‘Daddy’ Muhyiddin lauded for message from the heart

Muhyiddin Yassin addressing the nation on March 18, in a speech where he repeatedly appealed to the public to ‘stay home’. (RTM1 pic)

PETALING JAYA: Communications experts have praised Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin for the casualness of his tone in his televised address to the nation on Wednesday night.

They said his lack of affectation was appealing and was a help in getting across the message that Malaysians should stay indoors until the expiry of the government’s movement control order (MCO).

Mus Chairil Samani of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak said it was clear that Muhyiddin was speaking from his heart, departing from the formal tone he adopted when he announced the order on Monday.

Mus, who has published a book on crisis communications, told FMT he believed most listeners would now appreciate what the MCO required of them.

“The language he used easily explained what the MCO means,” he said. “When speaking to all layers of society, the best way is to use language that’s easy to understand and not formal language.”

Syed Arabi Idid of International Islamic University Malaysia said Muhyiddin’s simple words were persuasive.

“His repeated use of the phrase ‘stay at home’ was very catchy,” he said. “If he didn’t speak in a simple manner, the message might not have gone through.

“The PM has set a good tone. Now it’s all up to the various agencies to implement the MCO.”

Syed Arabi also said the ministers could have been faster in explaining how the MCO would affect the various sectors under their purview after the order was announced.

Malaysians took to social media with a variety of images to help the government’s movement control order.

Muhyiddin, in his second televised address since the start of the MCO this week, repeatedly appealed to the public to stay indoors, after tens of thousands rushed to beat the midnight deadline on March 18.

Even hours before he announced MCO on Monday night, crowds had formed in supermarkets nationwide as people indulged in panic buying, in defiance of calls for social distancing.

“Tolonglah. Stay put where you are. Those in Kuala Lumpur, stay in Kuala Lumpur. Those in Johor Bahru, stay in Johor Bahru. Those in Penang, stay in Penang,” Muhyiddin said in his speech, in which he used the now familiar phrase “Duduk di rumah” for at least four times, while telling people to postpone their kenduris (feasts) planned ahead of the current school break.

“Go back to your hometowns some other time. I am asking for your help, just for this two-week period.”

While many criticised the government for a lack of specifics when announcing the MCO, Malaysians also took to social media with their own video and graphic versions of “Duduk di rumah”, in what is seen as complementing Muhyiddin’s appeal.

Others offered their own interpretation of Muhyiddin’s speech, some finding it to be “fatherly”.

“Why do I feel like it’s a grandpa telling his grandkids how to behave – repeatedly – complete with a pinch of sarcasm (the massive kenduri bit),” said sports journalist Haresh Deol.

“The way Mr Muhyiddin giving his speech tonight, reminds me of my dad marah me sebab tak dengar cakap,” said Twitter user Clarky.

“I think the next daddy is Muhyiddin , he really gives off that daddy vibes when dia suruh duduk rumah,” said Syakiladiliah.

Others said the prime minister was trying hard to be polite when he could have used crude language.

“Muhyiddin basically going ‘tak paham bahasa ke’ when he has to say it in English too,” said Nurarif Fitri.

Another Twitter user rejoined: “Muhyiddin’s speech in summary: Y’all mada****better stay the **** home.”