Pakatan Harapan and its communication strategy ....

Recently at an event that he was officiating, Lim Guan Eng was commenting, that back in the day if you wanted to read bad stuff about Malaysia you read the Singapore newspapers and vice versa. These days that is not the case anymore as everyday you can see the new Government getting its fair share of bad press.

Overnight after winning the elections, the new government seems to have lost or forgotten the art of communications. They have also learned the hard way that social media is a double edged sword. The complete dominance of the digital realm pre elections has now given way to total loss of voice on social media. Of course it doesn't help that there are daily missteps and confusing statements by the new ministers to add to the confusion.

This brings me to the question of what has gone wrong and why is the new government failing miserably in the art of communicating with the rakyat. I mean the bar has been set so low with the previous government that you would think it doesn't actually take that much to have a clear communication guideline and get your ministers and spokespersons to adhere to it. Yet daily we see Ministers, their aides shooting from the hip and then backtracking profusely when it blows up on social media.

With the abundance of seasoned media personnel currently out there by virtue of retiring or taking the VSS packages it's baffling to me that certain ministers have decided to hire from within the party for media roles for said ministries. This invariably leads to media gaffes that eventually will lead to the erosion of support from the base.

What is the point of doing all the good work if it's not communicated properly and instead allowing your political opponents to shape the narrative and by default take the lead in communications to the rakyat?

Loads of issues have not been handled or communicated properly from ICERD, ECRL, Tolls and the congestion charge and now a flying car. In the meantime we have inexperienced media officers accusing RTM of "sabotage", while the rakyer sits and wonders what is going on?

Firstly, all Ministers need to be on the same page.. Next, please hire experienced media people to run your ministry's' media platform and not some crony from within the party who has no media credentials, as this will only further embarrass the ministry in the future.

The majority of the rakyat do want to see the new Government work and do well so please tap in to the myriad of talent out there who are willing to help. Otherwise there will be no difference between "Old" and "New" Malaysia


Written by Gogulan Dorairajoo, CEO of Rantau Golin

BFM Statement Lacks Emotional Conviction

In respect of the allegations of sexual harassment, two employees 
have been served termination letters for misconduct. The Board has 
determined that there is sufficient evidence to warrant this course 
of action


On Monday, January 7th, 2019, 36 days after announcing that it had begun formal investigations into sexual misconducts by several senior employees as alleged in an anonymous email, BFM issued a third statement into the matter stating that it had sacked two persons based on "sufficient evidence to warrant this course of action". The popular radio station also explained that it did not make a police report of a separately alleged rape incident "as the complainant did not wish to escalate the matter at the time".

BFM's communication process throughout this entire scandal is mostly on point and checks almost all the boxes I personally look at in a crisis. In fact, I wrote about the five key considerations in crisis communications, in early 2018, with regards to the Facebook - Cambridge Analytica issue, which I have linked here.

So here is my dissection of BFM's communications based on my five points, :

  1. As soon as it became aware of the anonymous email, BFM immediately spoke with its employees and followed this with a public statement. It even cleverly took to social media.
  2. BFM did not deny that there was any truth to the sexual misconduct allegations and instead announced that it had initiated an independent investigation into the matter.
  3. The station was quick to act and fast to make a stand before the email was publicly made known by the media thus taking ownership of the situation.
  4. BFM has indicated how it plans to tackle this issue moving forward and even mentions a timeline.

I read the latest statement that appeared to say all the right things, yet strangely, I felt unmoved by what was said. It took me three reads before I realised why. The statement was lacking the one crucial element that I personally find important when communicating in a crisis and that is the emotional conviction by the management, led by Malek Ali. All I read, was a whisper of an apology.

The gravity of the issue surely demands stronger words than

The BFM management team acknowledges that more could have been done to proactively gather evidence so that such misconduct could have been addressed in a more timely manner.

Perhaps I am simple-minded, but I would have greater respect for BFM's management and its commitment to this matter if they simply said "we are sorry" or "we take full responsibility". After all, none of the harassment or rape issues would have come to light if that damning email had not been sent to the various media and the only reason BFM has sacked its star performers is because all eyes are on them, and management delivered the pound of flesh demanded of them.

So, despite having played the crisis card well, I am left disappointed. At this juncture where the organisation's morale and reputation are at an all-time low, there is little to lose by being the bigger person in recognising that as management, the fault is largely on you for your failure to curb such transgressions and ensuring non-gender fairness and safety at your workplace.

All is not lost though, and statements are merely words.

BFM's next actions in putting in place a zero tolerance policy, as it claims, against sexual misconduct will be watched by many quarters, and how the management embraces and enforces such policies in its growing workplace will speak for its true emotional conviction on this matter. Has everything that has come to pass merely been BFM's commendable reaction to a crisis or will it use this opportunity to turn the organisation around and show the rest of us, how to be better as employers.

In the meantime and for many years to come, BFM's handling of this scandal will be widely discussed, debated and dissected by practitioners of PR, HR and compliance.

Written by Janitha Sukumaran, Founder of Rantau Golin