It was too good an opportunity for a politician heading into a make-or-break election to give up. The country has just picked up the most number of medals at the Sea Games, and there were enough down-to-earth, home-made champions to give us a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Our champions seemed so like us, Malaysians who battled the odds to bring glory to family and country.
A sterling performance and a confetti of likeable champions. What a winning combination.
So, we understand the desire of the Najib Razak government to ride on the burst of patriotism and nationalism. A politician looks for any edge to stay in power.
The mainstream media had glowing headlines. One even declared that there was a place for every Malaysian under the Malaysian sun. A subtext in all the reporting was that unity had delivered success over the decades, and unity among the races must always be treasured and defended.
We understand that Najib wants to ride this wave for as long as he can. Some political analysts believe that he will seek a new mandate in October, just after two important events – the visit to the White House and the Budget.
Others believe that the PM is prepared to wait till just after Chinese New Year. But that is up to him, and the results are up to us.
Beyond all that, we should celebrate what our athletes have achieved. We should celebrate our blessed home, warts and all.
But more than anything else, we should reflect on whether talk of unity and celebrating diversity is only talk.
We should ask ourselves searching questions on whether the country envisioned by Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj and the other founding fathers still exists.
Or, have we gone far off track?
We must think beyond headlines and slogans, and ask if everyone born in this country feels a sense of belonging, worth or equality.
We must also be honest with ourselves. Have we become accomplices, or, by our silence, abetted the wrongdoings or apathy in Malaysia?
When we look across the table and see a Malay, Chinese, Indian or Kadazan family, do we see a friend or foe?
We understand that Najib and friends would like to milk any feel-good moment in the country. It is what politicians do. They seize moments and opportunities, not always with the interest of the majority.
But surely, we would be failing as patriotic Malaysians if we just went with the flow. We have to keep them and all other politicians honest and accountable.
That would be the Malaysian thing to do.