Thomas Cup And Malaysian Politics On The Losing End


I have followed this latest edition of the Thomas Cup closely and like most badminton fans, I was very disappointed when the Malaysian team bowed out at the quarter-final stage last Thursday.
The Malaysian team went to Bangkok, where the Cup finals are being held, full of confidence. Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) officials and coaches touted this Malaysian team as the strongest since 1992 (the last time we won the coveted trophy).
Suddenly, we all felt good enough to bring home the Thomas Cup. There was that anticipation and fans were all excited at the prospect.
For all the matches in the group stage, we performed very well. We even defeated Japan, a badminton powerhouse, to top the group.
The quarter-final against India was a total disaster. It soon became clear that our second and third singles were no match for the Indians. In the crucial deciding match, our third single was a washout. Our best was just not good enough.
Of all the comments to have emerged in the public sphere following Malaysia’s exit from the Thomas Cup, I can agree with BAM high-performance director Tim Jones when he stressed that players must be emotionally and mentally prepared and that their hearts and minds must be aligned.
“Everyone in the world is going to be training hard, but how can we make sure we’re better than them? Maybe we need to improve our sports science or its connection with the coaching art.
“We need to find a way so they could mentally stop, reset, change and move on. It’s very difficult in a high-pressure situation,” Jones added.
Accompanying the comments by Jones was a note, declaring “change the sports minister”, written by a friend who posted the article in a chat group.
I didn’t actually agree with “change the sports minister” because doing so will not raise the standard of any sports in the country. The Youth and Sports Ministry is also considered a junior portfolio and the job is usually assigned to a younger, junior politician.
So, it’s not about the sports minister. I believe that most of them who had helmed the ministry were not qualified or fit for the task. Seriously, I cannot think of one sports minister who had excelled in the job.
What really baffled me in the Thomas Cup was when Malaysia could beat Japan in the group stage but failed against India in the quarter-final. That was quite telling on our strategies and players’ confidence and temperament as a whole.
I follow badminton as I had played the game as a recreational sport till I was 50.
Uncanny similarity
Maybe I have been writing too much, and hence, thinking too much about politics as well, that I see an uncanny similarity between our Thomas Cup debacle and the state of Malaysian politics in recent times.
If Pakatan Harapan could beat BN in 2018 and yet could be betrayed by people within their inner circle in 2020, that says a lot too about the state of mind of those in power then.
Even the top Harapan leaders, like our Thomas Cup players, were not emotionally and mentally prepared to deal with the crisis at hand. They were totally lost and did not know what to do at the height of the Sheraton putsch.
Today (Sunday), I hope India will win the Thomas Cup for the first time. I would love to see Indian badminton creating history. It will be good for the sport in the Indian sub-continent. Pakistan and Bangladesh could be encouraged to take badminton more seriously, hopefully.
Harapan unlikely to score
Come the 15th general election (GE15), Harapan is not likely to win. For what had happened in 2020, I think Harapan deserves to lose and I would not be surprised to see Harapan losing big time in the coming polls.
I believe DAP will probably remain the single biggest opposition party after GE15 while PKR and Amanah will be soundly thrashed. Other parties like Pejuang, Bersatu, PBM and other smaller parties will fade away, sooner than later.
But I would give Warisan and Muda some seats and these two parties should continue to stay relevant in Malaysian politics for some time to come.
Let me repeat. Come GE15, get rid of all the Harapan traitors. Then, place Harapan in the political wilderness for the next five years and let them lick their wounds, swallow some bitter pills and learn their lesson.
It’s also time for Harapan and all political parties to realise that voters will no longer be treated as fools.
My message to voters is the same. If you think that all the candidates in your constituency are useless, self-serving buggers, then refrain from voting.
And yes, your vote is sacred. Better keep it pure and close to your chest than to give it to scheming and treacherous politicians. - Mkini
FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is a veteran Sarawak editor and heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS). He can be reached at [email protected]
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT

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