If you tell a politician about a problem which is faced by society, you will get his attention for the few seconds, and the issue is then buried for ever.
You could speak to the media, about the same issue, but you would probably find the police investigating you, and charging you with breaking the Official Secrets Act (OSA). The ordinary man who goes to jail, is soon forgotten.
On the other hand, if the same issues are made public by a celebrity, the nation is abuzz with her views. If the artiste were to be arrested, the extra publicity would create a snowball effect. The bad press puts politicians in a negative light.
One of Malaysia’s best loved singers, the Malaysian Queen of Jazz, Sheila Majid, who burst onto the pop scene in the 80s and captivated millions of Malaysians with her jazzy renditions, is not one for mincing her words.
When she sings, we are mesmerised. She wowed the crowds in Japan, played to a packed audience of the Royal Theatre in London’s West End, and was the first local performer at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas.
Her forte is in her singing, but her normal voice, is just as powerful, if not more potent.
On 5 December, she tweeted about the high cost of living, the expensive food, the weak ringgit, and the scarcity of jobs. She said, “Malaysians are becoming tired & angry for being squeezed over debts we did not create.
“Stop making excuses & looking for faults. Focus on the job of getting our country back on track! Disappointing!”
She is right. The extent to which her views have penetrated the public can be gauged from the bad mouthing by Umno-Baru politicians, political aides and pro-Umno-Baru artistes.
Why attack Sheila? She is only the messenger? The truth hurts obviously.
Malaysians have been complaining about the high cost of living and other issues, for decades. If a celebrity picks up the mantle, the issue makes the headlines. What Sheila did is right. It is the responses of her critics which make them look ridiculous.
Azwan and Rizal are classic examples of “You help me, I help you”
TV host, Azwan Ali claimed to have been shocked at Sheila’s tweets on the high cost of living, and told her to “Go to hell!
He said, “Her whining will spoil the new generation. You are a major artiste. Successful. Has (sic) a Datuk title. Rich. You have millions of followers.
“Is this not because of the government? Go to hell!”
Azwan is both insulting and pathetic. Sheila’s rise to the top of her profession was through her own hard work and the guidance from her father, a man she much admired. He was an academic who valued education and languages. Like most Malay families, in her childhood, religion was important but so was a multi-racial existence and open minded upbringing.
Rizal Mansor, who is an aide to the prime minister’s wife, reprimanded her for complaining about the high cost of living, and he accused her of becoming a “propaganda tool for the opposition”. He said, “Yes, you are a national jazz queen and considered a legend by fans, but how could they afford to buy the concert tickets priced up to RM888 if the country’s economy is really so bad.”
He had the effrontery to remind her that it was BN which enabled her to lead a comfortable and luxurious life and that she should be grateful to them, for inviting her to sing at corporate events.
When Sheila highlighted the various issues, she was trying to get politicians to address the many problems which affect the rakyat.
Perhaps, Rizal should approach the marketing and events company which manage various concerts. They set the prices. Only a small percentage of the population can afford to attend concerts, but everyone has to buy food, take public transport or drive, to go to work and to contribute towards the nation.
People like Rizal and Azwan forget that politicians were elected to serve the rakyat.