Can you smell the elephant in the room?

by Stan CH Lee


Recently DPM Muhyiddin Yassin proudly announced that Malaysia’ branding is something that is real, rooted in reality. Not something that it aspires to be.


I guess he has to justify the staggering amounts paid to some Israeli PR firm for massaging the image. He obviously believes the guy who said “Get a good creative person and he can make a stinking dead elephant smell like perfume.” To be sure, good creative work can even wipe a dark past clean, but for this to work, the subject must have already started on the road to redemption. You could have been a scoundrel in your younger days, but are now a responsible member of society. If you continue in your merry old ways, it shows up jarringly against the branding.

Bikin tak serupa cakap, they say.

Branding or in layman’s terms image- how you want others to see you is an important part of marketing whatever your product is. It could be a consumer item, a service, a dream.This is what a woman does when she puts on her make up. A perfectly human desire- looking good for the world. And the feeling is priceless.

I used to be in advertising. And I am familiar with photo retouching, having done all ths from the early days of the Airbrush to the current Photoshop. I have retouched faces, products, entire neigborhoods, completely changed the ambience of a scene. I have created images of things yet to exist- all the better to sell a dream. Entire neighborhoods filled with lush landscaping, shady sidewalks that encourages the beautiful people to come out and play. A lifestyle that all can aspire to. Though buyers won’t see anything of it when they put their 10-30% money down. The promise- it will be realised 3 to 4 years down the road. Many a developer leveraged on this to sell their unbuilt properties.The smart and successful ones did deliver. And they have to deliver to sustain the brand image. These companies continue to do good business and will do so for a long time yet.

There are also those, some even backed by big names, who ran off with the money. Today, many empty husks stand as broken, half finished monuments to broken promises.

Between the branding and the reality is something that our dear Home Minister likes to call perception. Perception is usually shaped by what people feel. In the past, perception is easily managed. Good publicity in the media goes a long way to maintain a feel good brand image. Keep away any negative reports and you will have people eating out of your hands.Media control is key.Used to work very well when you have only the Mainstream Media. Man, I was totally brainwashed for 50 years of my life! And I believeI am a decently informed person, I consider myself well read, and is well abreast of current events – all courtesy of the Malay Mail, then the Star. How naïve I was to underestimate the influence MSM had in my life. I felt safe. I used to be proud of Dr M and his Malaysia Boleh. I used to cheer when he stood up to the Western powers. He had a Vision- Wawasan 2020. The song “Setia” made me tear up. I believed the dream.

Reality Check
Reality hit us hard. Today it is a totally different world. With internet, Cell phones, Citizen journalism, the world of reality TV, the truth will be out there before you can leave the elephant in the room. There is no such thing as a closed private meeting anymore where you can let it all hang out like the Listen Incident. People can see what you are really like in “private“and compare this with the public airbrushed/photoshop brand image being circulated. The consequences of a disconnect between the brand and the reality will result in a total collapse in credibility. Leading sometimes to strange behaviour amongst those who nobody believes anymore. They cannot tell the difference between “Right” and Wrong”, “Forgive” and “Apologise”, “Private Funds” from “Public Funds”, “Protect” and ”Assault” and most of all, “Government” and Country”.
Hard to believe, but this is really happening.

Like the Admiral who defended purchase of Scorpenes by alluding to the Portuguese invasion of Malacca, many of our leaders today are still living in the last century. Shows how out of touch some people can be after living too long in their ivory towers, isolated from the grimey reality on the streets..

The reality, in spite of lame assurances by the authorities is out there for all to see. And they see it faster, clearer and often looong before the authorities have a clue as to what happened. You can deny, but you cannot hide, you cannot run, so you throw money, you throw rice. To no avail.

The truth is out. So are you

  1. #1 by rjbeee on Saturday, 27 April 2013 - 11:53 am

    Firstb we must get rid of the racist, who said malay first than malaysian, the he talks about 1Malaysia, give mandate, he thinks malaysian are fools….

  2. #2 by rjbeee on Saturday, 27 April 2013 - 11:55 am

    The elephant is in his house,he doesn’t’t know…hahaha..looking for mandate…50 years made money now want mandate……

  3. #3 by ahkmlog on Saturday, 27 April 2013 - 11:59 am

    I was at the DAP led PR rally in Johor Jaya last night. Your Ipoh counterpart said that from 22 – 23 Apr, you have traverse South to North and back with very little sleep in between and you look tired. This is the final push we know but please do take care.

    UMNO/BN’s slogan of “Janji DiTepati” is just like all his others ABC soup which is half baked. Why? Its the mentality of the UMNO members especially due to their high handedness of “Ketuanan Melayu”. They want to rule but also they want to take. This is where we are at this moment of their ruling with debts running as high as RM502B. In no time, we may hit the road of Cyprus because of their blatant spending.

    Ini Kalilah Rakyat Malaysia kami UBAH Malaysia for A BETTER MALAYSIA.

  4. #4 by good coolie on Saturday, 27 April 2013 - 8:15 pm

    A nugget picked up from my civil service days:-
    “Encik,” said the harassed junior officer, “Saya bukan jenis orang yang suka menutup bangkai gajah dengan daun nipah”.

    By the way, what sort of country has this become when a high-ranking officer of his majesty’s government can be gunned down publicly? What next?

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