A REALLY long time ago Kuala Lumpur city hall was rocked asunder by a media Volvo vendetta. Looks like we have we not moved many notches beyond the state of envy as Kelantan’s acquisition of the S-Class Mercedes for its Menteri besar and exco members may – or may not steer the state government in a similar cul-de-sac.
Meanwhile, the winds of change may not exactly be blowing the House of Windsor down but the rose bushes are definitely swaying by hurricane Meghan.
Let’s stay at home for starters – road users in Kota Bharu, Kelate, as the locals would call their state with plenty of parochial pride will be forgiven if they cast a furtive glance each time a spanking brand new S-Class Mercedes overtakes them – after having its path ahead cleared with or without the obligatory outrider escort.
The Merc move came hot on the heels after the Federal government was roundly derided by the opposition for so much as thinking out aloud – to replace ministers’ official cars from the local Perdana to the more roomy Toyota Vellfires.
The smoke signal was sent out back in December but only when the new year dawned that public ire was fanned. At a time when many in the low and mid-income range are finding it so hard to make ends meet, any form of largesse will no doubt attract backlash.
In the event, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng doused the flames of dissent by dialing back the decision – and government ministers will make do with the humble Perdana.
So it is with a huge dollop of disdain that the Kelantan government announcement that the Menteri Besar now drives a Sonderklasse with a sticker price of RM…and that other exco members also get the 3-pointed star treatment was greeted. Much incredulity ensued as Kelantan is not exactly known as the land of material prosperity – it being rated a very poor state indeed.
Back to the Volvo vendetta – back in 2005 when the local media latched on to City Hall’s inappropriate purchase of Volvo sedans for the use of its Director General as well as its various heads of department, like dogs on a scent, they did not let go until the quarry was cornered. Result? The mayor Tan Sri Elyas Omar paid the price – he resigned.
Kelantan voters from amongst the ranks of Pas supporters are less susceptible to agit prop so are rather more foregiving.
Over in the UK, the huge dose of `sonderklasse’ that Meghan Markle injected into the staid Windsor family firm lasted only for a few fleeting moments.
First there was the wedding in the spring of 2018, then the birth of baby Archie Harrison a year later. The UK media is not the UK media for nothing. The Sun and its cohort of red top tabloids – notorious for the publishing adage - `Print to fit the nudes, and nudes to fit the print’ are nothing if not spoiling for a fight.
In Ms Markle they had their quarry – independent, feminist, dysfunctional family (dad, now irreconcilably estranged), American, commoner, actress, divorcee (she was for two years – Mrs Engelson) and, not one of us (read, black)!
One needs to be true Brit to bestowed with the royal stiff upper lip but not with a combative `foreigner’. A bit like Harry’s mum Princess Diana who just did not fit into the straitlaced, straight-jacketed though gilded existence that is the lot of any royal spouse.
The Queen knew she could not win this one – so she set them free.
So while the Kelantan MB and his band of merry exco cronies travel in the lap of Teutonic luxury; Harry, Meghan and Archie go about their living their life mere commoners – just like you and me!