A smiling face is normally one which we like to see. However, that is not always the case!
You might have come across pictures and videos in the media of the distribution of food aid by political groups. And lo and behold — imprinted boldly for all to see on the aid packages are party logos and portraits of politicians!
An article published this morning by Free Malaysia Today brought this to the fore when the presidents of two consumer associations and the co-founder of a volunteer society denounced this practice, calling it a cheap political stunt that claims credit for giving aid even though part of the cost is ultimately borne by taxpayers.
Marimuthu, president of the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations, condemned this as a shameless act, saying that it shows how politicians are totally disconnected from people in need, who are often seen in long queues waiting to receive such aid. Such practises, he said, amount to direct campaigning funded by taxpayer's money and misuse the plight of those who have fallen on hard times.
Mohideen Abdul Kader, president of the Consumers Association of Penang called such actions "cheap politics" which do not make sense in the midst of the current economic and health crisis which has seen many deaths daily. He added that since public funds are used for the aid, it amounts to a moral wrong for politicians to claim credit for such aid and that there should be a semblance of decency and morality.
What is the expense? Marimuthu points out that it could cost RM 5 apiece for the imprinting on certain materials, while Kembara Kitchen co-founder William Cheah estimates that a sticker costs between 10 to 50 cents, which is a waste of resources. Cheah called on politicians to focus on the coordination of efforts to help the needy instead of trying to get publicity for themselves.
What is our take on this? We wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Mohideen, who summed it up beautifully by saying: “People do not want to see the smiling faces of heavily made-up ministers or MPs on the packs.”
To us, such actions have the reverse effect instead. For struggling households who blame the government for the situation they are in, the pictures of the very politicians who they perceive as responsible for their plight are like a middle finger in their faces. It is absolutely disgusting to them and sends across the message that the distribution of aid is a sham and a self-promotion exercise above anything else.
As pointed out by Marimuthu and Cheah, the money spent towards self-promoting could have been directed towards obtaining additional aid, which would have resulted in more necessities being distributed to more people. It is obvious that the politicians have gotten their priorities completely wrong and that they have much to learn from NGO's and other charity organizations.
Can aid be distributed WITHOUT self-promotion? Absolutely! So do it WITHOUT ulterior motive and the need for fanfare. Then only can it be said that it is truly genuine and comes from the heart.
Image credit: Free Malaysia Today