Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies

If there is one thing Malaysia is fast becoming good at is the ribbon cutting ceremony. Over here, we do not just stand on ceremony, over here, we live in ceremony. Hardly a day goes by in our newspaper without some politician or other (they all look the same to me) being reported at some miserable pathetic function whose existence is to give these fellas a chance to show how (i) people friendly (ii) close to the 'grassroots' (am hating this word because of its overuse of it here) (iii) current and (iv) important, they are. Our Prime Minister is the Prime Ribbon Cutter and Chief Minister of empty talk and passer of useless advice. Everyday he is in the newspapers telling us what to do, how to live our lives and run our businesses as if he were some model citizen, businessmen and thinker, and that were his job. Let's face it. He was a mediocre civil servant at best. Tun Mahathir was right, Melayu senang lupa.

But for me, the scariest part about these talks to the press after attending the function (if not leaving early altogether) is that sometimes policy is made then. On the spot. Off the cuff. From the hips. Up our arse. Some Minister confronted with the bright lights and microphone suddenly gives his opinion in the evening and the next morning it becomes policy. And after it becomes implemented in its half-assed, half-baked way before grinding to a slow stall until it finally begins to rot both the system and its stakeholders or more accurately, victims. Then it gets so bad that the next Minister gives his opinion on how to solve it. And that is the life-cycle of Malaysian policies.

All these politicians must exercise restraint in the glare of the media. It should be a rule that no policy matters should be discussed at these casual events. That's what they are. Officiating something doesn't simply make it official business. Officiating something is a waste of time and should not be the staple work of government or its politicians. If policy matters are going to be announced it should be at a news conference specifically held to do so and they should be well prepared for any queries reporters or members of the public may have. That is the responsible, accountable and civilized thing to do. That way, more time is given to work out the policies thoroughly before it is implemented instead of being driven by the unrealistic timetable set by politicians who make promises they have no right to do so.

Ribbon cutting ceremonies should be reserved only for the most very special occasions. And having some small time VIP stranger to officiate that occasion does not make it special. It makes it cheap. Why ruin the special moment having to turn the entire occasion around to fete that VIP? And what is worse is politicians spending so much time on these occasions because that is not their job. The more time they spend ribbon cutting the less time they have to do real work for the rakyat. And maybe, just perhaps, I can't be sure, that's what all this ribbon cutting is really all about.

1 comment:

art harun said...

Ribbon cutting eh? How very conservative! Now, in keeping with our push for modernity and developed status, we also have "button pushing" mind you. And of course, while doing that we cannot forget our Melayu-ness. So, after we push the button and the what-have-you surfaces from underneath the stage etc, we will proceed to the gong and whack the bugger a few times too!
Eh, didn't you hear that one new event organiser is going to innovate a bit in whatever even he organises? Yeah man, he's going to incorporate Kris kissing after the button pushing...awesome!