Posts tagged Affair
Malaysia”s “hip” Prime Minister has been going on a social media rampage–his expensive public relations team is telling him that he needs to be cool to win votes from the younger population. And cool means Facebook and Twitter. It is rumoured among online blogs that all prospective candidates from the ruling coalition who aspire to stand for election will be also be “scored” based on their social media savvy-ness (extra points for regularly “twitting” I suppose). But this Chinese New Year, social media was certainly the ang pow that never stopped giving for the politicians of the ruling party. And it seems that the double-edged sword nature of social media is making for a very uncomfortable seat for the ruling party”s “Grandees”.
In what is a classic case of an unfortunate misstep (and what happens potentially when you have non-Malaysians advising you on social media), the Prime Minister decided to launch a social media page targeted at the Chinese populace. On his sino-centric social media page, he opted to identify himself by a Chinese nickname “Ah Jib Gor” (which loosely translates to Najib Big Brother). He did not seem to realise that when someone is called “big brother” in Chinese society, that is usually a reference to triad members or people who have “underground” connections. It’s not a term that is used to denote avuncular respect or a down to earth personality (which presumably is what the PM is going for, since it also features a photograph of him on a bicycle). But the potentially bigger gaffe is that the name “Ah Jib Gor” has previously been used to reference the Prime Minister in this very cleverly done Infernal Affairs YouTube Spoof made in 2011.
(As a side note, Maxis Bhd, as part of their training for their customer relationships team, actually have their staff listen to the recorded audio tapes of furious customers screaming down the phone at frontline staff. There”s nothing like hearing the abuse for yourself to understand what needs to be improved)
“Youths must understand that people are entitled to a difference of opinion and if they are the very people who talk about democracy and freedom of expression, they should not be rubbishing others,” Dr Chua told The Malaysian Insider during an interview at his office last week.
Dr Chua appears to not really understand what is the meaning of being entitled to a difference of opinion. Is he suggesting that only the ruling party is entitled to disagree with the public but the average public is not entitled to disagree with politicians? By far, social media (and the broader Internet) affords the ultimate method of allowing a spectrum of opinions (and thereby, differences of opinions) to exist. If the Prime Minister or Dr Chua want to put up a Facebook page to get people to “Like” them, surely people are entitled to put up a Facebook page to express their “Dislike”? And it is not like Facebook is charging the Prime Minister or Dr Chua more money for their pages (although they may be spending more money). Anyone can set up a Facebook page for free. Anyone can setup a Web page or put up a video on YouTube. For every video a politician (or someone who likes him or works for him) puts up extolling his virtues, someone else is free to do a parody saying otherwise.
This is what is known in basic economics as “a marketplace of ideas”. And in a marketplace of ideas, the best idea wins. Not the most slickly made. Not the most expensive. Not the most eloquent. But the most intellectually and emotionally compelling idea. (at least, so the intelligentsia would hope). It seems to be particularly unwise for a politician to declare the public as being prone to “abusing” politicians when these are the very people he is trying to win votes from. Lest Dr Chua forget, there is no such thing as gratitude in politics. If Dr Chua’s complaint is that the public’s expression of their disagreement is not particularly eloquent (rubbishing–certainly, many unflattering references to his previous “incident” make their way to the comments thread whenever Dr Chua’s comments are reported in the online media, including the very insulting fleeing canine reference), this is quite an unusual expectation.
After all, politicians don”t seem to have problem with ineloquent expression of adoration and support. Likewise, they should not expect the vituperative to be spewed in that manner surely? Why should “I love you” suffice but “I hate you” be deemed rubbishing? Also, surely rubbishing is permitted if the it is in response to “rubbish” ideas or “rubbish” policies or “rubbish statements”? Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander surely? He added that the hallmark of an educated person is one who has the ability to articulate his or her frustrations after listening to both sides. “It is making an informed decision based on the conflicting views presented… an ability to draw our own conclusions. “If you just know how to read and rubbish others, you are merely literate, not educated,” he said.
Well, one could argue that most of Malaysia”s politicians then are “literate” and not “educated” by Dr Chua”s assessment. Dr Chua seems to forget that politicians, in their Machiavellian desire to maintain power, have a vested interest in an uneducated electorate. An uneducated electorate does not question, nor does it discriminate or distinguish. That might explain why the Star devotes a significant quantity of pages in its daily publication to coverage of mundane government events and MCA politicians with hardly any critical commentary or investigative journalism when it comes to the ongoings of the government. Can”t have the electorate “too clever” now can we? Renown science fiction writer Harlan Ellison was once asked his advice to aspiring writers. He famously said “stop writing crap and you”ll sell”. This is perhaps apt advice for Dr Chua and his political cohorts. Stop spouting rubbish and maybe the rubbishing will stop.