By LIM MUN FAH
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
The WWW vehicle registration number plat controversy has reflected a political reality. The words and deeds of politicians might be magnified at any time as everyone is talking about public opinion nowadays. They have no way to escape and it depends on their own wisdom, confidence and even a little sense of humour to deal with it.
Let's see how three politicians responded to the controversy. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Liow Tiong Lai wanted to accept yet rejected the number plat. Eventually, he could not stand the pressure and decided not to pay the RM24,000 bid and give up the WWW 15 number plat, that he claimed that he did not bid or tender for it, but his office had requested it to be used for the minister's official car, to the highest bidder. Meanwhile, Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi said that he would reject the WWW 69 vehicle registration number which a car dealer won for RM30,000 by misusing his identity. Only Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz said that he would pay RM11,000 for the WWW 97 car registration number, which would be used for his personal car.
Regardless of whether the controversy would continue to ferment or not, the ministers have shown us three different styles of response. Someone is indecisive, someone showed a none-of-my-business face and another one is over self-confident. Particularly, Nazri showed his strong personality when he said: “I have a lot of money, how to spend the money? As a minister, RM10,000 is not much." You might say that he was arrogant or did not understand the people's hardships. However, he was blunt and did not try to avoid or cover it. It won him a little applause. Even though it was a sparse applause, it is still better than being criticised.
I always think that Liow lacks pride, courage and confidence. He admitted that he did not handle it well but he seems unaware that it was because of the lack of pride, courage and confidence that a politician should have, and his excessive concern about maintaining his clean and thrifty image, he was flustered and confused in responding to the controversy, making the situation worse.
In fact, politicians who care too much of their images to the extend of a little anxious can actually be found everywhere. They do not have enough confidence in their own talents and abilities and have always been caring too much about how the outside world views them. They always need others' recognitions to retrieve their own confidence and abilities. Once there is a slight slip or criticism, they will get worried about losing face, as well as the people's confidence and respect. Therefore, they are panic and get lost in the face of accusations. All they want to do is to run away.
Politicians are facing a personal confidence problem, so do political parties. After suffering a setback in the 2008 general election, the MCA, the Gerakan and the MIC have been caught in a predicament. Since they are not enjoying the real power, they have neither the intention, nor the ability, to make a breakthrough in many issues concerning racial interests. Sometimes they even belittled themselves and challenged others: "Even I can't do it, do you think you can do it?" Also, they might just go round and round in responding to some major issues. For example, they could only deny the "pawning" allegation but not making a promise to set up more Chinese independent schools.
Confidence is a kind of political charisma. How are they going to face the general election if they are not able to show their self-confidence?