Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Curry Laksa, Nasi Lemak, and Roti Canai - ‘What Say You?’

Have you heard about the latest bug going around? You know, the ‘re-branding’ sickness? It sure looks as if there’s a major strain of it going around of late. Well, at least we seem to be hearing a lot about it in all kinds of situations.

Some months back the highly prolific, charismatic, eloquent orator and ‘democratic’ leader of the MIC (wink, wink), had a high profile shindig to launch the re-branding of his party. Oh, it was meant to give the party a new look; a face lift, as they say. Well, since then, we’ve sure seen exactly what this exercise in repackaging has been all about.

This sickness appears to have re-infected the top brass in Umno with its own image polishing ploys, which I might add – like the MIC experience – have also gone astray and embarrassingly backfired on Umno. One such example is all that (bad) publicity they got about being a bully.

Then, there is this matter of the ‘sudden disappearance’ of the television program, ‘What Say You?’ And what do you suppose has happened to the program? Would you believe it, according to Teresa Koh, she ‘was told that the programme was undergoing a ‘re-branding’ exercise.’ Huh? Apa pula nak re-brand?

Now maybe I’m not quite as sharp and savvy as these Umnoputeras, but you’d think they’d get a bit more creative with their propaganda – maybe just once in a while at least! I mean if even I – with not much of an IQ - can catch on to this and smell something rotten here, how credible do you think they sound to most Malaysians when they use this lame ‘re-branding’ ploy again! And what’s even more dumb-founding is they presume that we’re buying this rhetoric that a highly successful television program needs ‘re-branding’; and that too, it must be taken off the air altogether to be re-branded!

Now I’m sure you could, as can I, come up with a rather lengthy list of things that Umno and BN can go and re-brand. But ‘What Say You?’ would not be on my list of something that’s been a failure and in need of re-branding. Sure, you might even argue that Umno, MCA, MIC , and the other faltering and staggering BN parties might be in need of a serious ‘face-lift’ as in the last year especially, they’ve truly looked even uglier than…well, use your imagination. But even these face-lifting measures for their respective parties are not fooling the wider public. After all, do you really expect much to change through the façade of a face-lift and a re-packaging of the same old ideology?

But this re-branding ploy about why the plug was pulled on ‘What Say You?’ really takes the cake. Suggesting that this television program needs re-branding is not only laughable, it is like their re-branding exercise that gave us the saying that non-Malays are pendatang, or the re-branding of Hindraf as a threat to our national security. In other words, it’s utterly farcical. To claim that the popular television program was taken off the air so it can be re-branded is like trying to supposedly improve on exquisite curry laksa, nasi lemak, or roti canai! Yes, it’s akin to taking something that is authentic and unsurpassable, and to suggest that we need to re-invent the recipe! Simply absurd and utterly unconvincing.

Such rhetoric defies logic, and the re-branding ploy itself is pathetic. Indeed, it is as preposterous and insulting as the re-branding BN has been very accustomed to doing for many years now: repackaging their authoritarianism as ‘democracy.’ Time and again, they have given lip-service to ‘democracy’ only to undermine free speech, the free press, and other democratic processes.    

And again, it seems this contagion of re-branding has taken on a new intensity and is spreading; the symptoms are again showing up in several places. Sebenarnya, masalah ‘re-branding’ ini seperti hal buruk muka, tetapi cermin yang dibelah! 

I say, the best antidote to the ‘re-branding’ sickness is real reform. ‘What Say You?

G. Krishnan