This year I resolved not to go to any of the Ramadan Buka Puasa functions. Every year I get invites to all these buka puasa functions in hotels thrown by big corporations and government ministries. Not that I'm anti-social, it's just that the amount of free stuff they give out makes me uncomfortable.
Just a few days ago, one of the minister gave out RM100 duit raya to the press that came to his buka puasa functions. I was there last year at a 5 star hotel in KL. At the end of it as we were leaving, I passed by him to shake his hand and he handed me a green raya packet. I thought it was a little odd, since they only give duit raya to the orphans or kids. So I opened to see if it was the 2 ringgit that they give to kids and I was shocked to find RM100 bucks in it. This year, everyone was looking forward to going to his buka puasa function again, only this time I avoided it like the plague. I don't think any of my colleagues have heard of the term 'payola'. It's one of the first few things one learn in any mass communication class in the American education system. Payola is basically one who pays for favours. Below is an excerpt from what I found in Britannica
By the 1950s listener loyalty to disc jockeys was so firmly established that the
success of any record depended on the preferences of the disc jockey. To solicit
their favour, record companies began to shower the disc jockeys with money,
stocks, or gifts (commonly known as payola). This widespread practice of
commercial bribery was given national exposure by a federal investigation in
In Malaysia, its pretty widespread and a common practice for large organizations to give "door gift's" to the press at functions. From the measly pen to expensive gifts such as portable TV's and handphones. The wierdest gift I got was a bra (it was from a Triumph lingerie fashion show). I have a sizeable collection of free pens and card holders. I draw the line at taking cash. The first time someone ever gave me cash was a few years ago. I covered an assignment in Nilai and me and my crew were the only one there (probably because Nilai was too far away). The guy was so glad he stopped me as we were walking down the hotel to shake my hand. In his handshake, he had a wad of money and slipped it into my hand before I knew what to do and he walked away. I was quite shocked. I counted the money and gave my crew their share but I dropped of the rest of my share in a donation box in the hotel lobby.
I have to say, it's getting harder to say no. I must admit, having kept the money and some valuable items given by people too. However, I still draw the line at going out of the way to ask for anything. I don't expect anything as I already get paid to do my job. I hate it when PR people buy souvenirs, hoping that I'll give them more attention. Shit, I'm not that cheap. If they deserve the attention, they'll get it, regardless of what ever they give me.
I don't expect to hold my colleagues to the same standard, they have a different ethics system and I don't think I'll ever force it on them as they're too used to getting free stuff.
Anyway, today I was at the Ministry of Women's buka puasa function at KL Hilton. It wasn't too extravagant. I when late, after they already buka puasa. I was so sleepy, I when home to take a nap first. They gave us a table up front and we spend most of the time gossiping about work and making fun of our bosses. I saw a few tables away my primary school teacher. She was wearing a green saree. She's with the NCWO now and I didn't quite have the guts to go and say hi to her.
Anyway, another person I bumped into that night was my old pal from college, Idham. We used to be real tight in college but we just lost touch after I when of to the US. I ran into him a few times in Bangsar. He told me he's divorced now and does freelance music arrangements. The dude's one talented keyboard player. He was at the function tonight with a band. The funny thing was, this chick wrote to me at my office e-mail asking me if I remembered her and that Idham had introduced us and when to mamak with her once. She had an interesting name and I asked if her sister had a name like hers too. She asked me how was Idham and true enough, I bumped into him tonight.