‘Kini masa balas budi.’ Oh really?
|Azrul Mohd Khalib works on HIV/AIDS, sex and human rights issues. He is becoming cynical and is in danger of losing his sense of humour and mind. He also runs and is battling an addiction to the "A Song of Ice and Fire" book series. Azrul can be contacted at [email protected]|
AUG 6 — It really is just too much.
When it seems like the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture seems to draw most of its inspiration from the Mao Tse Tung and Stalin school of propaganda, you know that the people working up there at the ministry have lost their way and possibly, their marbles.
It is bad enough that we have pictures of our Dear Prime Minister ranging from postage size to seven-feet high plastered on everything from billboards, cars, trees, the side of trains, sacks of rice, bus stops and Ramadan-related stuff like buka puasa buntings and bubur lambuk. Do we salute, break into song?
The thinking is that when you bombard and saturate the environment with pictures of leaders and slogans and more slogans, it would translate into votes and support for the government. Let me tell you this is “lapuk” thinking.
It may have worked in the ‘60s all the way up to the late ‘80s. But today, Dear Minister of Information, Communication and Culture, let me tell you it just doesn’t work anymore. We are actually fed up with seeing every single media being used as an opportunity to communicate political messages and images.
It is acceptable, understandable and tolerable during election campaign period but not every day over the past few years during which we have been continuously pummelled and forced to endure this non-stop onslaught.
It is bad enough for us to know that this cult of personality is a common trait seen in regimes whose leaders are insecure of their position, afraid of their people and aim to intimidate by literally having their eyes on everyone through their image on every wall, street corner, out house and marketplace.
Where it is not uncommon for the sycophants and cronies surrounding the leader to create an environment where the latter is seemingly loved by all. They use “We love you …” banners, scream their adoration, crowds are rented or provided with other incentives to show up.
When you think about whom else utilises this approach, quite a number of leaders in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America come to mind. Most of these guys were not very nice people. And it wasn’t because they didn’t like their bushy moustaches or had bad fashion sense.
But when it seems like the guy who came up with the lyrics to Janji Ditepati acquired his skills from North Korea’s premier songwriter, and can no longer differentiate between a political propaganda campaign and an Independence Day celebration, you know that the government, or more accurately the leadership of the ministry, has definitely lost touch with the people.
We don’t give a damn whether the melody was plagiarised from an Indonesian gospel hymn but we do give a damn as to what is in the lyrics of the song itself.
National Day celebrations are supposed to be a time when we come together as Malaysians regardless of our political, ideological and partisan differences. That come what may and regardless of how we feel about each other, we remain united as a people who share a common love and commitment to our country — Malaysia. It is not an opportunity for you to hijack and campaign for your re-election. It is a pity that the leadership of the ministry cannot see or understand that point.
This crass, vulgar and nauseating way of demanding payback demeans and devalues the government to the level of a shady character who says “I scratch your back and you scratch mine” Oh wait, I forgot. We seem to be already at that level.
Dear Minister, since you have obviously forgotten, allow us to remind you that the government was elected into office for the purpose of serving the rakyat. It is your job to serve the rakyat and do what’s necessary to improve the quality of life for Malaysians. Isn’t that what why you ran for public office? You are not doing us favours and we are not expected to scratch your back.
By the way, Dear Minister, please do not insult the rakyat’s intelligence. Opposition to this hare-brained so-called “independence day” campaign and outright rejection of the Janji Ditepati song doesn’t mean that we are from the political opposition. The rakyat can think and decide for ourselves, thank you very much.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.