When you try to PR the un-PR-able…

This is what happens. Told’ja so here

 

Nowhere2Hide: Dr M’s man blasts Kok Wing

kok-wing

FMT Reporters | June 6, 2015

Najib’s PR team in tatters, says blogger, and warns image man Lim that his own legacy in danger

KUALA LUMUR: Najib Razak’s new image consultant, Lim Kok Wing, has been urged to beat a “quiet but hasty retreat” in a sharply-worded blog posting by Syed Akbar Ali, an ardent supporter of Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Syed Akbar Ali gave Kok Wing a double-barrel blast, blaming him for the “PR disaster of the century” when the prime minister did not show up at the Nothing2Hide public forum where Najib was expected to answer criticisms about his government’s handling of national affairs.

In addition, Syed Akbar warned Lim that “some people are not going to forget you for this” for his having warned Dr Mahathir at a personal meeting to lay off his campaign against Najib and for Dr Mahathir to expect his legacy and reputation to be torn to shreds.

Syed Akbar relied on unnamed sources to accuse Lim of having bungled by coming up with the idea of the forum. It had become “the biggest PR disaster of the century”, and people were calling it Nowhere to Hide instead of Nothing2Hide.

After Najib failed to show up at the forum, Dr Mahathir began to speak but the police intervened to stop him and turned off the microphone and video projector.

Syed Akbar said “some serious finger pointing” had begun inside Najib’s public relations camp because those responsible for telling the prime minister not to attend the forum were from another part of the PR team.

The blogger said Najib was “a PR disaster” and warned Lim that he could not “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”.

As an example, he cited Najib’s failure to say anything about Friday’s earthquake in Sabah, a first in Malaysia, until five hours later “because he was too busy running and hiding from Dr Mahathir all of yesterday morning”. Najib had also failed to visit the state and instead was going for an official visit to Saudi Arabia.

Syed Akbar warned Kok Wing that his own legacy (as an adman, image consultant, and founder of a creative design school) was now in danger.

Lim Kok Wing rose to prominence by being the Barisan Nasional’s principal image consultant in charge of all election campaign advertising during the 22 years of Mahathir’s several terms in office. He also founded a design school which eventually achieved university status under Dr Mahathir’s patronage and spread internationally.

Dr Mahathir, in his blog yesterday, alluded to Kok Wing, describing a visit by “a friend” and the friend’s advice to stop his campaign of criticising Najib. Dr Mahathir has asked Najib to step down as Umno president and prime minister.

Reminding Lim that Dr Mahathir had concluded by calling him an “ex-friend”, Syed Ali said pointedly: “I don’t know how else to say this but so late in life you have assumed a very stupid role for yourself.”

The blogger said he himself had visited Dr Mahathir on Friday evening and “from our conversation at Dr Mahathir’s office yesterday, I think some people are not going to forget you for this. A crime has been committed by some people. All the ‘levers of power’ (to borrow your words) are not going to help them. It is best for you to beat a quiet but hasty retreat. Don’t say I did not tell you.”

He warned Kok Wing that the only legacy that would go down the drain “is your future as well as your past”.

Ominously, Syed Akbar pointedly said “You don’t know what we discussed yesterday” at his own meeting with Dr Mahathir on Friday evening.

via Nowhere2Hide: Dr M’s man blasts Kok Wing | Free Malaysia Today.

Najib’s March of Folly

In 1985 Pulitzer prize-winning author Barbara Tuchman wrote the book The March of Folly  which was a fascinating study of why leaders from Troy to Vietnam acted against their own self-interest.

If she were updating the book today, Unspun thinks she would certainly consider not only adding Malaysian Premier Najib Razak but perhaps promote him to the front line of the phalanx of marchers.

Najib’s march, where his public image was concerned, actually began in 2009 when, critical bloggers began to expose his foibles and questioned his involvement in the Alantuya affair, where a Mongolian model was killed by the Premier’s bodyguards and then her body was disposed using C4 explosives.

There were rumours — all unproven in a court of law controlled by the Malaysian government –  that she was somehow romantically involved with Najib and the bodyguards acted under orders from the highest leadership in the land.

Najib's detractors are begging to have some fun with his appointment of Lim as a PR guru, as seen in this meme over Twitter
Najib’s detractors are begining to have some fun with his appointment of Lim as a PR guru, as seen in this meme over Twitter

Assailed by bloggers, who enjoyed a freedom of expression that the legacy press in Malaysia did not have, Najib made the decision of employ US lobbying and communications firm APCO to pull him out of the mess.

It was a strange choice because Najib’s problems had nothing to do with communications but everything to do with his character, his evasiveness and the decisions he was unwilling or unable to make. He was virtually un-PRable but the fat fees he offered  APCO prompted the company to embark on a March of Folly of its own: It accepted the appointment.

Critics, including Unspun (see link here) felt that it was an expensive exercise in futility and after many months and millions of taxpayer’s dollars were spent, APCO achieved nothing and its contract was not renewed.

That didn’t deter Najib to forge on in his march though. In spite of an absence of results he apparently retained the head of APCO Malaysia, a certain Ralph Stadlen to continue advising him. Consistent with the deliverables of APCO, the results of Stadlen’s work was not apparent to anyone. Najib’s reputation continued to plummet, especially when the 1MDB scandal broke.

The government, in the story below, has denied that it is paying for Mr Stadlen’s elusive services and claims no knowledge of his existence. This is all an old trick. Instead of paying him from official coffers, they must have got a crony to pay him from their own corporate coffers in return for favours. At any rate Mr Stadlen must cost a bomb, considering his rather flamboyant and public lifestyle (see here).

 

A Sarawak Report photo of Stadlen exhibiting his prowress at having a good time in Malaysia
A Sarawak Report photo of Stadlen exhibiting his prowress at having a good time in Malaysia

Now Najib has taken another step forward in his good march. Besieged by crumbling popular support even within his own political party Umno and stinging from the potshots fired by former premier Tun Mahathir Mohamad has taken to appointing former adman Lim Kok Wing to address his reputational concerns.

The tragedy here is that everyone knows that Lim Kok Wing, talented as he is, cannot save nab from his deeds, himself and his wife. Yet the March of Folly is so compelling that Najib is trying once again to classify his problems as communications-based and outsource it to a communications expert.

But the intriguing question here is what Lim to embark on his own March of Folly? Why when he has no apparent need for the money, take on a job with impossible odds – the pundits are now counting the days before Najib exits the national stage. Why take on a mission impossible and in the process tarnish his own image when Najib ultimately falls? Did Najib offer him an irresistible deal? Did Najib blackmail him into taking on the job? Or is Lim such an adventurer that he would march on where even angles fear to tread?

Who has the answer out there?

 

 

 Lim Kok Wing is Najib’s new PR strategist – The Malaysian Insider

 

Advertising man Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing, who has run Barisan Nasional’s election campaigns, is Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s new public campaign coordinator in a charm offensive to win over Malaysians and shore up the prime minister’s flagging popularity.

Lim rode high during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration, but the former prime minister is now Najib’s harshest critic.

It was learnt that Lim, who has been appointed “special programme coordinator”, has drawn up plans for Najib to go nationwide to gather support and listen to the complaints from the people.

Lim, who founded the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, will report directly to the Prime Minister’s Office which already has a string of advisors.

The 69-year-old, who set up Malaysia’s first local advertising agency, has been involved in election campaigns for almost four decades.

In 1994, Lim, on recommendation by Dr Mahathir, was tasked by the late Nelson Mandela in South Africa’s first free elections, giving his African National Congress (ANC) the slogan, “A Better Life for All”.

He also conceptualised and ran Putrajaya’s “Tak Nak” anti-smoking campaign and promoted the “Rakan Muda” and “One Heart, One Nation” programmes.

This latest appointment came months after Lim was first appointed as “Goodwill Ambassador” in the Prime Minister’s Department in a Tolerance Day celebration that his university hosted in November last year.

Now, Lim has to run a fully political campaign for the embattled Najib against Dr Mahathir who has openly asked the prime minister to step down over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

In 1975, Lim started Malaysia’s first local advertising firm and went on to start Limkokwing Institute of Creative Technology in 1991, before it became a private university in 2000.

He also sits on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) consultation and corruption prevention panel.

Lim now joins the list of four official advisors to Najib – Datuk Seri Dr Abdullah Md Zin, Datuk Johari Baharum, Tan Sri Rais Yatim and Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

It was also recently reported that  public relations firm Apco Malaysia’s Paul Stadlen, had also served in the prime minister’s National Communications Team.

The status of  Stadlen’s alleged role in the government remains unclear with Putrajaya saying it did not pay any wages to the former Apco Malaysia boss.

“To date, the government did not pay any salary to Paul Stadlen,” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim told PAS’s Hanipa Maidin in a written reply in Parliament on Wednesday.

Hanipa had asked about the amount paid to Stadlen who was purportedly a member of the communication team at the Prime Minister’s Office.

However, the reply was silent on whether Stadlen was part of the team. – May 22, 2015.

 

How to cover your flaws on MH370

The Malaysian Government has roundly been criticised by one and all for its dismal handling of the MH370 incident. It was in denial, it did not have the proper facts at their command, often it didn’t know what to do and it was miserable in being open, transparent and accountable throughout the futile search for MH370 and its victims.

Throughout all this Malaysia’s Defence Minister and Acting Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein was the man in charge of Malaysia’s search and Rescue efforts. He was also its chief spokesperson, a role that many critics thought he failed to play properly because he came across as arrogant and lacking in empathy.

To this day the plane has yet to be found. The families of hundreds of passengers and crew are still suffering from a lack of closure as a result.

This has not prevented Hishamuddin from moving on to co-author a book on – get this – “MH370: Flying Through Crisis. Lessons in Crisis Communications”.

In a post on the Facebook of his co-author is a photograph of them smiling (an appropriate gesture given the circumstances?) and posing with their magnum opus.

What does the book contain? The title suggests advice on how to communicate well during a crisis. Given Hashimuddin’s performance during the MH370 crisis he would be very well-qualified to dispense advice on what not to do during a crisis.

If this is the case then it would be a valuable resource for Crisis management enthusiasts.

So when Unspun was in Malaysia last week celebrating the new year and eating durians, he went to every bookshop he passed by to find a copy of the book but like MH 370 it proved elusive and could not be found.

If anyone finds me a copy of it please mail a copy to Unspun as he’d love to review it.

 

 

The shameless lament of Rosmah

There used to be an old joke at the expense of Indonesians and it goes something like this:

Q: What’s the difference between corruption in Indonesia and elsewhere?

A: None, except that in Indonesia there is an absolute lack of sense of shame associated with the corruption

This still holds true in Indonesia, where Military Chiefs parade with watches tens of thousands of dollars, policemen have bank accounts so fat it would take several lifetimes for them to accumulate on their salaries and luxury beyond the means of many of public servants.

But to see this level of shamelessness in Malaysia is something else. It used to be that there was at least a bit of embarrassment because you know what you do is wrong, rather than get all defensive about it.

The behaviour exhibited by Rosmah, the Malaysian PM’s wife who is known for her expensive handbags and shopping sprees overseas, is really…disgusting.

Someone who can spend RM1,200 (Rp 4.3 juta) to dye her hair and complain about hardship? Puhleze. And what for? Black hair does nothing to distract the looker from the overly botoxed face…

Malaysian PM’s wife laments rising costs | TODAYonline

Malaysian PM’s wife laments rising costs

KUALA LUMPUR — The Goods and Services Tax (GST) will curb errant hairdressers and tailors from overpricing their wares, said the wife of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak today (Feb 23), lamenting that she had to fork out RM1,200 (S$448.50) each time she had to dye her hair at home.

“It is really hard to make tailored clothes these days. Their prices come up to RM500, and I am speaking as a representative of a housewife that buys made-to-order clothes.

“We have to make beautiful clothes to attend functions, but the prices are way too high. For those who can afford, it’s alright.

“But what about housewives like us, with no income?” Madam Rosmah Mansor said during a briefing on the GST with other wives of ministers and deputy ministers (Bakti) in Petaling Jaya today.

Mdm Rosmah complained that the charges for hairdressers, tailors and make-up artists who make house calls were “really high” and “did not make sense”.

She said that housewives like herself, who had no choice but to use their services, often became victims and were burdened with exorbitant prices.

“Housewives, especially, often become the victims to such traders because there is no price control and guidelines by the government on house call services,” she said.

Read more

Najib’s PR Guru: The Talented Mr Stadlen

The Sarawak Report contains a fascinating story of the staying power and nocturnal pursuits of  Najib’s propaganda chief Paul Stadlen.

Stadlen apparently used to head APCO, a lobbying/PR firm appointed by Malaysian Prime Minister to help with his PR needs, which are legion. Unspun’s written about them here and here.

Many people then wondered why a firm that has been associated with its close contacts with the Jewish lobby was appointed by a sanctimoniously Islamic Malaysian Government. An explanation was that they wanted to lobby the US. This seemed a plausible answer.

But when APCO got nowhere and were dismissed by the Malaysian government it was then difficult to understand why Stadlen, who had headed the firm’s Malaysian operations, was retained to advice Najib on his PR.

Was Stadlen somehow more clever and had greater insights into Malaysians than any Malaysian Najib could find? Was he more strategic and savvy? Was he willing to be more brutal and unquestioning to his boss’s orders?

In all counts it is difficult to find a reason why Stadlen could have been a superior choice. This task is made all the more difficult if you consider that someone in his position would allow himself to be photographed having wild times and cavorting with Malaysian Bunny girls.

Surely even a humdrum PR advisor would know the reputational risks he exposes his boss and himself if he indulges in such good times?

So Malaysians, why is this Mat Salleh chosen over all the clever and equally scheming local boys and gals that Najib could have hired for a fraction of Stadlen fees?

(Unspun didn’t have enough coffee this morning and somehow thought Stalin was Steadly. Have made corrections to the copy. Apologies for not being too steady this morning)

Dream on Malaysia while Indonesia takes stand against “Islamic” crazies

I’ll never forget how wistful my Malaysian cardiologist was when he found out that I was from Indonesia and that we now have Jokowi as the President.

“He seems a good guy, isn’t he?” he said of Jokowi as I lay prone and half naked on the examination table.

“Yes he is,” I said.

“Ah, if only we can have a leader like that, simple, honest, straightforward…” he said as his stethoscope hovered over me and his mind conjured up the same qualities for his national leader.

Then he looked sad as reality bit. “Too bad, we can only dream what you have in Indonesia…” Perhaps he was conjuring images of his own leaders?

The sad thing about my cardiologist is that he is not alone among Malaysians. In my last trip back a few weeks ago my friends and acquaintances also reflected this sentiment. It seems that they are close to despair that the winds of change that have prevailed in Indonesia will ever reach them.

This despair is understandable though when you look at Malaysian society today and how religion, mainly Islam, is being used by an increasingly emboldened group to assert the superiority of the Malays overt the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia.

These groups have tacit, and sometimes not so tacit, backing from the Government and the ruling Umno party. A bit like the FPI (the Islamic Defenders Front) in Indonesia during the previous administrations.

Before the changes that swept the likes of Jokowi, Ahok, Riduan Kamil and other progressive leaders to power in national and municipal governments. The only power centre was the Government, made up of political brahmins out to rip off the country.

As the main interest of these brahmins was to enrich themselves by securing their political positions, they tacitly, and sometimes not so tacitly, supported organisations like the FPI and Laskar Jihad, essentially thuggish gangs abusing the name of Islam as a cover for their  extortion, intimidation and coercion of others, Muslim or not.

During Ramadhan the FPI would, for instance, conduct raids on licensed drinking establishments and turn those places upside down — unless they were paid protection money.

At other instances, depending on who paid them, they would harass whatever targets even to them.

For a long while many Indonesians despaired but there was little they could do. The police was reluctant to move against these organisations as they knew that their political masters were behind them. Companies went unheeded or left to wither in some mouldy file on some dusty desk.

Many Indonesian Muslims also felt trapped as to criticise them could be construed as criticising Islam. All a bit like Malaysia today, you just have to substitute the names of the organisations into Perkasa and other Malaysian organisations.

But while Malaysia still wallows in this unhappy state of affairs, Indonesia has moved on and have called the bluff of the bullies.

Jakarta Vice Governor Ahok, an ethnic Chinese and Christian, has borne the brunt of the FPI’s wrath over the past few months as they sought to block his swearing in (they didn’t succeed. He was sworn in yesterday). They called him an infidel and other names and say that he should not be allowed to lead Muslims.

But instead of keeping quiet or avoiding the issue Ahok has done something really brave. he took the FPI full on head-to-head. He has now filed a complaint with the Home Ministry asking that the Government ban the organization.

But what is heartening to note too in Indonesia is how the ordinary Muslims from all sectors of society are also speaking up against these self-proclaimed defenders of Islam and Islamic values.

All over social media, in small protests and in social settings they are making their voice heard that the real Islam is one of compassion, tolerance and understanding – and the FPI do not represent them.

It is through widespread groundswells like these that the tyranny of bullies like the FPI can be checked. Wouldn’t it be great if such groundswells can take place in Malaysia as well?

Not all what it seems in the Cadbury incident? – Maverick Indonesia

An update of the Cadbury incident in Malaysia, at the Maverick blog. It appears that the Malaysian Ministry of Health may have been mistaken when they said that there was porcine DNA in Cadbury’s chocolate products.

____________________

Not all what it seems in the Cadbury incident? – Maverick Indonesia

Could it be that our suspicions that the Malaysian Health Ministry had been wrong when they said that two samples of Cadbury Malaysia’s chocolates had contained porcine DNA?In our last posting we wondered why Cadbury had such a curious response to the Ministry’s findings:The curious part about Cadbury’s response is that they did not acknowledge whether the Ministry’s findings were correct; or at the very least whether it was consistent with Cadbury’s own findings and information. Once a Brand knows the batch number of a product it can easily track back to its suppliers and institute an inquiry into the contents of the product. This should take no more than two days by today’s standards.It now appears that Cadbury, either they read our posting, or came to the same conclusion has decided that it is better to come out with the fact that their own tests did not tally with the Health Ministry’s [continued..]