Was The Health Minister’s Resignation Justified?

Posted on January 2, 2008

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Earlier today Health Minister and MCA Vice President Chua Soi Lek resigned from his post after he was caught on tape having sex with another woman. His resignation wasn’t a surprise, and neither was his affair. Sad as it is, extra-marital affairs are quite common in this supposedly morally-righteous nation of ours, and politicians are not exempt; in fact they seem to lead the way.

However, is his infidelity a valid cause for resignation? We all agree that people’s personal affairs should be kept in the private domain, yet in this case Chua Soi Lek’s sexual escapades seem to have a bearing on his professional competence as Minister for Health. If he had had sex with a prostitute, and he ignored to use a condom, then it would’ve been understandable for him to resign. After all, we can’t have a Health Minister encouraging unsafe sex now, can we? But is he also obliged to act as a guardian of morality in his capacity as a politician?

In many societies the public has been able to accept that a politician’s sexual deviations, immoral as they may be, do not necessarily reflect their capability in the professional sphere. Bill Clinton may have received oral sex from his intern and lied about it, but he is widely regarded as one of the brightest American presidents, whose leadership continues to be highly sought after. Australian PM Kevin Rudd was enthusiastically elected into office despite being caught visiting a strip club; the Australian electorate understood that the most important criteria for a politician is professional ability, not the degree of fidelity.

In a country like Malaysia, where politicians are looked up as role models, it is understandable that the public feels let down when a politician is exposed as being less-than-perfect. But if this was America, and we had to choose between the born-again Christian, socially-conservative George W. Bush, and the blowjob-loving, alleged sex addict liberal Bill Clinton, we’d gladly choose the latter.