My ex-colleague at the Malay Mail, Terence Fernandez, took potshots at one Minister in the Sun's Friday issue.
Practise what you preach.
WORKING on theSun’s Euro 2008 special afternoon edition is not easy, although everyone thinks we have a cushy job watching football and being able to wear shorts to work. It is no walk in the park to work throughout the night, especially when you have to endure dreary matches like France vs Romania. One would rather watch paint dry.
This is why I have to thank a certain minister for keeping me from falling asleep on the job and inspiring me to pen this column.
Trying hard to keep awake, I was browsing through the newspapers (some may argue this will have a reverse effect) when my senses were rejuvenated by a report of the minister exhorting Malaysians to save by spending their holidays locally. I have no doubt that with the current cost of living, a local holiday – which in many cases means balik kampung – is about all many Malaysians can afford. And there is no shame in vacationing in Langkawi, the East Coast or one of our many hill resorts. They have beautiful beaches, pristine sceneries and will not cost you an arm and a leg.
My young cousin in up-market Bangsar who had visited my parents in Kelantan during the school holidays was relating his experience to several hoity-toity classmates who were bragging about their vacations in Europe and Australia. They were mesmerised by his tale of taking a boat ride, seeing a cow for the first time, thinking it was a horse and trying his hand at pottery – and conceded that he had a better holiday than them!
Which is why, while I am all excited with my impending all-expenses-paid trip to Vienna to watch the Euro semis, at the back of my mind is the credit cards I am going to max out on incidentals such as catching a Mozart symphony performance or visiting Salzburg.
Back to the minister. While the advice is sound and prudent, it is nothing short of laughable since the message comes from someone who almost emptied the coffers of another ministry and its subsidiaries which the minister headed previously.
And the minister’s first order of business in the new ministry? Spending more than RM300,000 to renovate a new office in Putrajaya, before moving from the previous building which was home to five of the minister’s predecessors.
I am convinced that the honourable minister’s advice does not come from the heart. If anyone was serious about the rising cost of living and being prudent with money – theirs and others – it would show through actions not words.
Which is why instead of inspiring the people, such advice only tends to infuriate them further. It’s like asking us to eat ubi kayu, while you dine on champagne and caviar. Telling us to commute, while you move around in a limo with two outriders.
It’s all about leadership by example. The minister, unfortunately is not alone. The minister merely symbolises others in positions of power who "cakap tak serupa bikin".
Having said that, following the minister’s advice, one hopes that we will see an end to all lawatan sambil belajar. But then, just slap a tag of "drawing investments" and it will be business as usual again.
To quote pop star Phil Collins: "Just do as I say, don’t do as I do."