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Whooping up a riot: Do public servants have the right to par-tey?

By Joel Pablo Salud Published Aug 26, 2022 5:50 pm

I wondered what in the name of all that is good and free was the fuss all about. 

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin partying with friends: where’s the crime in that? Lest we forget, Finland has been at the top spot of the global annual happiness index, winning third in a row in 2020, with Helsinki, Finland’s capital, as “the happiest city in the world”. 

Thus, whooping up a riot, or in more cliché terms, painting the town red, seems to be the order of the day. The Finnish people have all the reason to feel riotously glad, the Prime Minister not the exception, what with a pandemic response that has been highly judged as an example to the world.

Hard work, sans play, makes everyone, including public servants, a dull excuse for world leaders. We don’t want that. Sanna Marin said to the largely harsh response to her partying: "I am human. And I too sometimes long for joy, light and fun amidst these dark clouds," Marin said, holding back her tears. "It's private, it's joy, and it's life, but I haven't missed a single day of work.” 

In support of Sanna Marin, the Guardian reports: “Hundreds of Finnish women have posted social media films of themselves dancing and partying in­ support of the prime minister Sanna Marin after she became embroiled in a scandal when video emerged of her dancing at a private house party. 

“Film memes of the women dancing and enjoying themselves with friends posted with the hashtag solidarity with Sanna emerged after the prime minister faced criticism of her behaviour when two videos appeared in which she sings and dances at a party with friends and another enjoying herself in a private VIP room of a well-known club in Helsinki.” 

Sanna Marin is one of the youngest prime ministers every to occupy the seat. So, labeling the dancing and partying “inappropriate” by some conservatives and self-appointed gatekeepers of morality may be stretching the political dragooning way too far. We’ve all partied way before bedtime and even further up what is considered appropriate at one time or the other.  

I find the demand for Sanna Marin to undergo a drug test as overreaching for what is not there, if not altogether insulting, for the young prime minister. This is where far-right groups have been proven far too wrong. 

Apparently, in most countries, there’s a very thin line that separates private life from public office. The “hedonistic” nature of “Bacchanalian” gatherings may be to blame. And political rivals will make sure that they crumple, stretch, and crush you to smithereens if they find you dancing on the “wrong” side of state functions.  

This is nothing new. The Salem witch hunts would’ve burned Sanna Marin at the stake. 

The Finnish prime minister seems to have been good at her job, giving her people more than sufficient elbowroom to take much needed breaks from the daily battles of fighting off the pandemic. This is really more than I can say for some countries, the Philippines included. 

The Sanna Marin case brings to mind Pres. Bongbong Marcos’ victory party shortly after winning the 2022 presidential elections, and much earlier, the mañanita of former Philippine National Police chief Debold Sinas. Online vitriol was the very least they deserved from critics, given that the country has been reeling from one serious problem after the other.  

As for Sanna Marin, Finland’s hardworking prime minister deserves a break. A few shots of tequila won’t hurt. Imagine elections, and the only choices we have for leaders are squarish people whose sense of fun and excitement and humor are no better than deadwood. Might as well subscribe to online mukbang videos for laughs. 

This also brings me to questions I’ve been meaning to ask.  

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: I’ve always wondered why the last one, the pursuit of happiness, was left out of our Constitution. Too “American” for their little brown brothers? Are Caucasians the only ones deserving of satisfaction and glee?  

The after-work socials are the “spiritual” equivalent of a good pat on the back. It’s only fair, in my modest estimation, that people find time in the company of friends or family for that specific purpose. It boosts morale, and for what it’s worth in inspiration, reenergizes the individual for that uphill climb the following day.

We can own freedom of speech, expression, and of the press (even these are debatable) but never once should we pursue our own happiness? Isn’t the Philippines a happy nation, the “bayang magiliw” of the Orient? If my reading of Antonio Pigafetta’s voyages of Portuguese explorer Fernando Magallanes (Ferdinand Magellan) is accurate, I’d say Filipinos love to par-tey. 

That’s besides killing conquistadores. But hell, they had it coming. 

This hauls us all back to the question: do public officials have the right to party? 

Of course, they do. But, there is a bit of proviso for public servants: priorities first and foremost.  

The workaday Filipino already loves spending night-outs with friends after a hard day’s work. And by hard-day’s work, I mean treating one’s responsibilities as priorities, no ifs or buts. 

The after-work socials are the “spiritual” equivalent of a good pat on the back. It’s only fair, in my modest estimation, that people find time in the company of friends or family for that specific purpose. It boosts morale, and for what it’s worth in inspiration, reenergizes the individual for that uphill climb the following day. 

Sanna Marin is doing a pretty good job at putting Finland on the map of nations who have done well regardless of the threat of contagion. She deserves to dance the night away. 

As for some Philippine officials and all the rest of the local Bacchic hordes, priorities first please.