Give Tourism Minister Tiong a break, OK?

IN A video making the rounds on social media, Tourism, Culture and Arts Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing is seen making merry at an undated (non-official) function.

The one-minute 57 seconds video was initially shared by Raggie Jessy Rithaudeen (founder of The Third Force portal) on X (formerly Twitter) prior to it being re-posted by former education minister Mazlee Malik.

Raggie had pointed out that though the Bintulu MP’s action is not illegal, it is embarrassing. He stated: “Tahniah Malaysia. … Bukan salah dari sudut undang-undang tapi menyedihkan dan memalukan.” (Congrats Malaysia. … Nothing wrong from the legal standpoint but saddening and embarrassing).

The insinuation is clear – the Ministry is being led by a drunkard who is not fit for office and this is the sort of behaviour the unity government condones. That it was undignified and unbecoming for a person holding public office.

But several things need to be pointed out:

Firstly, anyone watching the video will note that Tiong is NOT seen drinking or even holding an alcoholic drink. To assume that he is inebriated – while this is quite possible and probable – remains pure conjecture.

Secondly, it would appear from the backdrop that the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) bigwig was not attending a typical official function but merely a guest-of-honour at a closely-knitted community event (lantern festival) in his constituency.

Thirdly, by watching the video, one can see that the Minister was cajoled by guests to show off his dance moves which, unfortunately, he does.

As embarrassing as Tiong’s dancing may be, it must be remembered that having such a good time is very much par for the course in East Malaysia. It could be argued this was the Minister’s attempt at showing that he is a man of the people.

It was his way of connecting with his constituents, especially those with a penchant for a tipple and a spot of bad dancing.

Of course, the public have the right to demand better decorum from a member of the cabinet. Surely, he should know in the age of the mobile phone video, every action is a social media post that can potentially go viral.

He can also be criticised for exercising a lack of judgement. But that is all.

It is nowhere near as embarrassing as having a former premier languishing in jail for siphoning off billions of ringgit from a state sovereign fund. Nor is that anywhere near as bad than having police top brass openly question the sources of wealth of many in the force.

Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department (JSJ) director Comm Datuk Seri Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain had asked how low-ranking police officers could afford to own luxury vehicles. Such conspicuous and flagrant display of ill-gotten gains is embarrassing yet it is seemingly accepted as part and parcel of Malaysian life.

Tiong’s lack of judgement in the video is lamentable but it does not deserve to be turned into anything more than a display of poor, nay, make that terrible, dancing from a middle aged man.

Perhaps he should offer to repeat this performance in Langkawi, wearing a pair of shorts no less, in attempt to dispel rumours and woo tourists. – Oct 12, 2023

Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE