So much for a “honeymoon” period. From a delayed Cabinet announcement to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s unabashed Erdogan fanboying, there has been more than enough happening to ensure slow news days won’t happen for a while.

It is interesting how vocal supporters of the current government and the detractors are being. Of course it is a good thing that people are a lot less afraid to criticise bad calls — such as the recent proposal to ban all foreign cooks.

We have to understand the weight of expectations the new government has to deal with so rushed moves, improperly thought-through statements and backtracking is going to be the norm for a while.

Yet the overblown reaction to Lim Guan Eng’s multi-language press statements is telling. The nationalists, who have been noisy during the previous administration, have no intention of backing down and language seems to be a hot button topic (as I found out recently).

It’s going to be the way of things for at least the rest of the year. Everything the new government does will be examined, re-examined and seen in different lights, depending on where you’re squinting.

At least it’s bringing to the fore the ugliness of certain sentiments — the people who are still unhappy with the appointment of minorities to positions of prominence and the thinly-veiled attempts at trying to assuage that demographic. Race and religion are still hot button topics and we will have to deal with that reality.

Yet what is currently at the forefront of my mind is Anwar and his deputy prime minister wife Datin Seri Wan Azizah.

The new government seems to be doing little to address the current perception that our deputy prime minister is nothing but a seat warmer, a proxy too preoccupied with the welfare of her husband to understand the weight of her role.

It doesn’t help that Anwar is making overseas trips to visit a man whom Vladimir Putin lauds. You never want to be seen openly lavishing praise on someone Putin vouches for but I suppose no one sent Anwar the memo.

As for Wan Azizah, her reaction when pressed on the Siti Kasim incident was telling — saying she would leave it to the police and that she was too preoccupied with Anwar’s health issues.

“See, this is why we can’t promote married women — they won’t ever prioritise their career.” You can just hear employers countrywide saying this.

Free PR tip: next time you are asked a question by the media but you are pre-occupied, just say, “I need to learn more about the situation, I will get back to you later.” Then go back to whatever you were busy with.

At the very least, the new government might need to coach its reps on the proper reaction to events. Am sure many PR companies will be happy to organise media training sessions and coaching. Just don’t let the government persuade you to do it for free — we are not that poor, please.

Here’s to interesting times and people in the government upping their public relations game.

* Written by Erna Mahyuni. This is the personal opinion of the columnist.


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