Frankly Speaking: Scoring political points

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on April 13, 2020 - April 19, 2020.
Frankly Speaking: Scoring political points
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These are extraordinarily challenging times. But some of the country’s leaders do not seem to appreciate the gravity of the situation.

Last week, it was the Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad being criticised for proposing a TikTok competition to convince young Malaysians to stay home during the movement control order. TikTok is a social media app for short videos.

The week before, we had the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development’s faux pas — issuing sexist posters on social media. While it may have provided comic relief to Malaysians at this difficult time, the issue is no laughing matter.

It is a well-publicised fact that women and children the world over are subjected to a greater risk of domestic violence during quarantine or lockdown periods. There is almost no escape for them from their abusers. Is asking women to be submissive and coy then the right approach?

Two weeks ago, Minister of Federal Territories Tan Sri Annuar Musa participated in a sanitisation exercise in Kuala Lumpur with photographers in tow. Based on the pictures on social media, they were not practising much social distancing. We also had a minister fully outfitted in a personal protective equipment suit at a sanitisation exercise in Petaling Jaya.

One cannot be blamed for asking whether this was the right time for photo opportunities or even to serve the community by having crowds gather when healthcare workers are hard at work treating Covid-19 patients.

Politicians from both sides have also not failed to take the opportunity to be seen serving their constituents. Many printed their pictures on bags of rice and goody bags.

We know that politicians cannot help but always think about the next election. But is it too much to ask that they put the rakyat’s interest ahead of scoring political points?

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