At some of time, there is a need to humanise an office, especially when the office houses the seat of power.
Quite often, that office would be a political one. The need to humanise that office arises from the realisation that a political office, and its survival, rest on acceptance by the subjects. And acceptance, to a certain degree, in turn, rests on popularity.
Thus in Malay folklore, we would hear of instances where the Sultan would go "to the ground" disguised as a subject in order to personally find out the feeling on the ground.
Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah (who replaced Sultan Mansur Shah as Melaka's 7th Ruler), for example, was well known for going undercover at night when he heard that the Temenggong (old day equivalent of the present day IGP) was not doing a good job. He caught a thief trying to break into a house and promptly cut his hand and hang the hand on the verandah of the house.
Perhaps that account drew its origin from the many legends of great leaders going undercover in order to get a feel of the people whom they ruled.
Caliph Harun al-Rashid has, for example, often been romanticised in Islamic folklore as a charismatic and fair leader who often disguised himself as a "commoner" who walked the streets of Baghdad at night and chatted with traders and peasants.
During such night sojourn, the Caliph would be told of how the high taxes were taking a toll on the traders and his subjects. Of how the judicial officers were taking bribes. Of how the traders had to pay the police. Of how the people felt that the ruler would never ever come to the streets of Baghdad to feel the sufferings of his subject. Of how the people felt about the Ruler's seeming obsession with nice new palaces, bridges and buildings.
It therefore came as no surprise that our present Prime Minister, Dato' Sri Najib Razak, upon taking the office, would initiate a walkabout around Kuala Lumpur, boarded the LRT and went to Brickfields. After all, Tun Abdullah, before him had almost perfected the art of walkabouts.
It is a show of a fellow human being walking around fellow human beings who happened to be the former's subject. Although of course, the presence of two or three batteries of bodyguards, a platoon of camera-clicking microphone and recorder waving journalists and the usual hangers-on almost turned the walkabouts into some sort of a farce.
If there was a small advice which I would be permitted to give in respect of the walkabout, it would be this. I would say that the Prime Minister should not form any conclusion and make public a factual opinion during or after the walkabout. Because it is near impossible for a Prime Minister - or anyone for that matter - to form an opinion on a factual matter, make a factual finding and announce his conclusion just from having a single walkabout.
There lies the problem with the Prime Minister's conclusion that the people of SS2, Petaling Jaya, were nowadays feeling "safer" after his walkabout in SS2 recently.
That conclusion - made after having walked around SS2 for the first time, perhaps in so many years - was unsubstantiated, devoid of any reasonable merit and unsubstantiated. It is also unfair to those folks in SS2 who do not feel safe in SS2. What would the nation think of them, when the Prime Minister himself has declared that the people in SS2 now feel safer?
Elsewhere, in a country where the people are completely obsessed with celebrities and images - as opposed to the real thing - of goodness, Barrack Obama and his band of public relation officers take the cake.
The need to humanise the office is non the greater for the office of the President of the United State of America. Hence the battle cry "Change." On day one of taking the office, Guantanamo Bay - that ugly sign board of America's neo-colonialism - was quickly announced to be closed within a year.
Other ugly advertisements of America's neo-colonialism, in the form of the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, were slowly deconstructed by an announcements that there will be gradual withdrawal of troops.
But whether all these announcements would be seen to fruition is another thing altogether. In fact, in Obama's case, more money has been asked by his administration for the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, a completely opposite result from the earlier announcements. His complete and utter lame inaction over the recent Israel's atrocities only serves to cement the opinion that Barrack Obama is too good to be true.
The effort to humanise the office of the President came quite early actually. On 5th November 2008, one day after his historic win in the US Presidential election, Obama promised his daughters a "White House" puppy.
Haven't we all known how Americans feel about celebrities? And dogs? Is there a Hollywood movie where the adorable family dog get swallowed by the raging monster which was going rampage and managed to eat two policemen and a street beggar? Or have we ever seen the nice little family Labrador get swept away by the fast flowing red hot lave from the biggest volcanic eruption ever? Not that I remember.
Obama needed to remind the US populace that he is after all a human being. A fellow American. And his family consists of fellow human beings as well. A wife and two young daughters. Not exactly the girls next door but one of "the girls" nevertheless.
What better way than to announce to the wolrd that a puppy was coming. And the whole Americans - and the world - went goo goo ga ga over what breed the puppy would be and what shall be her name? Web sites sprang to ask suggestions for the name of the yet to be identified puppy.
To my mind, the name should have been "PR" or "MediaCircus". Or something like that. But the daughters knew better. They named her "Bo." (which somehow reminds me of Lobo's "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo").
Obama had done it. Humanising his office and perhaps also, himself, by adopting a puppy named Bo.
I think there is of course a general train of thoughts within the corridors of power in Putrajaya that more efforts should be taken to further humanise our top office, thus culminating in this:
Who among us dislike cats? Not many I am sure. Especially when she is Persian.
May I suggest that "Liberty" be the name?