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Thursday, June 22, 2017

A meeting of sycophants, bootlickers and apple polishers



As the chairman walked to take his seat at the top of the oval table at their weekly meeting, 35 other provincial, vocational and tribal leaders stood up as a mark of respect. When they sat, all their eyes were on their boss. The agenda on the table was never a reference point and everyone knew it.
His face had a forlorn look and his eyes were red in colour and puffed up. But his greying hair was greased and his dressing was immaculate, thanks to his wife, who always insists on proper grooming and chooses what he wears.
“We are sorry, Sir….,” the man from the Eastern tribe said. “These have been trying days for you and the family. We are aware that you had few sleepless nights over the past few days of those jealous foreigners.”
The chairman nodded and it was the signal for the minders to allow sycophants, bootlickers and apple polishers to have their say.
The man in charge of cars, buses and trucks (CBT) blurted out: “I have already made a statement. My newspaper carried it in big bold letters. My community believed me when I said that the issue has been overly politicised by irresponsible parties in their efforts to overthrow a democratically elected government. This issue ‘willing to work with foreign forces’ resonates with my people,” he said.
The propaganda minister had a smirk on his face when he faced the boss. After all, he took it upon himself to consider that he was the only one to have met his KPI.
“For the past few days, I have been making one statement daily. As I continue to make more bold statements and challenge the might of foreign powers,” he said.
He was speaking the truth. And each day, he had a theme. It was what ad agencies would call a “systematic campaign to ingrain the name of the product in the minds of the consumer.” But he forgot the golden rule - if you have a bad product, no amount of promotion is going to make people buy it.
The young man from Oxbridge sat silently twiddling his thumbs not uttering a word. His big day is not far away. In less than eight weeks, he will unveil a big spectacle which will take people’s minds off what the nation and its leaders are facing.
“My actions will do the talking. For a good two weeks and months thereafter, images of success and glory will occupy the minds of my subjects. The negative will turn to positive,” reminding himself that he should not do the talking - his actions should.
Seated next to him, the Misinformation Minister looked peeved but patiently waited for his turn to speak. “What I have done does not seem enough. I want to do more but I am handicapped. Money has not been forthcoming,” he complained.
“I have not paid the editor who has been ghost-writing my blog. I have used my personal money to appease the others who are on our side. I cannot touch money from the Exchequer because many people are watching. The anti-graft guys are also watching.” There were murmurs of agreement that the money stream has been short-circuited.
Blood, they say, is thicker than water and the family member too wanted to have his say. “I have challenged them. I have asked them to take us to court. If they have the gall or gumption, they would have accepted my challenge.
“They have nothing but I shall save taking out my warrior’s sword for now,” was the best the bespectacled man could say.
‘Doing it the wrong way’
Observing and absorbing the proceedings while doodling on one of the Consultation Papers, was this academician - an intellect in his own right. When he pressed the button on the microphone to speak, there was pin-drop silence. He rarely spoke unless spoken to and everyone knew he had something important to say.
“We are doing it the wrong way. We are using the wrong people and the wrong tools. How can we have failed politicians, discredited community leaders, unemployed and unemployable editors to be speaking on our behalf? Who believes them?
“Their statements continue to be published in media which the people have no faith in! Who watches or believes our local TV stations? Then why waste time, money and effort?
“Surely you don’t expect our citizens to believe that guy in the red shirt who volunteered to wash toilets to be the epitome and embodiment of what we stand for?”
The unhealthy minister, suffering from the Truth Deficiency Syndrome spoke: “Where do we find good people to be on our side? I asked one of my cronies to speak without realising that like many others, my party too received a share of the loot. My predecessor has yet to confirm or deny the allegation.”
Faces of desperation and anxiety were there for all to see. The only one who could do something was the man in charge of governance (good and bad). Could he get someone to spin it in his favour? His connections and tentacles are global but this was a difficult one.
Previously, he wore a bullet-proof vest when the international community came down on the chairman, but this time around, his silence was deafening.
How low could he go by pretending nothing had happened? How could he go on preaching what he is not practising?
“I have a great plan….” he started and got everyone excited. “But to strategise, stage-manage and execute it, we need money - plenty of it. Mr Chairman, Sir, could you authorise me to raise money through some bonds or enter into a JV with foreigners ... I need a couple of billion for the first phase.”
The last words the members heard before rushing to the door were: “Meeting adjourned!”

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
R NADESWARAN is an award-winning veteran journalist who writes on bread and butter issues with one agenda - a better quality of life for all Malaysians irrespective of colour, creed or religion. He can be reached at: citizen.nades22@gmail.com.- Mkini

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