Not self-righteous
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Not self-righteous

Why on earth do our MPs need an ethics code? That’s like selling a fridge to an eskimo.

india Updated: Jun 25, 2009 23:02 IST
Hindustan Times

In Ron Howard’s 2008 Oscar-nominated film, Frost/Nixon, ex-American President Richard Nixon, played by Frank Langella, is being grilled by celebrated British TV talkshow host David Frost, played by Michael Sheen. The interview takes a bristly turn when the subject veers to the Watergate scandal. And then comes one of Nixon’s most infamous lines that was uttered and recorded on May 19, 1977: “Well, when the President does it [something illegal], that means that it is not illegal.” Without going into the territory of illegalities in politics, it can finally be safely said that when our Members of Parliament do it [something unethical], that means that it is not unethical.

The government’s rejection of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission’s suggestion for a mandatory code of ethics for ministers pretty much amounts to this kind of observation. And how can one be righteous without being self-righteous? Why, by insisting everyone else — bureaucrats, judges and the media — stick to a code of ethics and be hauled up if they stray from the path, of course.

Why should our honourable MPs, who would rather not have been subjected to security checks in airports, be told to not have conflicts of interest between their public duties and private interests, not to use government resources for political purposes, not ‘ask’ civil servants to act in any biased manner, to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is used carefully? In fact by suggesting such self-evident things, honest, innocent MPs are being injected with dangerous wrong ideas. Why can’t we just leave the dearies alone?

First Published: Jun 25, 2009 23:01 IST