Malaysians have now been formally introduced to the world of spin-doctoring. This is a word coined in the 90s and made famous by political leaders in the US and Great Britain engaging in public relation strategies to influence the public. This definition from the Internet:
‘A spin doctor uses ‘spin control’ to emphasise or exaggerate the most positive aspect of something. For example, cigarette companies sell products known to be harmful, which can make them look bad. However, if they also provide funding for charitable events, or build community playgrounds, this can make them look good.
‘Such examples of 'corporate social responsibility' give corporate spin doctors positive aspects of the cigarette company to promote to the public through the media. Some public relations firms list spin-doctoring outright as one of the services they offer, while others use terms such as ‘transformation strategy’ or ‘image transformation.’
Companies and political organisations also need a spin doctor to 'sell' their mission and ideas to the public. For example, when the US Department of Homeland Security, which was created after the events of Sept 11, 2001, was not receiving as much positive public reaction as originally hoped, the same corporate branders behind the FedEx name were hired to revamp the department.
In the last seven years, we have seen much public relations tag lines coming out of the Malaysian government. From the ‘feel good factor’ of the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi administration to Najib’s ‘1Malaysia – People First, Performance Now.’ Image consultants and PR companies are paid millions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money to spin and re-brand the Malaysian government’s policies and plans. There is something wrong with this notion.
Unlike companies who have a product to sell and their image is directly correlated to their performance, governments are in the business of governing. The role of government in broad terms is to ensure a level playing field in their policies and to protect the rights of the minority in a democracy so as to ensure everybody is able to carry out fair trade and business in their country.
When a government engages spin companies like Apco-Worldwide they are saying ‘we need help in serving our own people. We need the Malaysian people to like us’. This is absurd. If the government governs from a point of principle and not politics, they will not need to engage spin doctors.
In fact, the tag lines which we have heard from ‘Malaysia Boleh’ to ‘1Malaysia’ become a point of ridicule especially when expectations are lifted but delivery is poor. The Malaysian people are today more informed and are able to make informed judgements about the performance and the seriousness of the government to ensure there are no leakages, graft, corruption and oppression of minorities and individuals who are a political threat.
This is the politics of old and there is no amount of spin which can blind the eyes of the young urban Malaysians. This is true all over the world as prime ministers of the spin era during the Iraq war were booted out one by one by their own people when it was discovered that the threat of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ was nothing but the work of spin doctors.
Malaysians do not need spin doctors and persecuting the opposition leader for revealing this is adding salt to the wound. Let’s urge our BN members of Parliament by writing to them to stop this nonsense or else face the boot in the next general elections.