The newly appointed ninth Malaysian Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, is under fire after photos emerged of a billboard erected in a disaster-hit area welcoming and congratulating him on his premiership.
The criticism over the billboard in Kuala Muda, one of several areas hit by recent floods, came from social media users, including popular standup comedian Harith Iskander.
“I wonder how I would feel if I went to an area struck by a natural disaster and saw my face plastered on a billboard that had been erected to ‘welcome’ me,” Harith said on his Facebook page.
“I am 100% convinced the PM did not ‘ask for it’ – nobody in their right mind would – but we need to look at the culture and system that results in this waste of public funds (not to mention lack of taste).”
Harith also said that the system and mentality that allowed such incidents to happen has to change and that it will take a “whole cultural shift” to do so.
Ismail and his large convoy had on his first day of work visited areas including the Tupah bridge, Taman Lembah Merbok and the Tupah water treatment plant after they were affected by floods brought on by a water surge in Gunung Jerai on Wednesday.
One Malaysian who took a jab at the billboard online was someone named Ushar Daniele, who said: “This is a disaster area and someone erected a billboard welcoming and congratulating the 9th PM. What the actual f**k?”
Commenting on a lavishly draped canopy for the prime minister’s visit there, Twitter user ChekMad said: “Don’t forget the full draped canopy c/w decorative plant pots for the disaster information center *Relieved face emoji*,” attaching with the tweet was a screenshot of the prime minister under the canopy with the caption “the prime minister giving a briefing regarding the flood in Tupah, Merbok, Kedah.”
“Y’all don’t understand – the billboard is a message that life under this guy is going to be a disaster,” another said.
The floods have claimed five victims so far, while one person is still missing. About 800 houses in Yan and another 200 in Kuala Muda were also affected by the disaster.