COUNTERPOINT: Change that Malaysian mentality
HAS Malaysian sport reached a state where an accepted form of despotic rule has become necessary?

By Lazarus Rokk (From New Straits Times Online of Wednesday, November 23 2005)

Has the decadence - both in mind and matter - become so catastrophic that the democratic system needs to be protected by a form of dictatorial rule against unscrupulous and ineffectual officials who abuse and manipulate it?
If it ever comes to that state of affairs when we Malaysians have to be dictated, we will only have our typical Malaysian mentality to blame for it.
Take a typical day in our lives from the time we leave home - either in our cars or public transport - till the time we return, and you will see this mentality that reduces us Malaysians to inferior beings.
On the roads the kiasu (don't want to lose) mentality takes over the man or woman behind the wheel, turning everything into a personal battle. From the time you start your engines, it's war.
Giving way to a motorist is a sign of weakness. Nosing into the position ahead of the motorist in front of you after a protracted battle, is a victory you can be proud of. Not acknowledging the good deed of a motorist who had just given you way, is encouraged because he owes it to you.
If you are involved in an accident, even if you are wrong, come out fighting because that's the Malaysian way. In residential areas, the one-way or no-entry sign is only for law abiders.
And it's perfectly fine to board a bus or train ahead of the others, even after you have pushed, shoved, or God forbid, groped women on your way up, because that's what most Malaysians do.
Good manners and queues are not for us.
We rush into lifts even before the first person coming out of one is out. Not many of us keep doors open for the people close on our heels. I can go on for days on what we Malaysians have mutated into.
But in this column I want to focus on two major aspects of this mutated Malaysian mentality that has all but destroyed not only the very fibre of our social values, but turned most of us believers into cynics.
I wrote a couple of years ago that if there was one force that can wipe out the entire Malaysian race from the face of this planet, the chances are it won't be water, fire, ice, or even a nuclear holocaust. We will survive all that.
But God help us against that omnipotent force which we Malaysians have come to know and fear as the dengki (jealousy) factor.
It's predominant in our politics, stressfully annoying in our workplace, devastatingly destructive in our business sector, and so frustratingly commanding in our sport as well.
We Malaysians have become so comfortable with being complacent and insecure by our desire to be plain and ordinary, that we will not allow anyone else with the will to be extraordinary or ingenious, to succeed.
Sadly, it's these mediocre people who have been infected by this disease, who are the ones who have often prevailed over those who have dared to be different and want change.
For, we Malaysians have nurtured and cultivated this dengki factor with such great will and passion that today it presides over just about every facet of our lives.
And just as destructive is that other element of this "mutant Malaysian" which can't and won't accept criticisms, as constructive as they may be. Outspokenness in this society is a bane, it's not a virtue. Often we get chastised for it.
Because if it's not our egos that we are trying to protect, most of us Malaysians have become so paranoid that we believe there has to be a sinister motive behind every criticism.
Which is why, when Malaysian sport is built around this mutated mentality, you sometimes wonder if all those grand plans are going to work, because eventually and invariably all these plans depend on this genre of Malaysian to make it work.
And these are the people who bring back to life inept officials who are meant to stay buried. The Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union is a classic case in point.
It was suspended a few years ago to allow a fresh set of administrators to take the sport from out of its doldrums, but what happened after that was we had the same old officials who were the cause of the suspension back in power.
The influential Karim Ibrahim who was the general secretary when MAAU was suspended in 2002, returned as vice-president this year, and wielded his control over affiliates to assume the role as chairman of coaching and development - a position his predecessor Lt (rtd) Danyal Balagopal was excelling in.
I hear now his old cronies will be making their way back into the MAAU. So tell me, how do we expect things to change when we have this mentality still dominating Malaysian sport.
In the FA of Malaysia, it's really no different either. There really isn't much that anyone can do there as president or deputy president, when the people down the line in the implementation areas belong to this mutated mentality.
People like deputy president Datuk Redzuan Sheikh Ahmad, vice-presidents Datuk Raja Ahmad Raja Zainuddin, Datuk Jamal Nasir Rasdi, and Datuk Anifah Aman, are the ones FAM depend on to get its house in order, but they have been a part of the problem too with their ineffectiveness.
These administrators should step down or not seek re-election if they can no longer contribute to football or the FAM. But accountability isn't a culture here. Not many resign on a matter of principle.
So where does football or the FAM go from there, when there is no accountability, and the same ineffective officials are voted in every election year.
Basically, if we can change this mutated Malaysian mentality, the fatality rate on roads will decrease, the crime rate will drop, and Malaysian sport will be on the rise.

Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"