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Monday, June 21, 2010

Humanising the Premiership

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?


donplaypuks® said...

It would appear that it's not just the UMNO/BN system of contracting by patronage - the Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves Fraudtrepreneur System - that owes its origins to the Persian tales found in 'One Thousand and One noghts'!!

It would appear that the peripatetic system of Harun Al Rashid is also favoured by the Rosemajibs thoug what Obama, the Sage of Omaha, Warren 'Eat All You Can for $1 Billion' Buffet and others might have to say about this un-modern management style would be very interesting indeed!

And that's precisely why the Rosemajibs will continue to mistake the woods for th etrees!

As for the cat, why I thought 'C4' might be very apt indeed - short, sweet and explosive!!

we are all of 1 race, the Human Race

Leithaisor said...

The cute little innocent kitten is about the best part of the humanising Najib wayang. I don;t think such acts, without real berjiwa rakyat performance, will convionce too many folks. I remain utterly sceptical. Not going to trust Najib wtih anything, not goping to vote for him, UMNO or BN.

There are many name I would like to suggest which are apt and deserving, but in the interest of keeping me, and possibly Suadara Art, from being tangled in a big Sedition Act mess or something similar, I shall keep those choice suggestions as my own private joke.

But drawing upon PM Najib's "caring govt" deal in Sibu (has the RM5m been dispensed for the Rejang Park flood problem work BTW?), I would humbly suggest these two fine names in honor of the "this is not a place for a PM" occasion:



Anonymous said...

hows about 'Copycat"?

C++ said...

Dear Art,

If I were given a permission to add here for the name, I shall suggest the Persian cat to be name "BASTET" to reflect the Persian Feline God.

By the way... err.. how do Rosmah reflect on this matter as Rosmah is a well known "ANUBIS" in ancient Egypt.

luptator45 said...

the first thing that came to my mind when i read the " name the cat " news was, like, " what crap is this ? we have so many problems in hand, and we have this PRIME MINISTER asking the rakyat to name the cat ! Isn't it better for him to name all those culprits involved in the corruption cases, murder cases, vote buying cases, judge buying cases, legalizing gambling case, PKFZ, APs, etc, etc. Well, I can certainly name the WORST PM ever.... "

Dense said...

There is a widespread belief among muslims that whatever you say will be taken on face value... after all it works with impressionable children

Once upon a time Khir Toyo adopted a similar approach, but in his case he was spying on his recalcitrant employees. It was my impression that he was simply out of his depth in his 'real' job and trying to look productive

Anonymous said...

What about naming the kitty "Altan.." No, I better not... unless I want to end up in Kamunting...

What A Lulu said...

humanising the premiership by getting the rakyat to help him name his pussy

Anonymous said...


Why are you so hard on the PM? I live in SS2 and I have been feeling very very safe eversince the PM had his walkabout accompanied by his battalion of PDRM, body guards, PIG, Homo Minister, KPI Minister and scycophants. I feel so safe now that I no longer use the car steering lock and brake & accelerator pedals lock when I park my Proton Waja in my own house car driveway. However I still ensure my drive way gate is double padlocked (just in case) and my main door metal grill and doors are triple locked and the home security alarm system is always switched on whether there are occupants or no occupants at home.

And I am also contemplating not paying my monthly RM60 contribution to the neighbourhood security services since I feel so damned safe now. I thank the PM so much for making SS2 so much safer with his walkabout. I do hope he will do another walkabout next week and every other week from now so that the crime rate in SS2 will continue to reduce. If our PM is unable to "walkabout" SS2 again soon, I will seek the PM's permission to put a life size cut out of the PM outside my house. This will really scare the shit out of any intruder or criminal intending to break into my home.

For the PM new cat's name, he should name it as 1CAT. It's such a simple sweet name and the cat is for all Malaysians and totally in line with his 1Malaysia concept, don't you think agree?.

Donno said...

@What A Lulu

'getting the rakyat to help him name his pussy'

Haha nice one dude! Like Anon2206 said,'Altan..' should be perfect!

Anonymous said...

Love your article...it really hit the right note...