It is worrying that certain ministers of the bloated 70-member federal cabinet have a knack for grabbing the headlines for the wrong reason.
In particular, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun recently caught the attention of the media and social media users when she acted as a Food Panda delivery rider in her Hari Raya advertisement.
In this video clip on Facebook, Rina was seen delivering foodstuff to a mother who pined for her grown-up children, who couldn’t balik kampung (return home) for this year’s Hari Raya because of the movement control order that had been enforced nationwide.
Rina’s dialogue in the seven-minute-12-second clip was limited to conveying the importance of strengthening the family bond through advanced communications technologies, such as Zoom, despite the lockdown and physical distance.
She also slipped in a message to the viewers about the hard life of a delivery rider who had to work even on Hari Raya. A commenter was not amused, remarking snidely she should remain a delivery rider.
The Titiwangsa MP clearly had gone beyond the simple Hari Raya video presentation that other politicians used to do in extending their Raya greetings – which made some social media users rightly wonder whether her talent would be better harnessed in acting rather than in the struggle to be an effective minister.
A few politicians had also called on Rina to get her act together. This felt that she, for example, had not thrown her weight behind schoolgirl Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam, who recently revealed the lewd jokes cracked in class by a teacher and, subsequently, a rape threat from her classmate.
The serious issue of sexual harassment and misogyny seemed to have flown over Rina’s head.
Indeed, there are other pressing issues that demand her attention and action, given her ministerial portfolio. For example, we would expect her to be supportive of the wife and children of Amri Che Mat, who was abducted in Perlis. This is the fifth Hari Raya they celebrated without him. They suffer from a lingering pain arising from having lost contact with a beloved husband and father after being snatched away from them in broad daylight. Worse, it is grievous suffering not being able to have closure. Not knowing whether he is still alive or dead may send family members on an emotional rollercoaster of hope and despair. It is sheer mental torture. This incident may affect the family financially, which would only aggravate the situation they are in. The family rightly seeks closure from the authorities because being left in a limbo obviously can be so unbearable. It is here that Rina, the minister, could play a significant role in taking an initiative to help alleviate their suffering.
Similar assistance could also be extended to the family of Pastor Raymond Koh, also abducted in 2017.
To be sure, Rina is no stranger to controversies. Last February, she flaunted her newfound svelte figure on social media while ordinary Malaysians were being affected by the Covid menace – and she got brickbats as a result.
In March last year, her ministry put up a few controversial posters on its websites, one of which advised homemakers to always look appealing to their husbands. Another poster urged them to avoid nagging their spouses, but instead humour them with a Doraemon-like voice.
Rina needs to focus on her full ministerial job. Otherwise, she might be mistaken for an ‘acting’ women, family and community development minister. – The Malaysian Insight