Consumerist: Emulate India’s Election Commission Care Taker Role & Code Of Conduct!

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Consumerist: Emulate India’s Election Commission Care Taker Role & Code Of Conduct!

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The Election Commission (EC) in some countries are mere brainless stooges. They confirm it the moment they open their mouths and issue statements sounding like politicians rather than statesmen selected to uphold honor and justice.

They are worse than parasites and simply the political hatchet men specially selected by the powers that be, for their long sustained benevolent and unflinching servitude to their political masters. Some may call them ‘mere running dogs’ but I will not be that vulgar.

But in some countries the ECs do justice to their selection and appointment and to the merits and tenets of democracy. One such is the Indian Election Commission.

I had witnessed them in action not only in the last election in 2011 but also in 2004 and the manner in which they carried out their task was just superb.

Whether you know it or not there is a model code of conduct and its values are universal provided your intentions are noble, ethical and serving the free and fair election module. And the code forbids rule by acts of betrayal, treason and worst fraud. How does this code operate?

As an illustration, in 2004 Deputy Indian Prime Minister L K Advani flew in an Indian Air Force helicopter from Bangalore to Tumkur in Karnataka to address an election meeting?

By the time Advani had completed his speech, the EC had announced the dates for the general election and enforced the Model Code of Conduct for parties and candidates. Advani was thus compelled to send the helicopter back and return to Bangalore by car.

Such is the power of the Model Code of Conduct.

The Election Commission through its Code of Conduct monitors the behavior and actions of the political parties and their candidates in any elections.

1. What is the Model Code of Conduct?

It is a set of guidelines laid down by the Election Commission to govern the conduct of political parties and candidates in the run-up to an election.

2. What is the need for such a code of conduct?

It is intended to provide a level playing field for all political parties, to keep the campaign fair and healthy, avoid clashes and conflicts between parties, and ensure peace and order. Its main aim is to ensure that the ruling party, either at the federal level or at state level, does not misuse its official position to gain an unfair and vulgar advantage in an election. That there will be no institutionalized fraud and worst treason.

3. When does it come into force?

The Model Code of Conduct comes into force the moment an election is announced and remains in force till the results are declared.

In 2000, in India there was a tug of war between the central government and the Election Commission on the Model Code of Conduct.

The government went to the Supreme Court against the Commission’s ruling that the code of conduct comes into force the moment elections are announced. The government insisted it should be enforced only from the date of formal notification of each phase of election.

The Election Commission called an all-party meeting to settle the row. Eventually all parties, including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, agreed unanimously to support its stand on the Model Code of Conduct.

That was democracy, people-power, and statesmanship in action.

4. To whom does the code apply?

It applies to all political parties, their candidates and polling agents, the government in power, and all government employees.

5. So what does the Model Code of Conduct mean for a ruling party?

In 2004 in India’s ministers, including Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, were not allowed to combine their official visits with electioneering work. They also cannot use official/government machinery or personnel for electioneering work.

Public places for holding election rallies and helipads for flights in connection with elections are to be made available to all parties on the same terms and conditions on which they are used by the party in power.

Government institutions and enforcement agencies were expected to play a neutral role and not as active participants for the incumbents as in some countries.

6. Can ministries sanction grants out of the government’s discretionary funds during election time?

No. Ministers and other authorities cannot sanction grants and payments out of discretionary funds from the moment the elections are announced.

7. Can the government run an advertising campaign in the mass media?

Advertisements at the cost of the public exchequer or in some countries using the Ministry of Finance and misuse of official mass media for partisan coverage during an election have to be scrupulously avoided.

8. What are the other guidelines for ministers and other government officials?

Ministers and other government authorities should not announce or promise any financial grants to the people; they should not lay foundation stones for or inaugurate any projects; they should not promise public facilities like roads; and they should not make any ad hoc government appointments.

9. How do candidates and parties campaign when the code of conduct is in force?

Parties can issue their manifesto detailing the programmes they wish to implement if elected to government, the strengths of their leaders, and the failures of parties and leaders opposing them.

They can use slogans to popularize and identify parties and issues, and they can distribute pamphlets and posters to the electorate.

They can hold rallies and meetings where candidates can persuade, cajole and enthuse supporters, and criticize opponents. Candidates can travel the length and breadth of the constituency to try to influence as many potential supporters as possible.

10. Can parties/candidates hold meetings wherever they want?

Yes, but the party or candidate has to inform the local police authorities of the venue and time of any proposed meeting well in advance to enable them to make necessary arrangements for controlling traffic and maintaining order.

11. Can parties call for votes on communal lines?

No. The Model Code of Conduct strictly prohibits parties and candidates from making any appeals to caste or communal feelings, on race, religion, or pitting communities one against another aided by a racist vernacular media as in some countries for securing votes.

Mosques, churches, temples, and other places of worship also cannot be used for election propaganda. No party or candidate can indulge in any activity that may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension among different castes, communities, religious or linguistic groups.

12. Can parties criticize their opponents?

Yes, but the criticism of other political parties should be confined to their policies and programmes, past record and work. Parties and candidates should refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties. Criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortions should be avoided. Worst they should not use third parties to orchestrate all forms of allegations and gutter politicking.

13. What happens if a candidate or party does not obey the Model Code of Conduct?

The Election Commission has warned that any breach will be dealt with sternly. The Commission has the power to disqualify a candidate if s/he refuses to follow the Model Code of Conduct.

I salute the Indian Election Commission again for their commitment to democracy, fair play, accountability, good governance, transparency and zero tolerance for corruption and corrupt practices and not succumbing to direct and indirect attempts by the powers that be to manipulate and taint them.

They are unlike others ‘hunting with the hounds and running with the hares’- milking all the business advantages and perks from the incumbents domestically, then inexplicably they trade the shades in other forums putting on the face of reformers, which is the height of hypocrisy.

One such political Czar, an inhabitant of the shadowy corners where politics and billion ringgit business meet is a case to mention as he glides in this late hour from the dark ages of Malaysian politics making predictions and perhaps hoping against hope that the ‘status quo’ will be retained and he spared culpability for the many misdeeds he is alleged to have his hand in?

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Based on the above criterion, it is obvious that many countries in the world and emerging markets have FAILED MISERABLY!

                           

Consumerist: Corporate Social Responsibility – Going Behind The Veil?

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Consumerist: Corporate Social Responsibility – Going Behind The Veil?

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Malaysian premier, Najib Tun Razak has always emphasized the need for real aggressive corporate and social responsibility by industry players and stakeholders!

Will we heed his call which is the honorable thing to do!

As Malaysia’s leading consumer advocate, with a track record of over 40 years, I cannot but sustain that if a company wants to be credible and effective it must do more than just talk!

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Yes, to be truly effective and credible, companies must adopt various versions of penetrative and real life corporate and social responsibility!

It must be the real thing and not an add-on.

I am only too aware that many stakeholders in Malaysia and industry players only give lip service to CSR!

Many use them as a component or marketing tool and these are not reflected in the company’s processes, mission statements and way of life!

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Will we see in 2016, and with the signing of the TPPA agreements and protocols, more industry playing adopting CSR principles and respecting human rights, fair play and the environment?

Will Malaysian industry players build their operations, end to end committed to the founding principles and tenets of CSR?

To do so, it would mean that a company’s leadership is committed through communication, training, audits, from the highest levels of the governance structure of the company!

It would mean a company’s day to days running is commitment by its support of the CSR benchmarks.

I fully agree that a company is not an NGO. It has it many diversions and limitations.

It cannot address an issue like an NGO!

Its staff cannot function, think, act like an NGO!

Believe me – I know!

Yes as – they have a different vision and mission!

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But to be effective and practicing what they preach, they must have the elements of commitment, framework, and capacity to work with external partners to build alliances and deliver real change which can only be brought by a real entrenched commitment to the high virtues and principles of CSR!

                           

Consumerist: Leaving Your Job – Some Courtesies To Observe!

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Consumerist: Leaving Your Job – Some Courtesies To Observe!

I have always felt that leaving a job is a process filled with questions of professional courtesy: Should you give the one month’s notice and in some cases 3 months?

Do you give a heads up to your superior?

I have always felt if one decides to quit one should do it with dignity and decorum!

The is no need to violate professional etiquette.

I sincerely feel that by tossing aside proper protocol could cost you the respect of colleagues and remove your boss from your reference list.

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It is always better to ensure your exit is a smooth one.
This is what I will do if I am planning to quit and something I shared to 4 colleagues who told me they are quitting soon!

1. Notify your boss or department head in person. I sincerely feel if done it shows respect, self-confidence and that you have strong interpersonal skills.

2. Give plenty of notice. These days employment contract already have exit clauses one month or in very senior cases 3 months!

3. There is no necessity to explain your reason for leaving. Barring a non-compete clause in your contract or a counteroffer situation, you do not have to give the company detailed reasons for your departure.

4. Avoid emotional outbursts. Launching into a tirade against your boss or others who played politics or a Brutus may provide some momentary bliss, but it can haunt you later. Walk away with your head held high!

5. Never leave your employer in a bind. You may be eager to start your new job in say two weeks, but be fair to the company that help you put food on the table. Do the right thing – give ample notice!

6. You want everyone to be a positive reference. Satisfied that your listed reference from the company holds you in high regard!

7. Keep your work mates and colleagues in the loop. Co-workers you have known for years merit a heads up about your decision rather than the sight of an empty desk and days of speculating about what happened to their colleague.

8. Show gratitude toward the most influential. While you may have worked well with everyone, one or two individuals may have been instrumental in helping you achieve success.

Verbally thank them or write a personal note describing how the working relationship positively benefited you!

Most importantly, those who watched your back against the high and perfect storms of work! Show your appreciation!

Even if some of your superiors or others are a bunch of morons and idiots – pen a note that shows your appreciation there too!

By these actions there is no baggage, no ill feeling, no hurts you carry going forward!

Wishing all of you a Blessed Lunar New Year Celebrations 2016!