Politics, War & Football (Part 2)

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In Malaysia, political parties are fond of highlighting their colours, especially on flags. Even so-called independent NGOs feel the need to pick a colour. It’s almost as if political and social messages cannot stick in the minds of the average Malaysians, unless they are written down onto colourful post-it notes.

Yes, in Malaysia, important messages can fit into tiny post-it notes. Malaysian political chants are kept short and simple. Anjing and Israelare among the commonly used words, sometimes in the same sentence. A single word can even make a chant, like Reformasi.

The problem with colours and chants is how they are overused to overshadow serious political discourse.

In Malaysia, colours and chants are hollow, provocative and discriminative. They divide, rather than unite. We need to move away from such caveman politics.

Nowadays, much of football news is dominated by off-the-pitch scandals, like having affairs with your teammate’s ex-girlfriend or brother’s wife, or assaulting a DJ for refusing to play Phil Collins. Such external elements disrupt team preparations and harmony.

Malaysian politics are filled with such melodrama too. Much of parliamentary and state assembly time is wasted on personal attacks, and conspiracy theories about secret Israeli links. Such matters may be newsworthy in the entertainment section, but hardly helps to improve economic distribution, racial relations, education and prevention of crime.

We should keep our eyes on the ball, not the fireworks.

There’s always the good, the bad and the ugly. Manchester City’s recruitment policy of paying exorbitant transfer fees and wages is bad. Equally bad is the tendency of Malaysian politicians and voters to be tempted by money.

The serial dressing room bust-ups in the French and Dutch national teams are ugly. Equally ugly is the internal squabbling and power struggles within Malaysian political parties.

But fear not, for all is not gloom and doom in football. Football means war, but as in every war, there is hope and salvation. There is yet some good in European football and politics which we can draw positives from.

Consider the Germans and Italians, traditionally known for their conservative and cynical brand of football. Today, Germany has fully reinvented itself as a youthful attacking team which has attracted legions of fans worldwide.

After their disastrous Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 campaigns, a football reformation appears to be under way for the Italians, who surprised many in Euro 2012 with their free-flowing football.

This is somewhat reminiscent of how Germany and Italy both rose from the ashes of World War Two. Determined to put the ghost of fascism firmly behind, they have now rebuilt themselves as liberal democracies.

The revolution in European football and politics bears testament to how it is possible for people to change old perspectives and embrace new philosophies in life, for the better.

As the German sports brand Adidas puts it: “Impossible is nothing”. – The Star

By: Raphael Kok

The writer is a young lawyer. Putik Lada, or pepper buds in Malay, captures the spirit and intention of this column – a platform for young lawyers to articulate their views and aspirations about the law, justice and a civil society. For more information about the young lawyers, visit www.malaysianbar.org.my.