Najib should be the first to undergo mandatory media training to prevent gaffes like the “kangkung” hullaballoo which has highlighted the “feet of clay” of the Najib administration

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is reported to have directed mandatory media training for his ministers to prevent missteps that have made his administration a laughing stock among Malaysians.

Najib’s second term has been marked by “foolish” remarks from several ministers that spawned Internet memes and jokes detrimental to Putrajaya’s image.

The Malaysian Insider’s report today “To avoid more gaffes, ministers to learn to speak sensibly” quoted a source that Najib wants his ministers to undergo media training to avoid repeatedly delivering “foolish remarks”.

Specifically cited as examples of Ministerial bloopers which have spoilt Putrajaya’s image were those by the Minister for Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Datuk Seri Hasan Malek who wanted the people to be thankful for having “sincere” leaders who “prioritise people’s needs above all else” in response to the people’s unhappiness at subsidy cuts and price hikes and the Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor who made insensitive responses to the complaints of property owners in Kuala Lumpur to the hike in assessment rates.

“You want me to revaluate your property at 0.1% for 21 years? It does not matter to me… up to you.” He had admonished the media over the issue, telling them: “I don’t know why people like to spin this issue out of control. You should tell the rakyat that this is good for them,” Adnan had said.

Putrajaya’s economic czar, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar is also remembered for his advice to the people a few months ago to stop eating chicken if the prices were too high and to use alternative roads if they did not want to pay toll on highways, when he spoke of impending hike in toll rates.

Even the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is not spared from being guilty of such follies committing bloopers which make him and the government a laughing stock.

Muhyiddin was in London last week to attend the Education World Forum 2014 – the largest gathering of nearly a hundred education and skills ministers in the world.

Muhyiddin, who probably lead the ministers as the most unskilled education ministers in the world, said in his speech at the EWF 2014 that education should produce a “global citizen” mentality.

Imagine such a speech from a person who does not even have a “Malaysian citizen” mentality – as testified by his boastful declaration in 2010 that he is “Malay first, Malaysian second” in rejecting Najib’s 1Malaysia signature policy!

But these are child’s play compared to the biggest blooper of all of the Najib administration – the “kangkung” hullaballoo which has also highlighted the “feet of clay” of the Najib premiership: clueless, rudderless and leaderless at a great moment of test for any government with the country facing a quintuplet of nation-building, economic, educational, security and anti-corruption crisis never before experienced by the country in her 57-year history.

But horror of horrors, the person who committed the biggest blooper in triggering the “kangkung” hallaballoo is none other than the Prime Minister himself, resulting in the Prime Minister and his administration being lampooned for arrogance of power and indifference to the people’s legitimate grievances over the avalanche of price hikes on the one hand coupled with unprecedented ostentation, squandering of public funds and new heights of corruption in the country.

In fact, the “kangkung” hullaballoo of jokes, videos, satire, comedies, sketches, demos and counter-demos, spawning products like Kangkung Fried Chicken, Burger Kangkung, McKangkung and even crossing international boundaries to become embarrassing “kangkung-gate” international news in BBC, Channel New Asia, Singapore Straits Times, Jakarta Post, is still from from over after two weeks of the “kangkung” storm.

The “kangkung” craze has also gone viral on the Internet, with three videos now attracting over 1.5 million hits on YouTube alone: the “kangkung remix feat, Najib” by Yuri Wong crossing 811,000 hits, the “Ucapan Najib ‘kangkung’ hangat di alam maya” video in second place with over 541,000 hits while the Effing Show #99 “Let Them Eat Kangkung” established as the hottest item of the “popteevee” series, with over 168,000 hits in less than ten days.

Sending his Ministers for compulsory media training is no real answer to bring an end to the administration of bloopers led by Najib.

What he should do is to take a firm grip of himself, end the auto-pilot administration and demonstrate leadership for a change by giving a positive response to the olive branch offered by the Pakatan Rakyat to him and the Barisan Nasional leadership for a Summit of Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat leaders to seek a consensus to end the quintuplet of national crisis in the country, including assuring Malaysians that there cannot be another May 13 racial riots.

Secondly, he should sack half the Cabinet who fits the definition of the previous Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as “half-past six Ministers” and produce a Cabinet which commands respect and confidence of Malaysians.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah