Don’t let fake passports story waylay the search and rescue efforts of MH370


The most dreaded media question by politicians in the West whenever there is a crisis is:” Will you resign your position to take responsibility for this incident/travesty/failure?”

But that’s the West. Here in the East journalists, even Western ones operating here under work permits controlled by governments, are better mannered and avoid such confrontationist approaches. This is all very good, but sometimes it makes it difficult to ascertain where the buck stops.

Take, for instance, the apparent failure of Malaysian immigration officials to intercept two apparently Asian-looking  men who were travelling under the fake identities of stolen Austrian and Italian passports.

The Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was right to fume to national newswire Bernama: “I am still puzzled how come (immigration officers) cannot think, an Italian and Austrian (passengers) but with Asian facial features.” It is, of course, not impossible that there are Italians and Austrians with Asian features, but they must be a minority and should have tripped off some alarm bells.

The Minister has rightfully called for a probe into the immigration officials at the KL International Airport branch.

Then the narrative takes a strange turn. The Department of Civil Aviation was asked to comment on the Minister’s remarks. The DCA’s director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman declined commenting on the case with the line: “I will not reveal too much on the two passengers still under investigation, as it might jeopardise the investigation.”

That is a strange response because the Immigration Department in Malaysia is under the Home Ministry. Azharuddin could have easily have said: “I cannot comment on the Immigration Department, you’d have to ask the Home Minister/director-general of Immigration about that,” and got away with it. This is because the DCA is under the Transport Ministry, not the Home Ministry. And the Immigration Department is under the Home Ministry.

It is a basic rule of media training, in normal times but especially in crisis-like situations, that you never speak in someone else’s behalf.

But Azharuddin did. So, to a layperson looking in, the lines are now blurred. If there is a failure in immigration procedures and security, whose responsibility should it be? Would it be the responsibility of the Home Minister or the Transport Minister?

Should they take the responsibility because this failure, if it turns out to be one, happened on their watch, or should officials lower down who are more responsible for the failure take the rap?

This question will be floating around in the media for the next few days and, if not handled properly, might escalate as the MH370 crisis, as Unspun wrote in a previous posting, would now be entering Stage 3 – the finger pointing stage.

This matter needs to be handled skilfully so that it would not get to the point that it saps energy and resources away from the main tasks at hand: the  rescue or recovery of MH370 and its passengers and crew; taking care of the families and loved ones and communicating to the public to assure them that everything possible is being done to find MH 370 and the people in it.

DCA keeps mum over minister’s revelation on dubious duo on MH370


A relative of a passenger on the missing Malaysian Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 watches DCA director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman during a televised news conference at the Everly Hotel in Putrajaya March 10, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

A relative of a passenger on the missing Malaysian Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 watches DCA director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman during a televised news conference at the Everly Hotel in Putrajaya March 10, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

SEPANG, March 10 — Malaysian authorities today refused to verify a minister’s claims that the two passengers who boarded missing MAS flight MH370 using stolen passports had “Asian” features, saying that they did not want to jeopardise ongoing investigations.Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said that it would be premature for him to comment on the claim, made last night by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

“I will not reveal too much on the two passengers still under investigation, as it might jeopardise the investigation,” he said, refusing to entertain repeated questions on the matter.

Ahmad Zahid made the revelation last night when announcing an internal probe on the Immigration Department over the incident.

“I am still puzzled how come (immigration officers) cannot think, an Italian and Austrian (passengers) but with Asian facial features,” he was quoted by national newswire Bernama.

Ahmad Zahid noted that the ongoing investigation is being carried out by a special team led by the department’s director-general Datuk Aloyah Mamat, and will focus on their Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) branch.

To a question on whether immigration officers on duty on the morning the flight went missing had cross-checked the passport details with Interpol’s database, Azharuddin again declined comment, saying that he could not say much on the matter for the time being.

“That is the duty of the investigating team to determine what happened that morning,” he said.

Azharuddin also sidestepped repeated questions on the level of security at KLIA following the discovery of the two yet-to-be-identified passengers on the missing flight, insisting that they adhere to international standards.

“The security deployed now at KLIA complies with international security standards. The DCA has done surveillance and audit of KLIA, and we have been audited by the United States and Australian security offices,” he said.

Speculation of possible foul play in the disappearance of MH370 is mounting after ticketing information showed the duo who boarded using the stolen passports had purchased one-way tickets.

Yesterday, investigations into the plane’s disappearance were expanded to include the possibility that it suffered a mid-air explosion, news agency Reuters reported citing sources.

Flight MH370 has now been missing for more than two days since it lost contact after departing Kuala Lumpur International Airport for Beijing, China on March 8.

There were 239 people on board, including 12 crew members.

Posted in communications, Crisis and issues management, Malaysia, Media | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Does Malaysia Airlines instil confidence in its handling of MH370 incident?

When tragedy strikes, like it has with the disappearance of flight MH370, the company at the centre of it all comes under intense scrutiny. It must demonstrate that it knows what it is doing and has a difficult situation under control – or lose the confidence of the public and all other stakeholders.

If it loses control of the situation it will plunge itself into a deeper crisis as all the frustration and anger of missing loved ones come to bear full force on it.

Fortunately for the families and loved ones of MH370, however, Malaysia Airlines has so far has demonstrated its professionalism in handling this crisis-like situation. Their burden remains heavy, but they can at least take comfort that CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya and his team know what they are doing.

How can you tell if they are doing a good job?  There are several tell tale signs.

The first is that Ahmad and Malaysia Airlines’ willingness to share information. Perhaps a bit slow off the block Ahmad nevertheless addressed the issue in a Press Conference yesterday where he expressed sympathy for the friends and families of the victims, told the public what they did and did not know yet, and what they are doing. This is the Triple R of crisis communications – Regret, Reason and Remedy.

The other indication of what sort of a company Malaysia Airlines is when it comes to crisis management can be seen very evidently  from how it manages its digital assets because in this age of the super-connected public, they are the first points of contact for most people around the world who are interested in the developments of the search and rescue and recovery of MH370 and its passengers and crew. The digital assets are primarily its website, as well as its social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

Companies trained in crisis management usually have a Dark Site prepared for incidents such as MH370. A Dark Site is a “dormant” website that is stripped of all promotion materials and designed to provide information and updates about the incident. It is activated only during crisis-like situations.

If you go to the Malaysian Airlines website you will see that they have stripped their website of all promotional materials, with a prominent “pointer” to the Dark Site.

MAS Website

Click on that and you go directly to the Dark Site where you get the latest information that the company has on the incident.

MAS Darksite

But Malaysian Airlines does not stop there. Go to their Facebook page and you will see the same messages being posted to amplify their message on the website. The Facebook page is also stripped of all colour and the airlines logo is grey together with a grey background, to prevent any inadvertent visuals that may not be appropriate for the mood.


This same treatment is also applied to its Twitter account which is also used to amplify the message on its website.

MAS Twitter

Such coordination and activation within hours of the incident suggests a company that takes crisis management seriously and has drilled its employees to be able to carry out such tasks under the pressure of public scrutiny. It should give confidence to the public that Ahmad Jauhari Yahya and his Core Crisis Management Team at Malaysia Airlines are competent, professional and know what they are doing.

In difficult times like this, such professionalism should be a source of comfort for aggrieved families and friends of the passengers of MH370.


Posted in communications, Crisis and issues management, Malaysia, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter | Tagged , , , | 36 Comments

How the media will report the MH370 incident

When a plane goes missing, it is a terrible experience for the families and loved ones of the victims. The uncertainty, the waiting and the frustration of not knowing can be heart rendering. The best we all can do is send our thoughts and prayers for the victims and their loved ones and, in Unspun‘s case, perhaps help people to understand how the media is likely to treat crisis-like situations like this and better prepare them for what they are about to read or see in the media.

Any crisis-like situation like MH370 goes through four stages. Stage 1 is the “Breaking News” stage. Almost all of the information is focussed on “what happened”. In this case the facts are that MH370 disappeared with no telltale signs such as a radio call or signal. This is strange, but speculation would not help. Facts are the only currency in crisis-like situations.Unspun thinks Malaysian Airlines’s CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya has handled the matter relatively well, with the factual delivery of his core statement at a press conference earlier today.

We have been seeing the characteristics of this stage in the media coverage but it has already morphed into Stage 2, which is focused on the “drama” of the victims or their loved ones’ responses, as well as the response of the perpetrator/responsible organization. This is a crucial make-or-break stage for Malaysian Airlines as the spotlight will turn on how they are responding to the situation, and the possible causes of the incident.

Malaysia Airlines will need to constantly update the media and the families of the victims as they will, rightly or not, be judged by how responsive and open they are with sharing information. This is a difficult task if the search and rescue teams do not find the wreckage of the plane soon but it is something that Malaysia Airlines would have to handle with great delicacy.

If Ahmad and his team handle things well they will be able to avoid Stage Three of a crisis: The Finger Pointing Stage. At this stage the media tries to focus on the “Why” of the incident and experts will be trotted out to speculate on who should have done what. Malaysian Airlines may not have the answers as airline incidents like crashes take a very long time to investigate, gather evidence, perform the forensics and come to any conclusions. But this would not stop the media, pundits and the general public from trying to place blame on someone.

After some time the incident will go into Stage 4, which is the Resolution or Fallout stage. The publicity is tuned down a notch as the focus shifts to either funeral services, government inquiries or special hearings. And even if  Malaysian Airlines conducts a successful closure strategy to the incident, the facts and myths of the matter live on in Google and social media, ready to pounce back with a vengeance if the airlines makes any mistakes.

It is a difficult situation and one can only hope that Malaysian Airlines has trained itself well in Crisis Management so that it will be able to provide crucial information and support for the victims’ families and loved ones throughout the incident and maintain enough control of the situation to continue to do so.

Posted in Crisis and issues management, Indonesia, Malaysia | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Ultrastupid Malaysian Home Ministry

If I ever had any doubts before that the country where I was born and raised in has literally gone to the dogs, I don’t have any now.

The Malaysian Home Ministry has just banned — of all things Ultraman. And then again not even in the TV version but the comic book version.

And as if that’s not incredulous enough, check out the reason for the ban: The comic book allegedly contained “elements detrimental to public order”.


Malaysia has sunk so low and the IQ of the government flunkeys have become so imbecilic that they see danger, insubordination and potential for public disorder, not to mention Kaiju, everywhere.

Yet another strong contend for Unspun’s Shit-for-Brains Award here.


Ultraman comic falls to Home Ministry ban 

March 6, 2014

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The Home Ministry today issued a ban on the publication of the Bahasa Malaysia edition of the comic book, 'Ultraman the Ultra Power', for allegedly containing elements detrimental to public order. File pic of a Uniqlo fashion launch featuring Ultramen. — AFP pic

The Home Ministry today issued a ban on the publication of the Bahasa Malaysia edition of the comic book, ‘Ultraman the Ultra Power’, for allegedly containing elements detrimental to public order. File pic of a Uniqlo fashion launch featuring Ultramen. — AFP pic 

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — The Home Ministry has done what countless monsters and space aliens could not: Vanquish Ultraman.

According to a report by national news agency Bernama today, the ministry issued a ban on the publication of the Bahasa Malaysia edition of the comic book, “Ultraman the Ultra Power”, for allegedly containing elements detrimental to public order.

“It is an offence under Section 8 (2) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 for any person to print, import, produce, reproduce, publish, sell, distribute, offer to sell or have in his possession for any such purpose the banned publication,” the ministry said in a statement.

The statement was not yet available on the ministry’s website this evening, but an official verified the ban when contacted by The Malay Mail Online today.

“Yes, KDN has banned the book ‘Ultraman the Ultra Power’,” the official said in a brief text message. KDN is the Malay acronym for the Home Ministry.

The ministry added that a gazette was issued on February 18 banning the comic that is published by Resign Publications and printed by Network Printers.

It is unclear what aspect of the comic had led to the ban.

Ultraman is a fictional Japanese superhero who fights “Kaiju” (monsters), and first appeared on television in the 1960s.

It later gained popularity worldwide, including in Malaysia, leading to localised versions of the TV series and comic books.

Posted in Malaysia, shit-for-brains | 4 Comments

Brushing up the past

Today, I taught my 12-year old son how to polish his shoes. He was intrigued by the process and pleased with the outcome of eyeing his scruffy shoes looking much more presentable after a coating of bootblack and brushing.

Even a small and not too difficult task, I felt good, having passed on to my son something that my father taught me when I was a kid. Till this day, whenever I polish my shoes the smell of the bootblack and the brushing and polishing to coal a dull sheen from the leather always reminds me of me being fascinated by this thing that my father bought me.

It was a boys’ thing, something passed from father to son for generations. Many years from now, I hope that my son will feel this way too.

Did you father teach you how to polish your shoes too?

Did you father teach you how to polish your shoes too?

Posted in Indonesia, personal | Leave a comment

Cutting through the clutter about the Cut the Crab incident

One of the ever-present threats of companies in the Food and Beverage business is food poisoning. This is especially so when you deal in seafood that spoils easily.

Cut the Crab, a hip new restaurant chain with a great gimmick – eat the crabs served on the table without plates, forks or spoons – recently found out how difficult it is to deal with allegations of food poisoning, especially when these allegations are boosted by social media. The allegations, and their consequences especially when they are amplified by Twitter, provide an interesting study for students of crisis and issues management.

So what are the salient learning from this incident (which has been summed up meticulously in  Zeit Post – see below)?

  1. Hip restaurants attract hip, young diners who use social media extensively. If they have a complaint, whether justified or not, they will Twit first, think later. Companies that court such clients must have a response plan or a SOP to handle complaints, especially when the swarm starts to scale up these complaints.
  2. The chances of seafood spoiling at some point in time are very high, even when you take all the right precautions. So anyone dealing with seafood – and food generally – must prepare for the probability of complaints of stale, spoiled food or food poisoning. The restaurant should have a response plan not only to investigate the complaints and how to reach out to the victims – but also to demonstrate these actions to the media.
  3. The media, especially news portals with dedicated food writers such as detikfood and Okezonefood, will pick up whatever is hot on Twitter and run with it. Their coverage will in turn fuel a spate of Retweets and comments, in a Voracious Cycle around the issue. Controlling the situation means slowing the momentum of this cycle by engaging both the individual users and engaging the media proactively to demonstrate that you regret the incident, the reasons why it could have happened and what steps you are taking to remedy the situation – the Three Rs of crisis management.
  4. When under siege it is never a good idea to sound defensive or to point fingers. It only arouses people’s suspicions of you when you are already under intense scrutiny. Therefore saying that you’re a victim of sabotage by rivals is a definite no-no

The Cut the Crab incident is still on the boil (ok, pun intended) at this posting. Will the franchise emerge out of this unscathed, as continued crowds at the restaurant even after the Twitter-news portal brouhaha broke out, seem to indicate; or will their business take a hit? Let’s watch the incident unfold.






Cut the Crab, Pelanggan Keracunan Makanan – Zeit Post


Mungkin akan terasa asing bagi anda mendengar nama restoran Cut the Crab. Tapi jika anda orang yang up to date dengan berbagai macam restoran seru di Jakarta. Cut the Crab adalah salah satu restoran seafood yang fenomenal.

Cut the Crab, Makan Kepiting dengan Bebas


Tentunya anda tidak makan kepiting layaknya di restoran all you can eat. Bebas yang di maksud adalah anda bisa makan dengan tangan dan bergaya seperti di rumah. Penyajian nya juga unik, pesanan anda akan datang di dalam kantong plastik bening dan di tuang begitu saja di meja makan. Tentunya meja sudah di sterilkan terlebih dahulu sebelumnya!

Ilustrasi: Penyajian Cut the Crab yang di sajikan di meja makan

Wow seru sekali bukan? Tentunya dengan penyajian yang unik ini, banyak orang yang penasaran dan kembali lagi untuk pengalaman lain menyantap makanan seafood. Restoran ini mengusung kepiting sebagai salah satu menu spesialisasi. Restoran ini juga ramai dan selalu penuh pengunjung pada akhir pekan.

Baru kali ini terjadi pemberitaan yang mencuat di media semenjak di bukanya restoran ini pada Mei 2013. (Belum di ketahui apakah ini restoran di CTC Cikajang atau cabang lain).

Masalahnya ..

Pelanggan yang Keracunan Makanan

Tentu tidak ada restoran yang ingin mencelakakan pelanggan, apalagi menyediakan sajian yang tidak segar dan berpontensi mengandung racun.

Read more

Posted in brands, business, communications, Crisis and issues management, Indonesia, Public Relations | Leave a comment

Why you need to help your new employees find jobs elsewhere

Having staff retention problems? For years we struggled with this problem, trying to stop people from leaving.

Then one morning we thought” “Why are we trying to stop something that can’t be stopped?”. So we changed strategies and and decided to manage the departure process instead.

We put together the Chrysalis program with Indra Soebardi from AAC – she’s the only headhunter who was imaginative and adventurous enough to get a grasp of what we are setting out to do – and rolled it out to the staff last week.

Will it work? Time will tell but if you’re interested in the details and the concept read this post below from our blog:

Chrysalis – A New Approach to Growing Our people

Here’s a wild idea. Come to work for us. We train you and groom you to be a first-rate communications practitioner. Then, after three years if you’d like to spread your wings and leave us for greener pasture, we’ll help you and we’ll even make sure you’ll get paid for this.

That is the basic idea of Maverick’s new career advancement program, Chrysalis that we announced last week. Stunt silence was the first reaction when people heard Ong Hock Chuan, the big boss, broke the news. I’m sure the second reaction, though probably uttered silently, was, “Is this for real?”

Yes, it is for real. Through Chrysalis, Maverick will help those employees who express a desire to explore new career opportunities outside of Maverick, providing that they have worked with us for at least three years. AAC, an Executive Placement Consultancy with specialty in the Communications industry, has bravely partnered up with Maverick.

“We know young people tend to stay in a company for two to two and a half years top before they start itching for new experience. We understand that need, so with Chrysalis, we ask them to invest at least three years in Maverick and learn as much as they can because we think that’s the minimum time you need to put in to become a capable communication practitioner,” explained Ong. “It will up your chance in landing in-house higher communications positions.”

Read more…

Posted in business, communications, Indonesia | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment