KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 8 — Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor is providing much fodder for satirists across the Causeway now that a new government is in power in Malaysia.
A video clip of a recent skit in Singapore starring local actors Siti Khalijah Zainal as the wife of former Malaysian prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Ivan Heng as Ho Ching, the spouse to Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong has been posted on the Internet by Singapore Incidents, drawing thousands of views and comment from Hong Kong paper, South China Morning Post (SCMP).
The skit underlined Rosmah’s fall from from the “first lady of Malaysia” since the May 9 general election that dethroned her husband, even as it continued to lampoon her love for luxury handbags, especially those by fashion house Hermes and its Birkin range.
“Before the poll, satirists in Malaysia and neighbouring were extremely cautious about lampooning her,” SCMP said in an article published last night.
The writer said that during Najib’s tenure in office from 2009 to May this year, the Barisan Nasional government brooked little tolerance for political satire, adding that Singaporean comedians were forced to issue official apologies for making fun of him Malaysian cartoonists were arrested for satirising the former leader and his wife.
According to SCMP, there was no fear of such reprisal in the skit by Khalijah and Heng who were performing at a fundraising dinner for the local theatre company Wild Rice.
Rosmah, who has been charged with 17 money laundering offences and faces jail time if she is found guilty, was the butt of jokes – with Khalijah satirising everything from the 66-year-old’s purported penchant for Botox and her love of Hermes Birkin bags costing over US$100,000 (RM415,200) each.
When Khalijah as Rosmah first appeared on stage, she was asked why she was carting so many of her favourite brand handbags and even a suitcase with her.
“Because if you carry five Birkin bags at the same time, no one would ever think they are real,” she replied.
Later on in the skit, she remarked on her life after the raid and seizure of the bags.
“It’s been difficult without my other 295 Birkin bags. But you know what? They can raid my house, they can take away my bags, my diamonds, my husband, but they cannot take away from me my Botox, my implants, my face lift, and my fillers.”
She then asks Heng acting as Ho to take care of her five Birkin bags if she is imprisoned. The reason?
“Because it’s very safe with you. Nobody would ever think you would buy a Birkin bag,” was the explanation. The Singapore prime minister’s wife is well-known for being frugal and takes pride in being efficient.
Hundreds of luxury handbags were seized from Rosmah and Najib’s house in May as part of anti-graft investigations into the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad financial theft scandal.
Ho, who is also the chief executive of Singapore’s state investment company Temasek Holdings, was also mocked .
In the skit, Heng dressed in a blue blouse and pink silk pants similar to an outfit Ho had worn when she accompanied her husband when he called on prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad soon after the May 9 general election that catapulted Pakatan Harapan to power.
She was criticised by some fashion-conscious Singaporean online for wearing “pyjamas” to a high-level meeting between heads of governments.
But Heng as Ho defended the choice attire.
“Blue is my favourite colour, and pink is my husband’s favourite colour.”
Rosmah and Ho publicly appeared to have an amicable relationship during Najib’s time in power.
Lee and Najib, too, forged strong personal ties — a key reason cited by observers for the decade-long uptick in bilateral ties between Singapore and Malaysia during that period.