PUTRAJAYA — PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi expressed his disappointment today with the Malaysian media and population in general for not making a big deal about pictures of him caught sleeping, calling it a “gross negligence to capitalise on an obvious opportunity”.
Speaking at a hastily-called press conference last night at his official residence, Abdullah said that there has been a “clear case of discrimination” that borders on tragedy.
“I cannot, for the life of me, believe how the media and the public can make a big deal about one set of photos and be completely ignorant about another,” he said, presumably referring to the recent case of indecent photos of Bukit Lanjan state assemblywoman Elizabeth Wong being circulated on the internet. The photos were taken without her consent while she was sleeping at home.
“I mean, look at the obvious similarities: she was sleeping, I was sleeping. Her pictures were taken without her knowing it, so were mine. Does this seem fair to you?” asked an irrate Abdullah, in between yawns.
“I have given so many opportunities for the paparazzi, both local and foreign, to capture my image while dozing off, some at very inappropriate times and places. Have you seen these shots being posted on TV or being passed around? I haven’t.
“Suddenly, these so-called ‘scandalous’ shots of a newbie politician surface, and the whole town goes crazy. Police reports were made. Allegations of dirty politics abound. I feel slighted,” Abdullah said dejectedly.
When someone pointed out that, perhaps, YB Wong’s case was different because she was a lady, and relatively more attractive, Abdullah snapped.
“What do you mean by that? You think I’m not attractive?” replied Abdullah, struggling to maintain his composure. “Hel-lo, I visit the gym twice a week, oh-kaay? Check out these biceps! And what if she’s a woman, and I’m a man? We both sleep! And we both look GOOD doing it!” added the animated Prime Minister.
“Fine, I’ve heard that she was partially nude in her pictures. But though I wasn’t, I was in public places. On stages! Can she beat that?”
Asked what he and the government plan to do about it, Abdullah said that this issue is next on his reform agenda.
“My Islam Hadhari agenda stipulates fairness in policies and all acts of governance. Right at this very moment, my officers are drafting a bill to be tabled at the current parliamentary sessions, to ensure that all photos and videos covering politicians from both divides are treated equally.
“All I’m looking for is justice. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, woman, old, young… if you’re doing the same thing and photographers take your pictures, then the media must — I repeat, MUST — treat the different cases with the same level of respect and dignity.”
Instructing one of his officers to distribute his snoozing pictures, Abdullah said, “This bill, which I will fight tooth and nail to make into law, will be my legacy.
“Our children, and their children, will know that I’ve made it possible for anyone to be in the spotlight if pictures of them sleeping are taken without their consent,” he ended, before heading off to bed.