Advertising or propaganda? A reply to Ahmad Maslan

By Medecci Lineil

I would like to refer to The Malaysian Insider article “RM17 million allocated for GST info campaigns, says deputy minister” on March 19, 2014.

Is the RM17 million for GST advertising or propaganda? Because that is an enormous amount of money to spend to force people paying the tax. The evil of taxes like GST confirmed my suspicions that politicians truly despise the people they purport to represent.

If you think carefully about the GST advertising or any kind of government advertising across the country, you can only see one purpose that conformed to which the government and politician insist the private businesses must obey. If you don’t comply – you go out of business; you are humiliated, demoralised or even penalised.

No market feedback mechanism is in operation and yet in GST context a “NO” answer is not an option. Why? You cannot test or reject it, not a chance. Unlike market advertising, you can test Clear shampoo for a while and you determine whether you want to continue to buy it or not.

The government has a very loud voice and big mouth whenever it wants to announce and gamble with other people’s big money for their political projects while 1.4 million government bureaucrats, each one is a propagandist for his government. At the end of the day, the advertising is paid by means of taxes extracted from the people mercilessly.

Other than that, I never have seen government advertising that is decent and clever. Instead, they are full of deceit, with stupid-sounding government policies and nasty put downs of political opponents.

Many commercial advertising like Clear shampoo, Dettol, KFC, Pizza Hut can be funny, beautiful, clever and even informative. But, you never have seen if Clear shampoo with Cristiano Ronaldo as a model ran an advertisement claiming that Rejoice shampoo was processed with rat poison. Consumers don’t like it either.

Because the whole idea of business is to present positive images of their products, and to please customers. To be in a good mood when we buy their things. The businesses wish for us to be even happier after we have made the purchase and have used those products. The advertisement is paid by investors and depends on the voluntary acceptance of the product by the consumers. In short, they are very productive to our economy.

Published in The Malaysian Insider on 9 April 2014.

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