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Ruta Mave: Standing up for what’s right in sports and politics

Monday 27 May 2024 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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Ruta Mave: Standing up for what’s right in sports and politics
Ruta Tangiiau Mave. Photo: CI NEWS

Having a good moral compass in life and standing by ethics that guide you on what is right and wrong is often seen as cutting off your nose to spite your face, writes Ruta Mave.

You may think it is the right thing to do and you may be right, but if no one else really wants to know or cares what is the point? Why battle uphill, making life more difficult when you can go with the flow with no purpose to your decisions in life. Having the right to do something then choosing to do the right thing is what having ethics and morals is like and it is becoming rare.

Ethical behaviour is characterised by honesty, fairness and equity in interpersonal relationships. It respects the dignity, diversity and rights of individuals and groups of people through rules of conduct recognised by an external social system.

Morals are principles relating to right or wrong conduct based on an individual’s own compass of right and wrong. Where ethics are rules that say what is right, morals are when you have the right to choose and you choose to do what is right not just doing what is said to be right.

Ethical and moral codes are supposed to be part of our upbringing of learning to know what is good and bad, right and wrong. However, when adult role models practice ‘do as I say not as I do’ it confuses the child. Then when those who follow the words of the leader not their actions get rewarded while those who do what the leaders do and get into trouble, children will choose the safe and self-rewarding way even if it feels wrong. 

Comments regarding nepotism and cronyism has ignited the thoughts of the public minds. Which means it has hit a nerve or exposed long-held beliefs and people are tired of its existence in their sporting and political environments.

This is the dilemma of when good people see bad things but do nothing, they effectively give the bad things permission to exist.

Last week I retracted factual information from the Australian Commonwealth Games 2018. Although people complained, no one made an official complaint and so it is as if it never happened.

How do we encourage people with good ethics to come forward and speak without fear? You give them a safe and unbiased platform that no one can penetrate, infiltrate or be sold out on, ratted on or bribed for.

That platform exists here in the Cook Islands News. The Letters to the Editor offers the safe haven of the ‘nom de plume’ where you provide your name and address to the editor but they will place your pen name of ‘concerned citizen’ in the print. Trust is needed for this to occur and I can tell you without fail that the editor will protect you and stand by the moral codes of journalism and not release a sources identity, despite high-level pressure.

I was offered this column when I was battling the (former) editor, Jonathan Milne. He held the power to decide but he recognised I was a voice for others so he chose what was morally right, not what was ethically right for him.

Last year, I sent questions for the CISNOC AGM centred around vetting of board members that other sporting and businesses around the world were doing.  For instance, if you have been guilty of, or convicted of a crime or bankrupt, you would not be eligible to apply for a place on the board. 

We want people of good calibre on our boards that we can trust to be ethical and behave in good moral standing and a vetting process helps ensure this.

It was inferred my asking of these questions were personally driven because I was a disgruntled mother after CISNOC did not put forward my son’s application or another athlete, an Olympic qualifier no less, for Olympic scholarships for Paris after representing the Cook Islands at Tokyo.

The reality is my moral code drives me to ask the hard questions others don’t dare mention. It makes me point out the obvious like ‘the emperor is not wearing any clothes’.

I speak up not to cut the nose off my children for spite, it is to face up to and refuse to accept a culture that continues to exist because no one will risk their funding to fight for what is ethically right.

By saying nothing, other deserving athletes will also have their opportunities removed from them because they don’t fit into the CISNOC box. 

CISNOC would not exist without the sport federations, not the other way round. CISNOC’s mandate is to support federations. Twelve sporting federations signed a petition in 2011 challenging them. It is time they re-united to demand better ethical governance of their funding and futures.