Of public relations, branding and public image…
Perhimpunan BERNAMA

These days, politicians seem to be a little more relaxed. The problem is, they seem rather ill-advised about how they should behave in public and what to refrain from saying

pic by BERNAMA

IT WAS a day before the main event and the organiser was scrambling to get everything right.

Earlier was a dry run with all personnel on deck to ensure that nothing would turn out wrong on the actual day.

The Negaraku video was played several times to ensure that it was the right version, while the master of ceremony was seen working on his cue cards, so that he would not get any VIP names mixed up.

You see, there’s a huge difference between Yang Amat Berhormat, Yang Berhormat, Yang Amat Berbahagia and Yang Berbahagia.

If you happen to have only Yang Berusaha before your name, be rest assured that you are “not there yet”.

The contractors were still trying their best to complete the main stage and backdrop — a giant LED screen that might have cost a fortune to instal, while the sound engineers kept testing the level of the sound that could reach the entire hall, as various types of music were blared intermittently according to the request of the client.

Let’s see…there is a specific song for the arrival of the main guest, and another song for his walk to the podium before he delivered his speech.

Then, there would be the launch gimmick, which included some festive tunes along with some effects on stage (confetti and all), that would be activated when the main VIP pressed a certain button on stage.

Suddenly, all the flurry of activities were halted. A young lady walked in with her entourage of equally youthful looking team, and immediately all eyes were on her as she started barking some instructions.

The organisers, contractors and personnel involved in the various processes that would take place at the event were seen nodding to everything that she said.

Apparently, she was the special officer of the big gun who was the guest of honour for the event.

Her orders (not request) were specific according to the “choreography” she might have worked earlier after a quick survey of the hall.

Among others, she told the organisers that the VIP must be led through the booths, before stopping at certain points for “photo opportunities”.

“When he reached this area, make sure that he is surrounded by ordinary people from all walks of life and ages. Allow them to take photos with him. Make sure that there are no other politicians around him,” she said.

The walk continued right to the VIP seats where even the other dignitaries that were to sit around the main guest were selected and approved by the team.

Then, there was a short meeting with the chef, who tried his best to convince the powerful lady that the VVIP liked certain dishes.

“No, chef. I am the special officer in charge of this event. The boss must eat with the people. He will sit with them and serve them, too. Whatever they eat, he eats. There’s no need for any special menu,” she said.

Apparently, it was shared among the personnel later, that the whole “choreography” was part of an exercise to portray the politician as a people’s person.

There were quite a number of amusing instructions that the whole thing looked more like a well-scripted production, for the sake of a politician’s image. It was also rather amusing to watch a millennial barking orders as the older subjects who were supposed to make the whole scene work had no choice but to pander to her bidding.

After all, if anyone said no, they might have to answer to her bigger boss. No one would be crazy enough to risk it.

The following day, as the actual event unfolded, everything went as planned, with the climax being the VVIP taking pictures with the people who were seen to be very appreciative and happy.

The picture later made it to the newspapers and the politician might have scored some points with his followers (or perhaps his future voters).

Anyway, this was a scene that was observed during the glory days of the previous administration. Quite a lot has changed since.

The politician, the powerful lady and the entourage are no longer in the picture. All the efforts seem to be rather futile.

These days, politicians seem to be a little more relaxed. The problem is, they seem rather ill-advised about how they should behave in public and what they should refrain from saying.

On a daily basis, the people would be entertained by statements (or misquotes — as the politicians would later clarify) that would be spewed without any censor.

For instance, an MP nonchalantly confessed that most politicians could not last long in the August house as it was too cold and that they were rather tired. Another minister hit the headline after he allegedly hurled verbal abuses to photographers and members of the media as they tried to take his pictures as part of their assignment.

Then, there was another minister who was seen playing hard to get with the press as he uttered nonsensical remarks about the questions they earlier posed to him.

Most of these incidents were caught on camera and became juicy fodder for the Internet savvy citizens. At the end of the day, no one could now be taken seriously.

Perhaps that “powerful lady” could step in and offer her services to the newer politicians, and hopefully help them realise that they need to be media savvy and people- friendly to be able to stay afloat, at least until after the next election. But then again, not many might be able to afford her fees…

Zainal Alam Kadir is the executive editor of The Malaysian Reserve.