Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sports Academy and World Cup dream

July 12, 2006

Provide more sports facilities locally

Will Malaysia ever play in football's World Cup Finals? This is a dream of every Malaysian, but if we continue with the present policies in sports, we will never realise this dream.

We excelled in many sports before like badminton, hockey, athletics and football. Today we are lagging far behind in all every sport except badminton, even in that we are rapidly being overtaken by countries which were alien to the game not long ago. In squash and bowling we can count the number of players who have risen up to international excellence.

The government has come up with an ambitious plan to put our sportsman and sportswomen in par with others at international levels. This includes participating in the World Cup finals.
To realize this ambition, we are told that the government is going ahead with a plan to build a sports training centre in London at an estimated cost of RM490 million. .

According to Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman it will be no ordinary centre but a high performance sports training centre where our athletes will compete and learn sports skills in a more professional manner. In the final outcome the plan would turn them into truly professional athletes.

While we appreciate the government’s efforts to achieve excellence in sports, setting up a costly training centre in a foreign land is definitely not the right way. I can foresee it is doomed for failure, like many such projects locally and a mere waste of taxpayers’ money.

Who will be selected to undergo training at this centre in London? Will the selection be based merely on merit or some other criteria? Who will pay for expenses in traveling, food and lodging of these elite sportsmen and women?

RM490 million is a large sum of money. It would be better to use it to build numerous football fields, badminton courts and even sports complexes in smaller towns and kampongs all over the country, which badly lack these facilities. Many existing open fields which used to be favorite places of recreation for our youngsters have been eliminated in the name of development.

Majority of sports heroes usually come from the masses and not from the rich and wealthy segment of the population. Unless we tap the great potentials that exist in the masses we will not succeed in selecting the best to represent the nation.

Football and hockey tournaments and athletic meets at school and district levels that used to be very popular in the sixties and seventies were effective ways to select talented young players for the state and national teams. These competitions are unheard of in most small towns these days. In fact many of us were selected via these competitions for further training at state level. Similar tournaments were also organized for athletics, basketball, volleyball and others.

We do not need sophisticated and high-tech sports complexes. The single most important means of developing a sport and spot talented players is to take the game to the masses all over the country. Facilities must be made available to them freely or at costs affordable to them. Selection of the players must be solely on merit not on favoritism.

We have the money and the talent, all we need is sufficient dedicated and loyal leaders who are genuinely interested to bring honor and glory, not for themselves but, for the nation. Until we find these leaders, which appears to be a formidable task, we have to be contended being mere spectators, at the most organizers, of the football World Cup.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

There is more to suicide than movies

July 10, 2006

Deputy Women, Family and Community Minister Datuk G. Palanivel’s call to the Censorship Board to cut out suicide scenes in Indian films may be timely; nonetheless it is only one of the many measures that need to be taken to reduce the incidence of suicides among Indian community.

Believing that censoring these scenes alone will prevent suicide among the Indian community is being too naïve and simplistic. I think the Seremban train tragedy is an eye opener for the new deputy MIC chief and his team on the serious problems of the Indian community.

The Indians are of the opinion that they are progressively marginalized from the national development. Their over dependence on government handouts and subsidies have left them lagging behind in all fields especially education and vocational training. As a result job opportunities are limited and unemployment is becoming a serious problem. Poverty is an inevitable accompaniment of unemployment.

Unemployment especially among the youth contributes to the increasing crime rate among them. Our wrong attitude to life is further reflected in the high incidence of diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart attacks which to me are mere indicators of our complacency. When we have loss the zeal to even take care of our own health, how can we expect to compete successfully in this fast moving materialistic global world?

Promoting our cultural and religious values are praiseworthy but over emphasis on these have resulted in the community losing out on mastering English and thereby the acquisition of valuable knowledge in science, technology, accounting and business management. We have witnessed how the earlier generation of Indians, with a good command of the language managed to excel in the various fields, both in government and private.

Instead more time and energy should be put into the pursuit of knowledge and skills in these fields as only these will ultimately bring progress to uplift our socio-economic status.
The new leadership if MIC has a lot of work to do to prevent more suicides in the Indian community. The socio-economic status must be improved. This can only be done by affecting a change the mindset, instilling discipline, encouraging hard work and self esteem among the members of the community.

Only if we are willing to change our mindset, can we rise up to face the new realities and challenges in life.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Lessons from World Cup 2006

The World cup has come to an end. Many of us may be disappointed that our favorite teams failed to make to the finals. We became so accustomed to staying awake in the wee hours and now suddenly we realize we have to get back to routine as it used to be. Like any viral fever, the World Cup fever too will take a while to recover from.

Watching the World Cup, made be ponder on a number of realities in our life today.

Each match starts with the players marching in holding the hands of children who are a symbol of innocence. Although the whole tournament may be far from being innocent due to politicization and commercialization but nevertheless FIFA still manages to portray its noble aim of promoting goodwill and unity among the masses throughout the world, in keeping with the vision of its founder, Jules Rimet, who was committed to “universal brotherhood”.

In fact the World Cup truly deserves to be called “The greatest show on earth” as it makes people forget their differences and come together to celebrate this festive month. This is evident in the huge crowds comprising all races that gather in our nasi kandar and other coffee shops at odd hours all over the country to watch the game. No l other national event can ever attract such a spontaneous crowd of all races.

Then the national anthems of the competing teams are played and close up views of the players seem to reveal the sense of pride in their faces in representing their nation.

Following this is the display of a huge banner that reads “Say no to racism”. It is an appropriate reminder to a world that is divided by race and religion which has plunged it into violence and war. . If only our political leaders from all over the globe can get together every four years and “Say no to racism”, a major battle against that evil would be won.

I was particularly impressed by the degree of patriotism displayed by the players to their countries. Imagine Zinadene Zidane, at the age of 34, managed to pump all the adrenaline into his system, to rise up to the occasion to steer his team almost single-handedly into the finals. Then there was David Beckham shedding tears of sorrow as he was kept out of the penalties by which England loss to Portugal. There was also Ronaldo who was so determined to become the greatest world cup scorer which he finally succeeded.

We witnessed Germany and Argentina toil it out for more than 2 hours to outplay each other. In the clash between Germany and Italy, the spirit of perseverance of the Italians till the dying minutes brought them the desired result. It was this fighting spirit that finally made them the champions.

Every player, regardless of his color or creed displayed so much patriotism towards his country. Most of these young men are rich and lead glamorous but their attitude of seeking glory for their nation surely must be lesson for us all.

Do we Malaysians have that much of true patriotism for our country? If we had we would have joined the ranks of South Korea and Japan in the World Cup finals, as we were once superior to these nations.

From what I see we had all the national patriotism before but this is regrettably slowly slipping by. All we can do is to sadly stand idle and watch this patriotism to the nation being substituted by “over-patriotism” to ones own race, religion and material wealth.

It is timely for us to find the root cause of this failure. We must sit down and think of ways to instill greater and true patriotism among our youngsters. Unless we succeed in this, we will continue to lag behind in the field of sports and be satisfied as being just spectators.

In this context we have to reconsider the relevance, in the modern era, of the famous phrase of John F. Kennedy, which was very pertinent in the sixties, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but you can do for your country”. Perhaps in today’s realities it is also equally important to ask not just what you can do for you but also what your country can do for you.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Bullet train to Singapore

July 7, 2006

Restore rail transport

I refer to your report “Bullet train to Singapore: From KL in 90 minutes”(NST July 5).

It is indeed a fantastic idea to develop such a fast train service between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. It would greatly enhance trade and growth of the economy on both sides. However the problems of such a mega project should not overlooked. Recent experiences with the crooked bridge should be lesson for us.

An in-depth study should be undertaken by all concerned before embarking on this project. Special attention must be paid to its effects on environment, dislocation of residents and cost. It should not be built for sake of glory and megalomania but rather for the benefit of the rakyat.
In this regards, it is also timely to consider re-establishing the rail service to all major towns in the peninsula. This is I feel more urgent than the bullet train to Singapore.

In the sixties to the eighties, rail transport used to be very convenient, cheap and safe mode of transport for the people as it connected even many small towns over the length and breadth of the peninsula. In fact in the late eighties this was further improved to become faster and more efficient in the form of the express rakyat. There were even frequent railcar services between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh.

It used to be such a pleasant experience to travel by train as it took you through the natural scenery of remote Malaysia. I’m sure it would be major attraction for tourists as well.
Unfortunately today rail transport has deteriorated to the extent of being almost non-existent. People have since resorted to cars and buses so much so our roads are now choked with motor vehicles. Accidents are on the rise and have become a major killer in Malaysia. Pollution from these vehicles too has become a cause of worry.

There is an urgent need to re-established one of our past glories, the train service to become a major form of transport for the person that is cheap, reliable, pleasant and above all safe.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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