Tuesday June 12, 2012
Sense of fair play is important
Ceritalah by KARIM RASLAN
No sporting victory or political gain is worth sacrificing honour, integrity and common decency. Indeed, fans and voters appreciate and respect those who practise fair play.
SIXTEEN teams. Eight venues. Millions of supporters crowding the stadiums — hundreds of millions more watching via television.
As the games roll on every night, every soccer pundit — paid or unpaid — will be evaluating the respective teams.
Were the Dutch players racially harassed and is that reason enough to suspend a game? Was Leonardo Bonucci’s tackle fair or a foul? Will the Spanish rise to the occasion — just as their nation implodes under an incredible debt burden?
But even as some players take a dive, at least we can rest assured that individual play-acting won’t derail the entire contest.
Everything we’re watching night after night is moderated by a combination of fair refereeing and honest time-keeping. In short: there are rules to the game.
Now, stop a minute and imagine what it would be like if Malaysian politics and its skewered set of rules was suddenly transferred into Euro 2012.
Mmm ... there’d be referees wearing the same colours as the teams they’re supposed to be supervising, players jumping from one side to the other — scoring own goals with relish and half the match shrouded in darkness!
Well, we can’t possibly show you what the opposition are thinking or doing ... for that you can use your imagination!
Obviously there’d be outrage because all form of sports are based on the idea of fair play, of a set of straightforward rules that everyone agrees to abide by, even though there are the inevitable hand-balls or unpunished off-sides that can result in a goal.
For all Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho’s deliberately provocative antics, there’s an idea that practitioners — footballers to politicians — should behave like gentlemen (or ladies), and that no sporting victory or political gain is worth sacrificing honour, integrity and common decency for.
Indeed, fans and voters appreciate and respect those who still practise it.
The West Ham and England legend Sir Bobby Moore was lionised not only for his defending prowess but also for his mild-mannered and gentlemanly behaviour on and off the pitch.
Indeed, he was described as such by his former rivals like Pele and Franz Beckenbauer — probably the greatest accolade a sportsman could ever win.
Conversely (and at risk of alienating Liverpool fans out there), the controversy surrounding Luis Suarez’s alleged racial abuse of Patrice Eva has undoubtedly tarnished the former’s reputation, his talents notwithstanding.
A sense of fair play is crucial in sports just as it is in life in general.
Sadly, fair play isn’t an ingredient we’d find in abundance in Malaysian politics.
This absence is made worse because the onlookers in the Malaysian political game aren’t just passive observers or fans, because as voters we’re also players and we want our views reflected in the final outcome or result.
This sentiment is reflected in the Merdeka Centre’s findings which indicate that 92% of Malaysians support the cleaning up of the electoral roll before the next general election.
Malaysians like and want fair-play. We approve of individuals who are decent, honest and professional. We find the dirt and muck distasteful and off-putting.
Moreover we loathe all political frogs — those who jump from party to party.
The uneven playing field between our political parties — especially in terms of access to the mainstream media (MSM) — is also a lingering problem despite all the promises of reform.
In the past, Malaysians were afraid of those in power. Now we don’t care. We despise most of them, especially those who tie themselves up in knots as they try to justify their ridiculous policy decisions.
Politicians are regarded as disposable items — like tissue-paper. Calls for respect are ignored unless they are well deserved.
We are no longer here to be intimidated, cowed or lied to. We want a chance to decide our fate in a system that prioritises “fair play”.
We want to hear both sides of the story (as we did with the Khairy Jamaluddin–Rafizi Ramli debate) before we make our minds up. Woe to anyone who would presume to impose on us.
We hate personal attacks and detest the tendency to “overkill”, so much so that victimhood has become a badge of honour. Clamping down on honest dissent just turns away many would-be supporters.
True, it may secure you a victory, but the victory comes at a terrible cost in legitimacy and trust.
One is therefore very heartened to note the recent Cabinet decision to allow political parties to promote their respective manifestos on RTM after the next dissolution of Parliament.
However, such initiatives have to be handled professionally and fairly. Still, it’s a small but important step forward.
If done properly, this will finally give a vast number of Malaysians a chance to judge for themselves whether Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has what it takes to lead the country.
It’s downright foolish to assume that this move will automatically benefit or hurt either Barisan or Pakatan — all politicians deserve, and indeed need, greater scrutiny to make them up their performances.
At the end of the day, we should practise fair play if for no other reason than that as in sports, it will be the game of politics, to say nothing of the people and the country, which will ultimately benefit from it.
Let’s hope that day comes soon. In the meantime, Happy Euro 2012 everyone!