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It’s ‘listen listen listen’ all over again

February 28, 2013

FMT LETTER: From Daniel Teoh, via e-mail

Tourism Minister, Ng Yen Yen, is an intrepid orator. To say that her courage and persistence in braving a hostile crowd is exceptional is an understatement, as evidenced by her recent fiasco in Malacca.

At least Sharifah Zohra Jabeen had the advantage of crowd and panel. Ng Yen Yen had neither, but she pulled a Sharifah on the crowd when she asked them to ‘listen’.

When the crowd made known their disapproval by booing and jeering, she badgered, even nagged, for them to ‘wake up’ and to answer her questions and cries with the much treasured yet elusive ‘yes’.

Regardless of your political sympathies, it should be noted that this debacle is not different from the one in Penang which featured the Malaysian Prime Minister, when the crowd defiantly said ‘no’ thrice to an unsuspecting Najib.

It is probably an amusement for the public, but to see Malaysian Ministers embarrassed in such manner and made a laughing stock in public, is a regretful thing, even if they are from an unsavoury coalition. How are future generations to perceive our very own leaders next time?

The Malacca incident appears to suggest that Ng Yen Yen is a tourist in her own country. It is one thing to not be able to attract crowds of listeners, another to not understand the sentiments at the grassroot level. As a federal minister and a politician, her detachment is both shocking and rueful. It is doubtful if her Cabinet colleagues would have fared better.

Herein lies the problem of most members of the ruling coalition: despite pledging, on numerous occasions, to hear the people out, they have adopted a most patronising and condescending stance when dealing with questions from the rakyat. This has caused a visible disconnection from common folks, all the way down from the Prime Minister’s Office.

After more than five decades of independence, Malaysians yearned to be treated as equal partners, to be heard not as squabbling children, but mature participants in a civlised and democratic society, only to be disappointed time after time. We have been listening a lot. Now we want to be listened to.

When Najib took over power in 2009, he was counted upon to bring much change and liberation reforms this country sorely needs. People were hopeful, but eventually disappointed when most of his Cabinet Ministers turned out to be familiar and unpopular characters, Ng Yen Yen included.

Does it then suggest that Barisan National is a coalition that is losing the hearts and minds of the majority voters? This makes the incoming general elections so electrifying.


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