I wrote a story about Tony Fernandes, the PR Opportunist: a Costly Lesson in Integrity. I wrote that integrity doesn’t budge. It had over 10,500 views.
I quoted the proverb, “He who holds the ladder is as bad as the thief ”.
However, I took back my harsh criticism when I read about an SCMP article written during the Rise, Asia’s biggest tech conference in 2019, by my media colleague, Fionnuala McHugh: AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes on 2014 crash and mum’s death: ‘the toughest times’ of his life.
The article stated that in his Rise speech, he’d listed the calamities that had befallen AirAsia (“Sars, bird flu, tsunami, terrorism, earthquakes”) but not the crash. Why? “Sometimes there’s somebody in the audience who’s gone through that,” he explains. “The only thing I’m running from – the only thing I deliberately don’t talk about – is the blue plane incident.”
This refers to his unwise decision, during the Malaysian election of May 2018, to paint one of his red planes blue to endorse then prime minister Najib Razak, whom he didn’t even like and who went on to suffer a massive defeat. As lose-lose situations go, it was a humdinger for which Fernandes felt obliged to issue a public apology.
Fernandes groans now, “You don’t know what we had to go through. When you have a gun to your head and you’re an airline you have to … A gun? Not literally a gun. But you have to work with every government … I don’t want to talk about it now.” Later? “Maybe.” He can’t help himself, however, and on he continues: “They control rights, they control airports, they control airlines, they control licences, they control tax.
“What I never told the public is the one billion dollar tax bill shoved on us out of nowhere, suddenly …”
Given the threat of one billion tax bill and more government control, Tony Fernandes let his integrity budge. Integrity is very important to him, but in that situation integrity is not as important as goodwill and harmony with the government who controls many factors that will impact his business, negotiating about the sudden one billion tax bill. Therefore, Tony Fernandes chose staff livelihood as more important than integrity.
Is this a similar scenario with the alleged former Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia Zeti’s husband for allegedly receiving 1MDB funds? Did Zeti or her family felt their lives were threatened if Zeti did not comply from pressure from the highest authority? Was family safety more important than integrity?
Is this a similar scenario with Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar? Were they ordered to kill Altantuya for national security, which was more important to them than integrity.
In the movie Braveheart, in 1305 London, William Wallace was brought before an English magistrate, tried for high treason, and condemned to public torture and beheading. Even whilst being hanged, drawn and quartered, Wallace refused to submit to the king.
The watching crowd, deeply moved by the Scotsman’s valor, begin crying for mercy on Wallace’s behalf. The magistrate offers him one final chance, asking him only to utter the word, “Mercy”, and be granted a quick death. Wallace instead shouts, “Freedom!”, and his cry rings through the square, Longshanks hearing it just before dying. Before being decapitated, Wallace sees a vision of his late wife Murron in the crowd, smiling at him. Therefore, for William Wallace, the principle of freedom was more important than mercy.
Here are some principles that maybe more important than integrity in some situations:
When your life or your family’s life is threatened, when it is not worthwhile, when threatened with bankruptcy, when there are no options, survival, your livelihood, your staff livelihood, cutting the loss earlier, stop wasting precious time and money, low in funds, lying to protect beloved ones, (these are negative principles or values: evil intentions, cover-up, revenge, betrayal, pride, jealousy, rage, greed, addiction, attachment, power politics), compromise, generosity, compassion, mercy, friendship, loyalty, freedom, goodwill, harmony, unity, love, and truth.
Written by: Robren
Robren is the combined presence of the Twin Souls Whisperer Robert and Angel Brenda, the Angel Whisperer who cracked The Angel Code, for 4 Angels to whisper and speak through them.
Published: 9th March 2021.