Of Atasi's scrupulous integrity and character wikipedia says:
"amid the confusion and violence that often formed the background of Syrian republican history, he stood out as a man of sound principles dedicated to constitutional methods of government."
He was clearly a devout Muslim, inspired by the example of the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Sami Moubayed's article begins as follows:
In 1936, a senior aid approached Syria's new president Hashem al-Atasi, explaining the presidential budget which had a special clause for "classified activities". This was a special amount allocated by parliament for the president to distribute at will, without presenting receipts, or explaining himself to the legislative branch.
Fuming, Atasi crossed off the amount and angrily snapped, "This is incorrect! A president should not have money to distribute freely without being checked by parliament. It is not his right and it is not his money." The late Syrian leader returned the money untouched - every single year - to the Syrian treasury during his tenure, 1936-1939, 1949-1951 and 1954-1955.
... Then, "classified activities" were relatively simple; they included paying Lebanese newspapers to refrain from criticizing Syria and distributing gifts to certain Arab leaders.
Atasi reasoned that this "classified activity" was being funded by Syrian tax money and that the average Syrian had a right to know where his taxes were being spent. As long as this money was not being used to improve the livelihood of ordinary Syrians, then it was a crime for any leader to spend it on political or clandestine activities.
How many of the current U.S. Presidential Candidates would we expect to follow such an example?
And yet, in a democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people, why should we the people expect anything less?