Communicate better: A 2019 resolution for all politicians, maybe?

Communicate better: A 2019 resolution for all politicians, maybe?
Malaysia Baharu promises better freedom of speech where the public can actively communicate with politicians, ministers and government officials.
KUALA LUMPUR: In the era of Malaysia Baharu, the public communication paradigm has drifted from the previous one-way socialisation to a more interactive one.

Malaysia Baharu promises better freedom of speech where the public can actively communicate with politicians, ministers and government officials.

It is also at this actual time where proper communications strategy from the government is more vital than ever.

However, according to Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Ong Kian Ming, ministers often get too caught up within their respective ministries and Government 'bubble'.

"They forget that the rest of the Malaysians are not aware or do not care much about most of what we do within our own Ministries.

"Not everything can and should be put out for public consumption," Ong said in a personal writing of his own resolutions for the new year.

Having said that, these are the, for the lack of a better word, ‘problems’ with the government/leaders' communications which I have personally come to notice and encounter throughout my year-long stint in journalism.

Answering too quickly! Whoops… Stop before you spew
It is evident that most politicians, in general, do not answer questions properly.

Or, they don't answer questions – a fact that has been long-established and so easily observed.

But when they do, they sometimes answer too quickly. Almost coming off as though they haven't put a thought into it, resulting to rue this impetuous decision.

When you answer off the cuff, with no substantive backing, the odds are that sooner or later they will come back to you.

Bear in mind, news travel faster than the speed of light.

Answering using emotions! Keep your cool, Hulk.

Being able to stay calm when being asked difficult questions is important.

There is really no need for politicians to raise their voices. After all, we (journalists) are only raising the rakyat's concern.

Contrary to what many who don't seem to notice, especially those who are often in the public limelight, once your emotions and words are out of your mouth, no amount of "sorry" will put them back in.

Rest assured, someone, somewhere had all your pent up emotions recorded, tweeted or taped.

With a single click on Google search, the whole 'performance' is up and it would stay on the internet for a long, long time.

Blaming the media for ‘misinterpreting’ or ‘misquoting’

It seems that the first step to becoming a politician is... when things go wrong, blame the media.

It's really interesting to see that it has become quite the norm for politicians to put the blame on the media when their words or comments received backlash, which usually stir angry responses from those who hear about it.

It would either be a case where they claim that they have been 'misinterpreted' or 'misquoted'.

But dear MPs, politicians and ministers, should you not have opened your mouth in a rather thoughtless manner, there would have not been a 'misquote' in the first place.

So please, don't point your finger at us. Own up to the blunder that you have made, admit your mistakes and move on.

Like the saying goes, "Every time you point a finger in scorn, there are three remaining fingers pointing back at you."

I concur with Dr Ong's statement: "These days, with the proliferation of news sources and various channels of news consumption, the need for a proper communications strategy is more important than before."

"The right message has to be tailored to the most suitable platform whether it is the traditional print media, television, radio or social media.

"Infographics are often helpful where words are figures fall short."

With the New Year looming, I leave it to you, my fellow Malaysians, politicians and aspiring leaders, to take this in and ponder about what could be further improved for the interest of the rakyat and Malaysia in 2019.

Isabelle Leong is a journalist, not a spinner, for Astro AWANI and believes news reporting should be done as is. She can be reached at

Views expressed here are strictly of the author's and does not necessarily reflect Astro AWANI's.


Tag: politicians, Ong Kian Ming, resolutions, New Year, problems, mistakes, media, Malaysia Baharu

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