Sunday, April 5, 2009

Your Transition Questions Answered!

WIDE ANGLE – Huzir Sulaiman
[This piece was supposed to appear in the Sunday Star on 5 April 2009 but was spiked by the editors.]

Your transition questions answered!
Disconsolate and perplexed? Overjoyed but curious? Have no fear! Following yet another momentous week in Malaysian politics, Wide Angle responds to readers’ queries.

Dear Wide Angle,

For just over five years I have been analysing data and building new paradigms in order to achieve win-win outcomes for all stakeholders; upskilling and repurposing Government resources and leveraging public-private partnerships for maximum synergy; and meeting key performance indicators for policy buy-in, sell-through, and implementation.

And now I’m out of a job.

What did I do wrong?

DISCARDED, Putrajaya

Dear Discarded,

Even though you may have taken the lift down to the basement car park, where you are loading your things into your car and wiping away your tears, your technocrat’s heart still beats, and your technocrat’s soul still soars high up above, next to the seat of power.

Remember: you can take the boy out of the Fourth Floor, but you can’t take the Fourth Floor out of the boy.

One day – perhaps sooner than you think – you’ll be back. In the meantime, keep active by preparing position papers and memoranda for your friends and family. Everyone loves a thorough policy briefing over breakfast.

Dear Wide Angle,

I am a retired schoolmistress and a great-grandmother of 7 from Australia. I visited Malaysia last year and absolutely fell in love with it. How can I move there and live out my last years in the warmth of your lovely and picturesque country?

SIBYLL WEXFORD, Upper Blessington, Tasmania

Dear Mrs. Wexford,

Thank you for your kind interest in our rapidly developing, harmonious, and prosperous nation.

There is a Government scheme known as “Malaysia, My Second Home” which permits persons such as yourself to retire here.

I suggest, however, that you submit your application as soon as possible. Now that Malaysia has been blacklisted – sorry, I mean honoured – by the OECD as an “uncooperative tax haven”, you will soon have to compete with a large number of Russian oligarchs, Colombian drug lords, and African dictators who will want to settle down amidst our vibrant culture, warm hospitality, and cheerfully lax regulatory environment.

We look forward to welcoming you, your security team, and your suitcases full of cash to our shores.

Dear Wide Angle,

Please help settle an argument with my husband.

If Mr. Abdullah resigned on Thursday morning, and Mr. Najib became PM only on Friday morning, who exactly was your Prime Minister on Thursday afternoon?

I mean, if I had called the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday afternoon and said “Hello, Hillary Clinton here, can I speak to the Malaysian PM, please?” to whom would they have connected me?

My husband thinks it would be Mr. Abdullah, on the grounds that he might still have been in the office, packing his last few things so that a family member could load them into the car in the basement car park. But I think that’s just idle speculation on the part of Bill, because he has too much time on his hands now that I’ve forced him to give up most of his consultancy work.

Anyway, I think it would be Mr. Najib.

Which of us is right?

IRKED, Washington D.C.

Dear Irked,

Both of you are wrong.

If you’d asked to speak to the PM on Thursday afternoon, they would have connected you to Tun Dr. Mahathir. He would have been more than happy to take your call.

Dear Wide Angle,

As editors of local dailies, we are faced with a bit of a problem with regards to the length of our headlines. We need to make sure they are as short, snappy, and economical as possible. Frequently we do this by using abbreviations and nicknames.

For example, Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir becomes “Dr. M”, which is much shorter than “Mahathir”, while Dato’ Seri Abdullah is “Pak Lah”, which is shorter than “Abdullah”.

However, we do not have a short form for Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak. Can you suggest something shorter than “Najib”, which is 5 letters?

LAYOUT, Kuala Lumpur

Dear Layout,

What about NTR?

This would also allow for witty headlines like “NTR makes an eNTRance!”; “an iNTeRview with NTR!”; “NTR on the campaigN TRail!”; “NTR waiting for priNTeR to deliver new cards”; and “NTR NoT Really iNTeRested iN TRuly stupid headlines like these!”

Dear Wide Angle,

I’m bored and listless. I have no real interests and very few opinions about anything. I need a hobby. Any suggestions?

NEED A HOBBY, Pokok Sena

Dear Need A Hobby,

It occurs to me that you might need a hobby.

Have you considered running as an independent candidate in a by-election? All you need is RM5,000 for your deposit, which should be very easy to raise, because Malaysians are a truly kind and generous people.

Running as an independent is the fastest-growing pastime in the country, and you’ll be sure to meet many interesting voters, some of whom may even be real human beings!

Best of luck!