- "to deliver current information and government policies to the society....."
- "to provide public relations services and professional media support to the Ministries/Government Agencies" (translated by me).
Thursday, April 15, 2010
#1 The APCO ruckus
Many things have been said and written about the government's move to engage APCO.
Unfortunately, not much is known about the "services" provided or to be provided by APCO to the Malaysian government. I suppose Malaysians will never get to know the details of APCO's services to the Malaysian government as well as its involvement, if any, in the shaping of policies by the government. I am sure whatever agreement signed between APCO and the government will be classified as an official secret.
However, an online report by Public Affairs Asia of the contract between APCO and the government quoted Paul Stadlen, the Managing Director of APCO's new office in Kuala Lumpur as saying:
“This is a time of opportunities for Malaysia,” said Stadlen. “APCO is delighted to share media expertise and strategic communication services with the Malaysian government and other clients in Malaysia. We are excited about Malaysia’s future and our ability to participate in it.”
Meanwhile, APCO's founder and CEO, Margery Kraus, was quoted as saying:
"(The Malaysian government) "wants to ensure that it is able to provide information to the public quickly and transparently, making use of all relevant new technologies."
“Our team in Kuala Lumpur will include seasoned professionals from many countries, including Malaysia, who are on the cutting edge of new media," she added."
"They will work to assist in strengthening the government’s online and other strategic communication capabilities to speed the delivery of accurate information to the media and public.”
It could therefore be surmised that APCO was engaged to provide public relations services to the government. It is also an image builder for the government. To put it crudely, APCO is the government's spinner, period and full stop.
Everybody in the corporate world will know that a PR machinery is important for branding, marketing, image building and communication exercises. The Malaysian government obviously think so. Hence the APCO contract.
The payment to be made to APCO is also shrouded in mystery. A figure of RM20 million was being thrown about. However, Minister Nazri, in his answer to a question in the Parliament said the figure is actually USD24 million, which is equivalent to RM76 million.
That, by any standard, is a hefty amount for a year of PR services.
Minister Nazri, in a MalaysiaKini report, threw some lights on the nature of APCO's services to the government. The report said:
"He (Minister Nazri) said that the government hired the company to not only improve the government's image but also to "get close to the US."
The hiring of APCO begs many important questions. Firstly, why must a government which professes to put the "people first and performance now" need to hire an image builder? Shouldn't a government which values the people first and put performance above all else let its actions to speak for themselves rather than spend millions of tax payer's money to build its image?
Secondly, is it not an abuse of power for a government to actually spend the country's money for the benefit of the government and not for the benefit of Malaysia as a country? Is it not realised that the good image of the government of Malaysia does not necessarily entail or translate into a good image of Malaysia? Is it even realised that the government of Malaysia is a separate and therefore, different entity from Malaysia as a country?
Thirdly, I wonder whether now all policies are tailored in accordance with the image building exercises or whether the image building exercises are tailored in accordance with the policies? Whatever it may be, there is now a very real possibilities of important policies be influenced by image building exercises. That, in my opinion, does not bode well for a government which values the people first and performance now.
When we have to tailor our policies to the needs of our image, that could only mean that our policies are influenced by or actually made to satisfy the need to be popular and look good. That does not speak much about the people being first and performance being the top priority.
In terms of the provision of communications of government policies to the people and public relations with the people, is it not the duty of the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture ("MICC") to do so? May I quote the Clients Charter of the MICC which I translated from its website:
This begs the question, does the engagement of APCO to provide, among others, "strategic communication services" and "to provide information to the public quickly and transparently, making use of all relevant new technologies" mean that the MICC is too meek in providing such services to the government?
Or is it a case of the MICC not having changed its mode to a more technologically savvy and efficient Ministry so much so that the government has to spend 76 million smackeroons a year to do the very work which the MICC is supposed to do?
If so, I would suggest that the MICC be restructured. May I suggest that the portfolio of Communication and Information be taken out from the MICC leaving the Ministry to only deal with the Culture portfolio ("MoC" for short).
As for trying to get close to the United State, may I ask why? What for? What has changed since Mahathir's rule - where we quite so often thumped our thumb on America's forehead - that we now so much desire to sit in a room with Barrack Obama, Joe Biden, the CIA et al? Isn't America evil? Isn't CIA evil?
Isn't anybody who supports the Jew and Israel evil?
Oh, I forgot. Even Dr Mahathir - despite his seemingly uncontrollable hatred of the US and everything that that country represents - paid millions to Mr Abramoff to get close to the United State.
And to think that now, according to his son, the good Deputy Minister Mukhriz, the people of Hulu Selangor should be thankful to his father.
Welcome to the twilight zone.
#2 Imam Muda
I received a spam text message from Maxis today. It says, "From Astro - join the talent search program for Imam Muda Astro Oasis at Kompleks Pusat Islam KL, 8am-4pm, 17th & 18th April, you may be the Imam Muda who is being searched for!"
Okay. Confession time. I LOATH and HATE reality TV. Of all the reality TV shows, I hate Akademi Fantasia the most. To me, Akademi Fantasia encapsulates everything that is and has gone wrong with the Malaysian society nowadays. And as usual, I blame Dr Mahathir partly, for that!
Here is a TV show, which hides behind the idea of searching for talent, and feed off the gullible and ignorant public and their hunger for glam which selects its winner not based on talent, but on pure idiotic perception, glam, superficial popularity and hype.
This Akademi Fantasia show, to me, is a bloody crime!
And now we have a reality TV show to search for an Imam Muda. Excuse me, but I just want to bleeding laugh freaking loudly! Like TAWDALLY laugh my ass off!
You see, this is the problem with image building and image builders. I wonder whether APCO is also behind this. I hope not. LOL!
What's next I wonder?
May I propose a talent search for PM Muda. Or a talent search called Katak Muda.
#3 Hulu Selangor
While the Pakatan Rakyat has settled down with the nomination of Zaid Ibrahim, I note that the Barisan Nasional is in some kind of disarray in terms of candidacy.
Samy Vellu - the politician who refuses to vanish despite being unwanted by all and sundry but himself, and probably, his wife - wants his appointed successor, Palanivel, to be the candidate. This is common sense. Of course Samy wants to justify the position of his appointed heir to his old and rusty throne (although the exact timing of the succession remains a mystery - some say it might take place in 2012, ie, when the world ends!) by making him an MP.
The problem is, UMNO members in the area seem to prefer a new and younger blood, in the guise of the MIC deputy youth chief, Mugilan. Then there is also Kalimanathan a rank outsider.
But then again, Prime Minister Najib, as Chairman of the Barisan Nasional, may just say UMNO, and not MIC, should field in a candidate this time. I tend to agree with him if he did that. Because the Malays are the majority there.
It is as simple as that. After all, according to the guardian of our democracy, Dr Mahathir (again!!!), the majority should rule. And when the majority rule, everything will be a-okay. Because the majority knows best.
I think, even PERKASA will agree with me on this.
At last, I agree with PERKASA and PERKASA agrees with me.
See. I don't need an image builder to garner my acceptance.