By Mariam Mokhtar
English footballer Ian Wright once said: “I’ve got the passion but no idea of tactics – I’d be like a black Kevin Keegan.”
Is this an apt description of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the wannabe football player?
Last Saturday, the football-mad Najib used Euro 212 as an analogy for BN to “strive like football players to thrash their opponents”.
Sir Stanley Matthews, one of England’s finest footballers, once said: “Whenever I see a bald man walk down the street I never think, ‘there’s a man who has done a lot of worrying’, I think, ‘there’s a man who looks like he was a good header of a ball’.”
We were wrong to assume that Najib has lost sleep and hair from worrying about the likely outcome of GE13. Najib must have been busy in his backyard, heading balls into the net.
Employers also worry that Najib will contract football fever again. In 2010, the Malaysian team won the AFF Suzuki cup against Indonesia. Patriotism cost companies dearly. Absent workers meant that orders for goods were unfulfilled, and those who turned up for work, had to be paid ‘public holiday’ rates. Cynics mocked Najib and wondered if he would declare a month-long holiday should Malaysia win the World Cup.
At the opening of the Urban Transformation Centre in Malacca, Najib boasted: “The Euro 2012 tournament probably will not see a record score like what I hope Barisan can achieve in the 13th general election, but I am confident we will emerge with 14-0 with 0 for the opposition. We will thrash our rival; let them go back with a zero score.” [sic]
It is widely known that soccer is a ‘beautiful’ game but is it a gentleman’s game? Umno is not known for its sportsmanlike behaviour.
Most soccer coaches would tell the budding player that if he were to practise hard enough, he might be able to turn professional. The end justifies the means; BN has had 54 years of practice to ‘win’ every match by any means, including foul-play and match-fixing.
To achieve success, a football team must have a strong defence and a dependable core of strikers and wingers who are prepared to take risks. A good coach will warn you not to be motivated by glory, that good sportsmanship is vital, and to desist the urge to hog the ball or show off.
So isn’t Najib deluded? Umno tends to hog the metaphorical ball, the party is famous for rough tackles and they are consumed with their ‘image’.
To Najib, winning is everything and he has already said he would defend Putrajaya at all costs. The words of Bill Shankly mirror Najib’s views: “First is first, and second is nowhere.”
The PM, who has an inflated view of his own ‘brilliance’, is just like Cristiano Ronaldo, who once said: “If I am named the best in the world, it won’t be a surprise to me.”
‘Numbers don’t mean support’
Both Najib and Rais Yatim, his minister for information, communications and culture, have rejected the rakyat’s demands for free, clean and fair elections. They lied about the 250,000 turnout for Bersih 3.0 and contrasted this with the 66th anniversary Umno celebrations at Stadium Merdeka, which they claimed was orderly, well attended and far superior.
Alan McInally said: “England should’ve won against Croatia because they had 800 million people in the stadium,” while John Motson described the Emirates Stadium thus: “The atmosphere within the Emirates Stadium has really improved since Arsenal moved here.”
Najib may have claimed that 100,000 people gathered in Stadium Merdeka, but that does not mean he has the support of Malaysians or the backing of the Malay community.
He is aware he must win GE13 at all costs. The memories of former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s leadership of Umno – and BN’s losses in GE12 in 2008 – are fresh in his mind.
Ian Wright once said: “Without being too harsh on David Beckham, he cost us the match.”
When Gordon Banks said, “The goalkeeper parried the ball or, as we used to say in my day, he couldn’t hold it,” he might as well have been describing Abdullah.
On hindsight, Umno members might also reflect on Yossi Benayoun’s words: “We played like a bunch of drunks”, as they remember GE12.
A word about the opposition team would be appropriate. Brian Clough once said: “The FA didn’t offer me the job as England manager because they thought I’d make too many changes, stir things up and cause them problems…and they were bloody right”.
His remarks remind us of Anwar Ibrahim’s bust-up with former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Today, Anwar and the opposition coalition, with its long list of reforms, are causing problems for BN.
Najib’s team coach has to be Mahathir. Before he left Arsenal, Thierry Henry said: “I am not going to leave. Never. I am staying here for life.”
Weary Malaysians are finding the spirit of Henry in Mahathir. Despite his retirement, Mahathir still dabbles in Malaysian politics.
A quote from George Best sums up Najib: “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.”
It is always the poor rakyat who suffer. They are hampered by the Election Commission (EC) which is not aware it is breaking the rules. We sometimes feel like Gary Lineker, who once declared: “A handball is when your hand touches the ball.”
We are exasperated with the EC’s handling of Malaysian elections and again, empathise with Lineker: “My granny could probably have managed Brazil to World Cup success.”
We feel the same way about the EC, or Najib and GE13. – Malaysiakini
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.