Let me be up front, as I always have been. I find the comments from some cabinet ministers, including the prime minister, on the cancelled World Para Swimming Championship careless, nauseating and disgusting.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said that the revocation of Malaysia’s right to host the event was not a loss for the country.
“We are defending our right not to have diplomatic relations with Israel. I don’t think we lose anything,” he said.
Saifuddin, to you Malaysia did not lose anything, but Sarawak lost everything…well, a lot, in terms of the time, energy and resources wasted over the past few months in preparing for the event.
According to Sarawak Sports Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, many meetings were held in Kuching and overseas, and he even went to Mexico, the previous host, to learn from them.
International Paralympic Committee (IPC) officials and the foreign media had also visited Kuching for a first-hand look at the venue, as well as to observe preparations, he said.
“Up to yesterday (Jan 27), 64 nations with 1,678 athletes, coaches and officials, have confirmed their participation. Flights and accommodation had been arranged,” Karim added.
This is what Sarawak had prepared as the host, but what do some federal ministers care! Sarawak is the only party who suffered and we, Sarawakians, care even if the big shots in Putrajaya do not.
The federal government should work out a compensation package to Sarawak for the losses suffered. Better do it quick and do not tell us that Putrajaya will settle it later as it can’t afford to do so now.
What Putrajaya could never compensate in dollars and cents is how the great names of Kuching, my home city, and Sarawak, my dear homeland, have been sullied by this international outcry.
By being the innocent host venue, Kuching and Sarawak are probably now on the “black list” of international sports organisations. Our lovely cat city and beautiful hornbill land will not likely get another chance to host any Olympic-associated event, probably for a long time to come. Thank you so much, Putrajaya.
Now, tell us, what reparation can you offer for bringing such shame, disrepute and dishonour to Kuching and Sarawak? I’m not sure even a 100 percent oil royalty can repair the damage to our reputation.
What did our young sports minister say after IPC withdrew the host job?
“If hosting an international sporting event is more important than standing up for our Palestinian brothers and sisters who get murdered, maimed and tortured by the Netanyahu regime (in Israel), that means Malaysia has truly lost its moral compass.”
Hello young man, your job is to see to the development of sports, not to worry about war crimes and moral compasses. Right now, please know that your own compass is throwing you off-tangent. Just do your job, concentrate on sports and let the adults handle adult affairs.
Nay, we can’t expect a 25-year-old to say anything to the contrary against his 93-year-old great grandfather! How on earth did we get stuck in such limbo?
Message to Dr M
A well-meaning friend asked me two days ago as to why I continue to be defiant on this Israeli issue. This was my response:
“When is it a sin to disagree with Dr Mahathir Mohamad? I do not have to agree with all of his decisions and policies, not when I feel strongly against some of them.”
With the utmost respect to our prime minister, I think his stand on this issue is totally biased and even personal.
I would even venture to say that this time, he seems to have forgotten that he is the prime minister, and not a private citizen as he was eight months ago.
Perhaps it is necessary to remind our revered paramount leader that on foreign policies, he must take the whole of Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak, into consideration.
More importantly, he must not be seen to be speaking up only with one race and one religion in mind. That might be trendy and fashionable, but he would lose a lot of respect and goodwill from the “other Malaysians”.
On his anti-Israel stance in relation to the Para Swimming Championship which was supposed to be hosted by Sarawak, it is with much regret that I have to say “Sorry, Dr Mahathir, you don’t speak for Sarawak this time.”
I can say with confidence that the majority of Sarawakians are not with you on this because we think it is wrong to bring in race, religion and politics into sports.
It is also interesting to note that the prime minister also finds it necessary to explain himself following the international outcry over the swimming championship.
I read his article ‘A genocidal state’ three times and unfortunately, I do not find any correlation with the World Para Swimming Championship as he mumbled on the same old stuff we have heard and read so often before.
One Malaysiakini reader said it for me when he commented, “By all means, ban all the Israeli political and military leaders, but please spare the innocent Paralympic athletes who just want to compete with their peers after training hard for years.”
In my WhatsApp note to my Muslim friends on this issue this past week, I wrote: “I hope all my Muslim brethren are able to think and consider this World Para Swimming Championship as just a sports event, and nothing else. If race/religion and politics are brought in, we will get nowhere.”
And that, dear Dr Mahathir, is also my message to you.
FRANCIS PAUL SIAH