The following day, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Abdul Halim Ali said that from now on protocol would be set
aside at functions to enable leaders and
government officials to get to know the public better.
He said the people should be allowed to sit
with the leaders, even with the Prime Minister himself.
The directive, he said, had been conveyed
to the heads of department so that leaders could interact with the people and get
to know their problems directly.
The decision is long overdue. Organisers
of public functions, involving government leaders, often waste valuable time on
elaborate and tedious welcoming ceremonies.
These time-consuming ceremonies are not just expensive and unproductive but
trivial at times.
More often that not, school children have
to take part in these ceremonies. Dressed up in the various costumes representing the country's ethnic groups, they sometimes have to wait for hours for the VIP to turn
I recall being at a function a few years
back in Limbang, Sarawak, where a Lun
Bawang schoolgirl stood barefeet in the hot sun waiting for a VIP to arrive.
Standing on the tarred road, the blistering
heat was too much for her. I urged her to put on her shoes or wait in the shade.
But like all students who fear offending
their teachers, she refused, preferring to suffer quietly.
The VIP, when he finally arrived, hardly
noticed her, quickening his pace to make up for lost time.
In all fairness, the VIP should not be
blamed. The fault lies with the organisers who, in trying to please the
powers-that-be, often spare little
thought for people like the
That aside, the rakyat should not be subjected to boring and long-winded
speeches. The stage should be left to
the key speaker.
It should not be an occasion of extravagant
adulation; leaders should get to the point.
It would help if the speakers do away with
the tiresome practice of making references to all the Tan Sris, Datuks, Datins and
Yang Berhormats present as a prelude to
Is it any wonder that we often see Malaysians falling asleep when a VIP is
As with most Malaysian functions, the
VIPs and the guests usually end up having a meal.
Reporters are familiar with scenes of
VIPs attempting to sit nearest to their party boss, presumably to show that they are
the favoured ones. Others assume that by
sitting next to the big shot, the
chances of appearing in the news would be better.
Unfortunately, the ones who really matter
the common folk are unable to
mingle with the leaders. Often, they are
relegated to forming queues outside the
hall where they jostle to shake the
Ironically, these are the people who usually treasure the little gesture by the
Fellow VIPs need not be seated together
since they meet most of the time.
If the Umno supreme council meeting in
Ipoh is to be a precedent, each council members should be assigned to a
table so that the leaders can hear for
themselves what the grassroots have to
Organisers of public events should also refrain from subjecting their guests to
performing ridiculous tasks for the sake of photo opportunities which most
Malaysians are no longer impressed
At the end of the day, our leaders should
realise that the simple things in life are often the best.