In a recent viral video, outspoken former minister Rafidah Aziz lashed out at the hefty pay hikes for the board members of FGV Holdings Berhad.
It is obscene that an agency entrusted with the people’s money failed to consider the soaring costs of living and the hardships faced by many ordinary people. (FGV has since issued a clarification.)
Rafidah also suggested that cabinet ministers’ pay be slashed by 20%.
In trying to rebut Rafidah’s views, Rural Development Minister Mahdzir Khalid seemed unable to grasp what she was trying to say and “whether she really meant it or was just being sarcastic”.
Insinuating that the pay cut proposal was not practical, the minister suggested that, as a veteran, Rafidah should “tell him her ideas to help the people”.
Sadly, Mahdzir has not only lost his plot but appears completely out of touch with public opinion and the realities on the ground.
The minister’s claims that he and his colleagues were doing much to tackle the rising cost of living, which is threatening to slide the nation into a recession, only shows he has failed to grasp the wisdom of political public relations and the meaning behind Rafidah’s suggestions.
He seemed unable to fathom the public backlash to hikes in perks and pay at a time when so many ordinary people are struggling to make ends meet.
It was also ludicrous that Mahdzir asked the public to give the government ideas on how to overcome these crises. Why would he expect the people to do that when he and his cabinet colleagues are already being paid such high salaries to do just that?
If only he had kept abreast and responded to the many ideas on how to tackle rising costs and the disruptions to the food and supply chain that experts and netizens (including me) had aired in the media, even as early as at the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Against the people’s growing awareness of a culture of corruption, Mahdzir should have seen the wisdom in Rafidah’s words for ministers’ pay and perks to be cut.
Not only was he unable to understand her wise words, he was clearly so short of ideas himself that he had to invite the public to give solutions.
It is indeed a sad day for unelected Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob when his ministers do more damage than damage control.