Veteran Journalist Barbara Walter will retire next year 2014.
Just days before she announced her retirement in June, the American News Women’s Club honoured her with its annual Excellence in Journalism award and the event became a tribute to her. In the US, their tribute event are called roast.
Speakers will be invited to share stories, jokes, and anecdote to kid around on the honoured. Basically, the honoured is being 'roasted' for laughs. It is a light hearted American way of giving respect and honouring a person of enormous contribution.
Ever since the pathetic answer given by Dato Shahidan Kassim to a question in Parliament on the use of private jet by Prime Minister's wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, she kept getting roasted too.
Only thing is she is not being given tribute but being politically grilled.
Problem lies with Shahidan's poor answer to claim her role in bringing in investment from the Middle East. It was a shallow attempt to praise her and side stepping the issue thus inviting cynicism and criticism. For that matter, Shahidan is shallow and terrible replacement for Dato Nazri Aziz.
Compounding the problem, most attempt to answer were on side issues. The need to show the official invitation is not important. By answering cabinet approved the trip, it only avert the blame from Rosmah to the Prime Minister and cabinet members and invited more speculation of other abuses.
Private jet is not for use by others than the Prime Minister and only on official visit. In the days of Tun Dr Mahathir, he fly commercial for overseas trip and by MAS. Smaller private jet or helis was used merely for domestic trips.
There was whispering attempt to answer using security issues but that can be easily debunked because security is a matter of making prior arrangement.
The public concern these days is rising cost of living from fuel price, sugar, rental and property prices, etc. They have no tolerance for executive wastage and excesses. I told you so, Dato Husni Hanazlah.
The Prime Minister's Office must acknowledge that argument against the private jet use was fair and justified thus just stop doing it and move on. Better still, sell that ACJ jet bought during Pak Lah's days. Then the issue will be laid to rest.
It was already laying low if not for an attempt to answer the jet issue through an UMNO delegate from Federal Territory. If the Prime Minister love and concern for his wife., then others too have wives. Why not get government allow them to travel by private jet?
It made a mockery of the speaker and revive the issue. The next Monday it became a subject of discussion in the Penang State Assembly and Malaysiakini conveniently highlighted the debate.
Since UMNO politicians hardly read the blogs, or at least the credible ones, they are not capable of knowing and use a fact that Lim Guan Eng went on an expensive first class holiday travel to Europe for one Christmas.
Ask la ... who paid it?
To the rescue
Pity the Prime Minister who had to come foreward to cover-up to many boo boo responses on his wife. Thus, another boo boo in his closing speech at the UMNO General Assembly.
It brought criticism from Bigdog here and here as undermining the process of government and "bad precedents". Dato Najib sort of indirectly affirm and gave fodder to the impression that there had been improper involvement of his wife's in government matter.
The counter to that is in Rocky Bru's posting here. Dato Anifah Aman's commented that the government had to do whatever it takes to save our citizens. In government and business, outside help or go-between are common.
Frankly, Najib should not have revealed it. He could put it in his memoir after getting security clearance when he retires but not now. It only cast the wrong perception of himself [read Mummy Rokiah here] and Rosmah.
For instance, Dato Kadir Jasin wrote a cynical posting here to propose that Rosmah be made a Minister. His posting had been re-reported by opposition blogs and news portal.
His repeated cynicism must have brought too much heat that few bloggers [read in Gelombang Wangsa Maju here] attempt to counter and do a counter attack.
Sorry guys, he is out of your league. Whoever coached them to answer by asking why no fair reporting on the Jacob & Co reply on the RM24 million ring and raising transparency on Kadir's own business are hitting the wrong nail.
As bloggers, they should no better the difference between blogging and news reporting. Berita Publishing is not a listed company. Anyway, it was a loss making subsidiary of NSTP when Kadir tookover.
The attempt to reply Kadir was not the answer but rhetorical and personal. It does not help the cause of Rosmah. If only the know the past relationship between the more elderly Kadir and the younger Najib and Rosmah, they will butt out.
It is a long history and it is best to stay out.
It is strange that the role of Prime Minister's wife is food of public and political discussion. She is not the one with the power. But since she had made herself a prominent public figure, she is open to such.
At least, comment or criticism on Rosmah should not be personal but kept "professional" and focus.
Not knowing the background to Kadir's cynical criticism, several academics had innocently discussed it as a serious suggestion. Both view it as unnecessary. [Read in Jelapang here.]
For sake of a "professional" and focus discussion, we have a view too and it is contrary to the two academicians. If she has the capability and capacity to play a role, why not allow her to take up an official role?
Singapore's Prime Minister, Brigedier General Hsien Loong's wife had an official role in government as CEO of Temasek Holdings. Datin Dr Wan Azizah is PKR President while husband Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim is Ketua Umum of PKR and daughter Nurul Izzah is Vice President. DAP has Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng, Guan Eng's wife and Kit Siang's another daughter also holding positions in the party. The list can be longer.
Since there had been much complains on the candidate list, cabinet appointments, appointment of secretaries, agencies chairmanship and GLC chairmans and elected UMNO position holders, Najib should bring in all the talents he is comfortable with, including his wife.
When Bill Clinton was President, he gave the First Lady an official portfolio to look into. Hillary was not just going to events to watch kids perform in shows or kissing and hugging the cubby ones, but looking at the agenda to reform the national healthcare. After Clinton's Presidency, she won the New York Senatorship, ran for President, became Secretary of State and do not be surprise she will run for President again and win.
Quite sure, Rosmah can replace any of the few incompetent and verbally disastrous Chap Ayam Ministers in Cabinet. As a Minister, she will have a portfolio to run, attend Wednesday cabinet meeting, have constitutional responsibilities, and too busy to "interfere" as many alleged her to do.
She will be transparent and in Parliament, she does not have to rely on Shahidan but stand up to answer for herself in Parliament. That way she will be the most accountable and transparent first lady. No more such complain of her hogging the news because she is entitled to get coverage.
As we wrote before in past posting, no answer and defense of Rosmah will ever be credible and acceptable. Even if there are credible answers or fault of others, it will not be satisfying and still falls back to her.
The opposition see her as Najib's Archilles Heel and wants to roast her. Detractors of Najib could not see any other way for a Prime Minister's wife to carry herself than the model set by Tun Siti Hasmah Mohamed Ali. Certain segment of the public have built up a negative perception of her that all rumours are believed without confirming.
She was also implicated in the purchase of the Scorpene submarines although as sources claim, Abdul Razak Baginda could not see eye to eye with maam.
We are aware how piss off some officers in PMO to Syed Akbar's posting to call PMO officers dunggu that top ranking blogger APA here had to come out to defend.
In the issue of Altantunya and Scorpene, we blame it on the incompetence of some PMO media officers that wanted to playdown. That made the issue linger forever.
Leading to that issue, PKR did a prequel on her using Chegu Bard "Simpson"-initiated Rosmah Puaka video series on You Tube.
It serves to revive past gossip surrounding Rosmah's marriage to Najib, which was the marriage of two divorcees. Najib and Rosmah children are marriageable age yet they could go back that long.
For decades, Rosmah had been accused of stealing someone's husband and a social climber. There was many gossip with sordid details circulating then. Some we heard from Rosmah's colleague and some member of the Board of I&P.
No one blame Najib for stealing someone else's wife. Only the woman gets the blame.
When everything quiet down and the major slanders on Altantunya's death and Scorpene debunked, came Deepak and late PI Bala tried to revive the Altantunya issue. Thankfully it ended, PI Bala died and the attempt tanked.
Rosmah's reputation had been tarnished continuously by the opposition and her detractors in government for too long a time. Short term public relation exercise or makeover can not do much.
There is nothing Rosmah do that will not be closely scrutinised. She is like a metal rod attracting lightning. Only option is for her to stay out of the picture. As the Prime Minister's wife, that is difficult.
If she stays out of sight for too long, some rumourmongers will start to generate story that the Prime Minister is having a marital problem. The political twist will be, if the Prime Minister can't address his domestic affair, he is unfit to run the affair of the nation.
Another difficulty is that Rosmah is a person on her own right. She makes a clear message by attending functions in attire not in color coordination or as the Malay say these days, tak sedondon with her husband.
She has her own causes, like Permata. That we truly appreciate because her perseverence or plainly said, pestering helped make it what it is. Left to government bureaucrasy, the young potential from poor family will be left unattended.
Coming from a family and extended family of cikgus, we appreciated the importance and noble intention of Permata.
Our mother is a teacher all her working life from her late teens till her early 60s. She can spot the kid that will make from day one in Standard one. Her conclusion on why chiildren from lower income family, particularly rural Malays slack is because of lack of early childhood education.
A cousin with doctorate in childhood development is involved in Permata. A sister in law is involved in the Permata centre for autism children. Her son, coincidently is Najib, has autism and such children are highly talented but need professional guidance.
Rosmah has done and will continue do some good but the fact she is Rosmah, she will constantly be roasted for her mistakes and be lost in perception.
Since she is a made herself prominent publicly (otherwise, Lee Kuan Yew would not have made it a point to visit Najib and meet her at their home), just live and deal with it. No point for others to be angry or trying to spin an answer. Face the truth, be honest and move on. Quite sure Rosmah is a fighter.
Given to us to make the call, the solution is to appoint her as cabinet member and replace some of those donkeys, so she can fend for herself.
* Edited 12/12/13 12:13 PM