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COMMENT | Rina Harun and the rise of celebrity politics

COMMENT | Other than being the longest-reigning ruler in the world, Emperor Qianlong’s biggest achievement was marrying Lady Fuca as his wife.

She was unlike any empress in Chinese history: Frugal (wearing flowers on her head instead of expensive jewellery), humble (caring and fair to her servants and consorts), and above all, the kindest empress in Chinese history.

Even after 300 years, there was a legend of Emperor Qianlong’s Lady Fuca stuck in the minds of many.

Once, when Lady Fuca’s servant was helping her prepare ink for writing, the servant asked her what document she was preparing. Lady Fuca said it was the account book for the sale of her palace’s inventory.

“Why are we selling the palace’s inventory?” asked the servant.

“There are many artefacts in the palace that was accumulated over many dynasties. I have asked people to bring them to a public auction. The gold and silver collected from the sale will go to a charity to help homeless orphans,” Lady Fuca replied.

“Shouldn’t these funds come directly from the government’s coffers?” the servant further asked.

The other experienced servant explained: “Empress Fuca proposed for a charity be set up to help the poor in the country, and all shall be paid for by the government. But they said they were tight on budget.

"After a standstill, Empress Fuca took it into her own hands and sold her artefacts, cut down on unnecessary expenses, to set up this charity house. She did it without anyone’s knowledge.

“But a rumour spread that Empress Fuca has amassed the money from the sales proceeds for herself. Empress’ reputation was blemished! Empress was defamed!”

“Helping the poor and needy is a noble thing; why don’t you let people know?” the servant asked the empress.

The empress stood up and walked to the servant.

“As someone who sits at a high position, helping those in need is urgent and necessary. Doing everything in your power to help ought to be expected,” she said.

“If you have done a kind thing and you go around telling people about it, that is not true kindness.”

She finished with a line that came to define her perfect life: “Kindness that desires to be seen is not true kindness.”

I wanted to use Lady Fuca’s story to contrast Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Rina Harun’s Foodpanda video that encapsulates a...

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