Since the flood and the rakyat’s complaints of how the authorities were too slow to handle the situation, Malaysians have decided to take it upon themselves to help their fellow citizens in need.
And after seeing how successfully the people have helped out, authorities decided to jump on the bandwagon themselves. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t met with the enthusiasm that they expected.
It’s How You Do Your Job That Counts
A lot of ministers went to turun padang to observe the aftermath of the flood. However, some of them were more helpful than others.
We’ve heard news of ministers coming down just to wave at the stranded citizens and some while having the resources, brought along their posse to actually be of any real help.
We also have other ministers who went alone to help the flood victims, those who actively helped as much as they could without the need to hold an opening ceremony first.
The actions of ministers who keep making excuses for themselves instead of helping the public has led to a lot of memes and jibes about them circulating online. I could spend hours on Twitter scrolling through the rakyat’s opinions on what the ministers can do with their titles.
And yeah okay, those jokes are funny and honestly, warranted. Especially after reading up on what she’s done to “help” with the flood. But at what point are these jokes considered too far?
Taking Things Too Far
Twitter has shared so many memes and edits of #KerajaanGagal and for the most part, it’s harmless — just people expressing their anger. But recently, things started taking a turn for the worse.
It’s okay for you to express your disappointment if you feel that your representatives aren’t doing their jobs but what’s not okay is for you to poke fun at other aspects they can’t control. For example, their appearance.
Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Datuk Seri Rina binti Mohd Harun came under fire for her “acts of service” recently during the aftermath of the floods. She went to “help out” flood victims by doing some cleaning.
People were also making fun of the fact that she wore high heels to visit a flood site and how she cleaned an area that was already clean using a power washer.
She shot back at netizens claiming that it wasn’t nothing. There were lizard and bird droppings there. Yeah, okay girl, you do what you got to do. To be honest, it’s very easy to make fun of someone who says weird things when they’re cornered.
But what’s not fun is when people started mocking her for her weight and making sexist remarks about her marital status and appearance. Come on, guys. Haven’t you heard of the term “don’t hate the player, hate the game”?
Or in this case “hate” the player all you want, but be sure to just criticise our political representatives for how they do their jobs. Because in the end, what’s important is what she should do better, not her appearance.
It’s Okay, Until It’s Not
Again, you’re very well within your right to be angry at her, but to bring her physical appearance into the argument and change her name on Wikipedia to something completely inappropriate is crossing the line. You could instead focus on criticising her for not taking quick action or for using the flood victims as her way to gain more publicity.
There are a lot of valid points you can bring forward in order for her to improve the way she does her job. But please, do not make fun of someone over something they have no control over.
What does it matter how she looks? It should matter that a lot of Malaysians aren’t very happy with her performance as a minister. There are also netizens (also politicians, might I add) that asked, “Rina Harun ni dah kahwin ke?” As if marriage determines a person’s ability to make good or bad decisions.
I mean… y’all said it, not me. Or were they implying that she’s making bad decisions because she doesn’t have a husband to lead her? Make me understand this, please, because I clearly don’t see the correlation. The sexism in some of these jokes is really distasteful.
Sometimes, there is such a thing as too much. You can take a joke and stretch it as far as you want without touching any aspects of physicality.
Some of you may argue that her ministry did the same thing in their Penampilan Diri #Wanita Cegah COVID-19 campaign that advised mothers working from home to always look neat and “groom themselves”. I don’t know what wearing makeup at home can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 but…okay, I guess.
So to you, I ask, why would you want to stoop to the same level? Be the bigger person and see things from a professional standpoint instead of a personal one.
Learning From It
It’s very important to hold our ministers accountable for their actions but it’s also important to know the difference between making jabs at someone for their behaviour and performance and making jabs at their physical traits. Let’s all be adults about this, and not resort to petty name-calling.
Educate your ministers and future leaders on their wrongdoings by telling them outright what you’d like them to do for the country. Some examples may include emergency escape plans in times of disasters, properly maintained floodgates, and ministers who are well-informed about what to do in times of a crisis.
Sometimes expressing yourself when you’re angry can be difficult, especially with topics that involve politics. Here’s something to take note of when want to convey what you’re thinking:
What You Can Say: Comments on a minister’s performance. E.g. “I’m disappointed in how he/she has handled this situation.”
What You Shouldn’t Say: Comments on physical appearance, family members, and relationship status. E.g. “Dia ni dah kahwin ke?“
This flood has taught us that our country is undeniably unprepared for a natural disaster and they need to be sure that this doesn’t repeat itself.