Intellectual dishonesty

If you tell the truth you don’t have to rely upon a good memory.

Mark Twain, American novelist

Professionals and intellectuals supposedly steer the thinking of lesser mortals in a curious quest for self-esteem. The common man usually looks up to them as they don many hats as agents and actors in the public and private sectors. That’s my premise.

The daily dispensation of endless instructions, information, advice and counsel is usually accepted as the Gospel truth until some discerning soul questions its worth, value, and importantly, its veracity. Everyone then scrambles to find an excuse, reason and purpose veiled as an explanation to justify the ordered and organized chaos.

The German sociologist Max Weber explained the value of academia as the nursery for future intellectual development: “within the confines of the lecture hall, no other virtue exists but plain intellectual integrity”. That is the first principle of those tasked with teaching, defining, tuning, refining and coaching future minds.

Honest and dishonest advice depends on the intentions and agendas of the deliverer(s). Bertrand Russell, the British mathematician, observed: “it seems to me a fundamental dishonesty, and a fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity to hold a belief because you think it’s useful and not because you think it is true”.

The halls of justice need to be constantly treaded upon by those who care only for the popularity and prosperity of intellectual honesty. The walls of justice in courts of law need to be inundated with the reverberating tones of having done the right thing ceteris paribus.

The American writer Ayn Rand warned: “Lying and dishonesty never work; and it is a great human tragedy that people think dishonesty can work for a good motive” — a clarion call to those wielding power and exercising authority to be wary of their actions which invariably gets exposed and expressed as greed and guilt.

Intellectual chaos in the judiciary is rampant in this organ of organised government forced by written law to wear a crown of thorns when locking horns with judicial murder, legal abuse, malfeasance in office, judicial corruption cleverly shielded by judicial immunity.

The 13 Worst Cases Ever Decided by US Supreme Court is well docketed and documented in its pathetic pantheon of intellectual chaos fueled by competing forces of conflict and controversy. Overruling aside, the pain and guilt of these decisions wrought the US Constitution as an enduring document of hope, hype, hubris and hypocrisy.

In Malaysia, a politician’s fate once depended upon the manner the judge specifically chosen came to hear the case starting with refusal of bail; the expunging of evidence given on oath; the preventing of the accused from raising every possible and conceivable defence; compelling the defence to state beforehand what evidence the defence sought to adduce through various witnesses!

The judge was adamant in disallowing witnesses from testifying and the making of rulings as to relevancy without first hearing their testimony. He did the needful and necessary to cite and threaten defence lawyers with contempt proceedings including the sentencing of one of them for three months for contempt while in the exercise of his legal duties to his client.
In 1976, judicial honesty and what was expected of the judiciary was immortalised in the Datuk Harun bin Haji Idris case by the late great Justice Eusoffe Abdoolcader:

“The court stands as an arbiter in holding the balance between individuals and between the state and the individual, and will not have the slightest hesitation to condemn or strike down any statutory shelter for bureaucratic discrimination, any legislative refuge for the exercise of naked arbitrary power in violation of any of the provisions of the Constitution and equally any executive action purported to be made there thereunder.”

In the ultimate analysis, does intellectual honesty really matter when political expediency, secret promises, bizarre agreements, treacherous handshakes and the hijacking of decency and integrity are interlinked in a huge web of conspiracy aimed at keeping the common man in perpetual ignorant vigil?

Voter rights are far more precious than human rights. The former can be tested for potency at the polls, the latter at the cemetery of hope, nambikei, and faith. Sadly, judicial selections and appointments are denied to the voters who have the right to select and elect one parliamentarian constitutionally, but unconscionably, tasked with appointing judges.

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with an average voter whose views and opinions ought to become government policies,” remarked an astute citizen and patriot.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.