The Internet in Malaysia broke on Tuesday when the public got a hold of the link to the United Nation’s video page showing our Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi addressing the general debate of the 71st Session of the General Assembly of the UN in New York.
Malaysians all took to social media to share the video along with their comments, which were mainly targeted at how bad Zahid’s presentations skills were and especially his poor command of English pronunciation and enunciation.
He was obviously struggling to read the text of his speech on the teleprompter and he appeared to be very nervous. Personally, I found it hard to understand what he was saying without concentrating hard to listen to the words he was saying.
People on social media were merciless. They criticised the senior national leader for not having mastered the English language. They said that he is an embarrassment to the country and that he doesn’t deserve to represent us on the international stage.
Most of the reaction on social media, however, were leaning more towards mocking and making fun of Zahid. They teased him, roasted him and meme’d him. Personally, I found it very funny too – both his presentation and the public’s reaction on social media.
Then there is the other camp that defended Zahid, saying that it doesn’t matter if his English speaking skills are weak. At least he tried. They also accused the other camp of being elitists and arrogant for making fun of his English.
The members of this camp also say that there are so many other national leaders who speak English worse than Zahid, or don’t speak it at all. Well, it would depend on who you want to benchmark with, wouldn’t it?
But here’s the thing though. Do people really think that Zahid is being roasted solely because of his weak English? I think that the cause of this reaction is much deeper. I think that the issue with his English happens to be the catalyst that has opened up the floodgates to make fun of him.