Thursday, 9 August 2012

Really, you can’t make it up

Going The Distance (Selangor Times)
10 August 2012


Rais Yatim should be given a present from people like myself who write current affairs articles.
Just when one is catching one’s breath after laughing so hard at his suggestion to create a vigilante martial arts group to patrol our streets, he then stumbles headlong into another controversy.
Well, to actually call it a controversy may be giving the man too much credit. More like an embarrassing blooper.
We are talking of course about the government’s recent efforts at organising the Merdeka celebrations. In particular the song with lyrics written by Rais himself called “Janji Ditepati”.
Now, propaganda, especially during the Merdeka celebrations, is nothing new for the current government. They have been doing it for as long as I can remember. But never has the propaganda been so crude and so self-serving.
The lyrics of the song, apart from having absolutely no poetic value whatsoever, would have made Goebbels proud in the utterly unsubtle espousing of the virtues of the Barisan government’s recent policies and its hectoring demands for loyalty.
Our man in the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture, in a moment where I imagine that he fancied that having a job with “culture” in its title means that he has some sort of qualification to be “artistic”, has in one fell swoop soured our annual celebrations of independence.
And the government needs all the help it can get to whip up some sort of cheer this coming Aug 31. Felda stocks are falling; the prosecution of Rafizi Ramli has backfired and even poor Lee Chong Wei can’t make the ultimate sacrifice by having Rosmah hug him and a gold medal in front of the world press.
Speaking of Chong Wei, I actually feel rather sorry for the chap.
The fact of the matter is; he is simply not as good as Lin Dan. He put up a good show however, particularly in the first and third sets, but if the other man is better, well, he is more likely to beat you.
I do have one criticism though. And no, I am not going to savage the poor fellow like M Manoharan did. I remember Mano as a kind gentleman and this does not change that view, but by golly, for a politician, he was more than a little naïve to so publicly say what he did.
The chap Chong Wei has lost already, no need to whack him for his lack of style. It’s rather mean spirited.
One thing Mano said did ring a bell for me though: the millions of ringgit promised Chong Wei if he had won. This mentality of giving huge amounts of money to successful athletes seems to me to be a rather curious use of resources.
Firstly, it sends the wrong signal. It puts on the back burner the desire to win for the sake of honour, for self, and perhaps for country too.
In a competition like the Olympics, it rankles even more because it is in principle at least a competition which is about honour not material gain.
Unlike other competitions, there is no prize money to be won, just a medal.
Furthermore if those who are willing to place so much money for one swift moment of glory have so much to spare, wouldn’t it be better to put all that ringgit in developing our sports in general?
Malaysia has a bigger population and more wealth than countries such as Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Jamaica and Ghana. Yet they can succeed at events such as the World Cup and the Olympics. What are we doing wrong?
I am no expert in sports, but it does not take much to see that if our fastest 100 meter dash was run 20 years ago and has yet to be beaten; that if our team of amateur footballers can qualify for the 1980 Olympics but now our full pros struggle against Myanmar; something is not right.
I don’t see why the country can’t rise above corruption, narcissism, nepotism, racism and plain incompetence, to create sportsmen and women in a range of disciplines to stand up, be counted and take the fight to the rest of the world.
That is the kind of thing that will help to make the nation as a whole feel proud and happy to be Malaysian. Not some half-baked excuse of a song.

1 comment:

Unknown said...


I don't think anyone can put the whole matter in better perspective than what you have done!

Please keep up the good work. This country needs more of these types of contributions...

I used to be the Australian national Champion in Weightlifting in my younger days (more than 2 decades ago!). Success was due to a Hungarian Coach. I still remember coming back to KL and having to practise next to a drain at Chung Hwa stadium. A few years later we practised at a newly built Sports Complex. It seems that all this country can do is only build buildings! There were no efforts at getting world class coaches to make sure our sports talents can go all the way!

Joe Black