I refer to the Malaysiakini report High-voltage insult of TNB lands Namewee in trouble.
Who can forget Namewee? Aka Wee Meng Chee, of the ‘Negarakuku’ fame. The rapper from Muar has condensed in his short music video, a tirade directed at TNB. It is his reaction to the numerous breakdowns and shutdowns experienced in his hometown – and he has put the videoclip on Youtube where it has been viewed several thousand times and elicited an equal number of responses.
He has shown the world, in his two-minute experience at the TNB office, how not to complain and thus get the back-up, of the people whom you wish to help you.
Of equal importance, he has shown the corporate world, especially one that provides a service to the general public, how not to treat your customers and give them the run-around. To a lesser extent, it also reveals to the higher echelons of management, how your staff behave when not in your presence.
People forget that Namewee is a rapper and produces videos and music videos. The content of rap music may glorify violence, misogyny, drug abuse and homophobia, amongst other things. Thus, Namewee may seem to foster the use of profanity and vulgar language. Like it or not, rap or hip hop, is the language of the young these days.
When Namewee’s creative juices were stopped mid-flow by the blackout, he attempted to contact TNB, but after several unsuccessful tries, he thought he might as well pay a visit to the office. He found the whole town in darkness but the TNB office bathed in glorious light. One can only imagine his increased rage.
It is the same feeling that overcomes us when we are lectured by our political masters to save money and thus switch off all unnecessary lights, but find when driving in town at night, that the government offices are the ones with the office lights on (overtime, perhaps?), with the exterior of the building bedecked like a Christmas tree.
Admittedly, Namewee is simply expressing his anger and frustration in creativity and music. There is nothing unusual about this. Many artistes do the same in their songs and music videos. Think Madonna or Eminem.
Sometimes, to shock may even sell more records. There is also a commercial element as well as an entertainment value. He has gained increased publicity for himself. He is enterprising, too.
Namewee was seen gesticulating and uttering sweet FA to the staff of TNB as he made his exit from the office. The manner in which the staff gave him the run around, and accused him of ‘kacau’ might have elicited the same response from me, or worse.
Regretfully, there was not one whisper of an apology from TNB. Nor a hint of regret. Nor was there a reassurance that the breakdown was being dealt with. Nor a plea for the unhappy customer to bear with them, while the problem was being dealt with urgently.
Sometimes, corporations forget that just mentioning the word ‘apology’ might make the sufferer so pleased his complaint is being dealt with, that his initial problem is almost forgotten.
Maybe the frontline TNB staff could be given a crash course in public relations? Treat the customer like royalty and he will forget his woes. Could this be why royalty and those high up in the pecking order of our society have few things to complain about? Maybe this is why the service providers are rewarded with a ‘pingat’. What a pity these service providers forget that a job should be done without fear or favour.
If Namewee cared to do a similar expose on other institutions, he would have a field day. There is Telekom Malaysia, the water companies, some government departments, the police, private companies, etcetera. I should imagine that each of us have one reason or another to gripe about poor service.
But do we have the guts to complain? Probably not. Not many want our forms binned or put at the bottom of the pile. And few of us have the necessary political clout or bottomless purse to expect preferential treatment.
Namewee was wrong to be abusive – even I would balk short at such behaviour. But there is little point in showing an irate customer the planned schedule of shutdowns. What he wants to know is when his problem is going to be resolved.
Namewee speaks for all those who suffered that night. His methods of expressing and registering his complaint may be wrong. Sadly, neither compassion nor empathy was shown by the TNB staff that night.
Those who viewed the Youtube clip may have found it shocking (by his use of coloured language and to a lesser extent, the apparent unconcern of TNB). But what is even more disturbing were the comments left by the viewers. That is the eye-opener.
The reaction to what many normal people would have seen as a disgruntled customer’s tirade against a service provider has been blown into something of a racial firestorm. That is the more potent danger.
It seems that when you scratch beneath the surface, ‘1Malaysia’ is unraveling faster than my knitted jumper. One person condemns a quasi-government organisation, and the so-called defenders of the different faiths react like beasts unleashed, and all for the wrong reasons.
Now the Information, Communications, Culture and Arts Minister Dr Rais Yatim said that the government would examine the music video which poked fun at TNB.
This is a waste of taxpayers money. It is better to find out why there are so many power breakdowns and whilst he is at it, he could also investigate the other claims why other states like Sabah, have more frequent breakdowns than most.
When I first viewed Namewee’s videoclip a fortnight ago, I wondered how long it would take the authorities to haul him up. I also wondered if they would acknowledge the content of his complaint or would prosecute him for the content of his video.
True to expectation, the minister has confirmed my suspicions. What is of lesser importance is the breakdown. But I am surprised a minister in charge of the portfolio of communications took this long to be aware of this video.
I would suggest that he gets off his high horse and find ways and means to make ‘1Malaysia’ truly one, examine ways to gel Malaysians together and with his cabinet counterparts, try and improve facilities and infrastructure in the country.
He should be glad that there are not more of us who are like Namewee when making a stand. This young man may have been more foolish than courageous, possibly even mildly entertaining when making his complaint, but if we were all to react to poor service like he has, would we all be prosecuted? More holding cells would then have to be built.
Sometimes it is best to remember that age-old adage, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.’ And it certainly does not help by shooting the messenger.