Lack of leadership leaves the people with no choice, but to witness how these leaders conduct themselves as they please
pic by ARIF KARTONO
IT HAS been said that the 14th General Election was a wake-up call for some of our politicians. It can be observed that soon after the polls, some of them embarked on a “rebranding” exercise to appeal more to the public.
Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture), for example, had successfully leveraged the “Bossku” persona and to this date, is still enjoying his popularity, despite his conviction for the SRC International Sdn Bhd scandal.
Some other leaders followed suit.
Those previously surrounded by an entourage of a dozen have shed off or downsized their team and started to adopt a more humble and approachable image in public.
Individuals aside, there have been talks within Umno to improve the party’s image. Ex-Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar has been a proponent of rejuvenating the party’s leadership for quite some time.
In fact, Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said that not only Umno, but Barisan Nasional (BN) itself would have to do some rebranding and restructuring following the historic defeat.
But that was all said in 2018. It only took 22 months for Umno and BN to be given yet another lifeline in federal administration due to the fall of Pakatan Harapan.
The rejuvenation talks seem to gradually disappear and Umno-BN victories in the by-elections since May 2018 seemed to provide some sense of assurance among party leaders that they are still favoured by the people and its grassroots members.
Gradually, Malaysians are also starting to see the return of old practices in the new normal.
We are seeing more politicians on board of government-linked companies (GLCs), with the latest appointment of PAS Youth leader as a director of Bina Darulaman Bhd, a Kedah state GLC.
The government reportedly is also in discussions to reinstate some of the agencies that have been shut down by the previous administration, and one of the possible agencies would be the Special Affairs Department.
Apparently, there is a need for these agencies. The disbandment in 2018 reportedly saved about RM500 million from the government’s coffers, but maybe, the need to have one outweighs the financial costs, who knows?
Nonetheless, stranger things have indeed happened in this new normal. Amid people losing jobs and growing concerns about their financial state, somehow, a minister shared a video of him riding a bicycle for leisure at night with a team of envoys.
It seemed tone-deaf and the online backlash the post had received is a testament to the public’s anger.
The people have yet to forget the issue of a Cabinet member violating the home quarantine order and the latest publicity stunt seemed to push the people’s patience more.
However, of all the blunders we have seen so far, the strangest would be watching two grown men, picking on an 18-year-old girl, simply because she highlighted the predicament of the people in rural areas in getting Internet connectivity.
Accusing Veveonah Mosibin as lying and having ulterior motives behind her video is reprehensible, especially when the core issue — Internet connectivity, or lack of it — remains obvious for the people to see.
Any leader worth his salt would address the issue, pledge to do better and not throw anyone under the bus, including the constituents.
No matter how anyone wants to look at it, the damage is done for the administration, but the effect could be worse on Veveonah.
Apart from her Youtube channel, she does not have enough resources or platform than these two MPs to defend her story. Why these men would pick on someone definitely not of their own size is definitely mind-boggling.
Yet, amid all these, the underlying issue is an apparent lack of leadership from the administration, leaving the people with no choice, but to witness how these leaders conduct themselves as they please. They seem to be back in their deep slumber, while the rest of us are watching.
Azreen Hani is the online news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.