JD Lovrenciear reflects on the “VVIP” culture which he says usually diverts media attention away from the work of the organisation.
At the Malaysiakini 20th anniversary dinner in Kuala Lumpur recently, many VVIPs – noted politicians and party leaders – were present among the 1,000 guests.
But what was striking was no VVIP or ‘guest of honour’ was on stage to deliver the maiden speech to mark the event. Instead, it was the CEO and the chief editor who delivered the speeches.
We could learn some lessons from this.
The widespread culture of having a noted politician or VVIP to grace our events must stop. It is a fallacy to believe that having a key politician to grace your event would draw a crowd.
This Malaysian culture of lapping up to VVIPs is actually a disservice. You end up with just a one-line mention about your event in the media; chances are, journalists will ride on your event to scoop some political news out of the VVIP present.
Events like Malaysiakini’s 20th anniversary celebration deserve the leaders in the organisation to address the guests present. It is more graceful and honourable to have your organisation’s leader officiate and address the audience.
Courting politicians at official events would amount to organisers admitting they cannot shine on their own merits and achievements.
Malaysiakini has in no uncertain terms lived up to its credo of being an independent voice that is not subservient to the establishment – and it showed this by not having a VVIP personality speaking on its behalf on stage.
We should abandon this Malaysian culture of needing a VVIP to grace most organisational events – be it an anniversary celebration, a product launch or a conference. We need to grow out of this feudal mindset and stand tall on the merits of the organisation driving the event.
This would serve as a lesson to politicians that their own high office and accomplishments should be enough for them to get into the news.
The media fraternity, for their part, must learn that stalking politicians at such organisational events for unrelated news does a disservice to the organisers of the event.