Friday, April 23, 2010

Kamalanathan, are you for real or what - a public relations man that is

Being a marketing consultant myself in which public relations is one of my practices, I thought I should mention something about Kamalanathan's reaction towards the press which is really appalling being a practitioner himself.

Here are some observations made, but before coming to that, let's see what Wikipedia has to say about the subject -

Public relations (or PR) is a field concerned with maintaining public image for high-profile people, organisations, or programs. Public relations concerns professions working in public message shaping for the functions of communication, community relations, crisis management, customer relations, employee relations, government affairs, industry relations, investor relations, media relations, mediation, publicity, speech-writing and visitor relations. Others define is as the practice of managing communication between and organisation and is publics. Public relations provides an organisation or individual exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that provide a third-party endorsement and do not direct payment. Common activities include speaking at conferences, working with the media, crisis communication, social media engagement, and employee communication. It is something that is not tangible; this is what sets it apart from advertising.

PR can be used to build rapport with employees, customers, investors, voters, or the general public. Almost any organisation that has a stake in how it is portrayed in the public arena employs some level of public relations.

Public relations professionals must know how to write clearly, speak clearly, and think analytically. These skills are necessary because in the field of PR there is constant communication between professionals and their publics. PR professionals also have to think critically so that they can come up with resolutions to problems their clients may face.

Now let's have a look at how Kamalanathan reacted to the media -

BN candidate for the Hulu Selangor by-election P Kamalanathan has put his public relations skills to work by avoiding giving straight answers to questions involving statements that he had made earlier.

"My focus is Hulu Selangor. My focus is the voters in Hulu Selangor. And my focus is to win the election," he said repeatedly when asked to elaborate on some of his controversial remarks.

"I will answer all these questions after the by-election," he told
Malaysiakini yesterday while campaigning in Batang Kali.

Ask whether he would follow Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's example in putting his race first, he said:

"I'm Malaysian. I don't want to say anything more," he said.

He was also quizzed on his
'Hindraf is not a factor' statement, which he quickly brushed aside.

"I have already explained. I am not going to go into it again."

Kamalanathan also kept mum when asked whether he considered relevant some of claims contained in Hindraf's 18-point manifesto such as the need for a ethnic relations act, to convert all Tamil schools into fully government-funded schools, and reserving 20 percent of jobs in the public sector for Indians.

Perkasa's 97 percent claim

He was also asked whether he would endorsed Perkasa's aim to reserve 97 percent of the economic cake to the Malays.

"I have already explained, no further comment," he said.

The BN was pressed on why Indian Malaysians continued to be marginalised despite MIC being part of the ruling coalition for over half a century.

"This is a hard question. You should have put it in writing and given it to me earlier so that I could do some research before I could answer it," replied Kamalanathan.

When told that as the MIC information chief, he should have ready answers to such questions, he said: "I have been the information chief only for less than a year."

Kamalanathan was then referred to the MAPEN Report 1991 (National Economic Consultative Council), which had recommended, amongst others:

1. Pre-schools in estates.

2. Conversion of all partially-aided Tamil schools into fully-aided government schools.

3. Provision of assistance to setting up of a commercial bank and an insurance company.

4. Creation of a trust fund to enable Indians to invest in share markets.

5. Creation of a special scholarship fund to enable Indian students to acquire higher education in foreign countries.

6. Introduction of "affirmative action" similar to the affirmative action that is implemented for bumiputeras.

He was asked why MIC had not pressed the BN government to implement all these recommendations.

Kamalanathan hesitated, and then said he would have to look at it.

Short answers

The BN candidate was told that one of the biggest problem facing the Indians is employment opportunity.

For example, in 1971, before the implementation of New Economic Policy, there were 14.4 percent Indians in the public service. Now, they represent only 4 percent.

"It is going up," said Kamalanathan, without elaborating.

Similarly, according to the 9th Malaysia Plan, the development allocation for Chinese and Tamil primary schools is RM174.3 million and RM64.8 million respectively, while the allocation for national schools is RM4.8 billion.

Given on the basis of per student per month, national schools have RM33.30; Chinese schools RM4.50; Tamil schools, RM10.55. Why the discrimination, the MIC candidate was asked.

Kamalanathan's answer was again typically short. "More Tamil schools are being built," he said.

When he was pressed further to answer a number of other questions. Kamalanathan finally gave up.

"I will answer all these questions after the election," he said.


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