.
In light of the latest allegations concerning Examination Yuan President John Kuan (關中), high-ranking officials in President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government would be well advised to revisit this concept and be mindful of the fact that the rest of the nation’s civil servants look to them to lead by example.
Kuan, president of the Examination Yuan that regulates the nation’s civil service, on Tuesday was accused of receiving massage therapy at a private massage parlor during working hours.
In his initial response, Kuan, noting that his job falls into the category of the “job responsibility system” as opposed to the nine-to-five working hours of lower-level civil servants, argued that he did not violate any regulations. It was not until late on Tuesday evening that Kuan, after realizing his defense drew ire from the opposition and ignited a public furor, offered an apology for not filing a leave of absence form prior to taking time off to receive the massage therapy.
As the saying goes: Better late than never.
If Kuan was to remain adamant in his own defense and refused to apologize, along with the damage to the public’s perception of Kuan’s professional ethics, the government’s image would also be tarnished. The situation would also raise the prospect of declining discipline in the Ma administration.
Many vividly recall a case in April 2009, when according to a local magazine, then-minister without portfolio Chu Yun-peng (朱雲鵬) skipped work to go out on dates during office hours. Chu subsequently apologized and resigned. Then there was the case in September 2006 concerning then-Taipei City Research and Examination Department director Chou Wen-tsai (周韻采), who was discovered to have attended yoga classes during working hours and used a government-owned vehicle for personal transport. Chou also subsequently apologized and resigned.
Who then is to render justice for Chu and Chou, and the many other civil servants who are disciplined for attending to personal affairs during office hours, if Kuan is so easily let off the hook?
Regrettably, the incident concerning Kuan also suggested again how blatantly the nation’s judiciary is applying double standard to politicians from the pan-blue and the pan-green camps.
Back in September 2010, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) of the Democratic Progressive Party was reported to having taken a 20 minute to 30 minute nap at her residence while Typhoon Fanapi left the city under water. The case prompted members of the Control Yuan and prosecutors to launch an investigation into what some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers called “negligence of duty” on the part of Chen and her administration. Some KMT lawmakers at the time also called for Chen to resign.
However, in light of Kuan’s glaring misconduct during working hours, the public have heard no word of condemnation from KMT lawmakers nor acts of initiative taken by the Control Yuan and judicial agencies in probing Kuan.
Ma, who is fond of lecturing government officials about maintaining the highest standards of conduct in their behavior, may lecture them as many times as he likes.
Nothing is more persuasive than having him and his high-ranking officials set a good example, carving out a path for the rest to follow.