Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sleeping Dragon & Toothless Tiger

Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is a massive movie that portray the art of martial arts in a meaningful voice. It is a sweeping and engaging action-packed epic achieved by Hong Kong film-makers and was accorded the best foreign films at Cannes. It demonstrates martial arts as a personal achievement, honor, and dignity. The villains in this kind of story are almost always people who use their artful abilities for evil or selfish completion. The heroes are overcome by duty and achievement, and often defy limitation of physiology and mental solicitude.

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" does contain some absurdities where it parade sequences where the characters defy the laws of gravity, glide over rooftops, rush up the sides of walls, and leap from one house to another.

The unique content in that separates "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" from other films of this genre is the great depth and rhythm of how they connect with the story.

However, Malaysia is striving to produce another form codenamed - “The Malayan Tiger”. This is the new theme of the new kit for Malaysian national teams to international sports events and it was launched by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, at the Youth and Sports Ministry here yesterday.

And the Malaysian contingent to the 23rd SEA Games, which begin in Manila on Nov 27, will be the first batch of athletes to wear the new attire. The tracksuit and jersey are orange-based with wide black stripes. Both attire have the Malaysian flag on the front right and the word “Malaysia” printed on the back. The front left is kept open for sponsors. It was designed by Lim Kok Wing with a national theme in mind.

“The Malayan Tiger has all the characteristics that we want our athletes to emulate. And I'm sure that having a single national identity will spur our athletes to excel further in their chosen fields,” said Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

After 48 years, yes, four decades and 8 scores, and numerous designs of attires and billions of dollars dump down the drain, finally, the sport's ministry have come up with the presumptious solution to our sports problem - a NEW THEME!

Recalling our memory of the Athens Olympic, the news decried: The Malaysian Slideshow - it's Down, Down, & Down.

The news began with a para for us to ponder:

"WHEN the dust settles on Athens - no, not on Athens, it’s an incredibly dusty city - when it settles on the Malaysian campaign in Athens, Malaysians will look back with many “IF ONLY”.

IF ONLY Lee Wan Wah had not been rattled by the service judge. If only he and Choong Tan Fook had kept their domination over the Korean silver-medal winning pair of Lee Dong-soo and Yoo Yong-sang. IF ONLY Wong Choong Hann had not switched his game while having the upper hand over eventual champion Taufik Hidayat. IF ONLY we had more Josiah Ngs.

Josiah produced the best Malaysian performance at Athens, finishing sixth in the keirin event — and then apologised profusely to the nation. Josiah said he wanted to apologise to the people of Malaysia “for not coming through for them”.

And Malaysians were rushing to congratulate him for a job done well. “I didn’t get a medal,” Josiah told them. That's the difference between a medal winner and an also-ran.

The country’s badminton hopes went crashing out early in the competition. And they claimed they had tried their best, some even blaming the draught in the hall. Wan Wah claimed he lost because he was rattled by a judge who faulted his service. Choong Hann blamed the draught. “The other day it blew this way and today, it blew the other way. My plans wents awry.”

Olympic Council of Malaysia president Tunku Imran Tuanku Jaafar: “Medals aren’t everything. It’s not the end of the world.”

It was classic Malaysian mentality: Mediocrity is all right, so long as you are better than the average Malaysian. Who cares for continental supremacy or world supremacy?

More than RM105 million had been spent over two years to prepare the Malaysians for Athens. So what went wrong in Athens? That is the question which the Cabinet wants answered. At their weekly meeting, the ministers discussed the poor performance of the contingent at the 2004 Olympics.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said said: "The Cabinet is very concerned after spending so much."

"The Cabinet has directed me to prepare a report about Athens and also on the ministry's long-term plans to produce elite athletes under the Gemilang 2006 programme." The report will be ready in seven days.

She said: "From what I saw in Athens, our athletes were well skilled. So, this means that they have been given the adequate training. We have to look towards developing a winning formula for our athletes." The Ministry has also requested a more detailed evaluation from each of the nine sports associations whose athletes represented the country in the Olympics.

The Gemilang 2006 programme is currently in its second phase, and it involves 535 athletes. Only the best athletes will be kept in the programme for the final phase before the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. The first phase — from 2002 until last December — saw a total of 733 athletes being involved in the programme.

Azalina said, despite the failure of the Olympic contingent in general, the performances of two athletes — cyclist Josiah Ng and 14-year old diver Bryan Nickson Lomas — were commendable.

But Dr. Jegathesan, the chief-de-mission did not term the Athens Olympic a failure for Malaysia, as he believed circumstances derailed them from their targets.

“Athens was not a failure, but can be seen as a success of sorts because of the 26 Malaysian athletes, 22 were there on merit while only 4 were wild cards. Malaysia also took part in 11 disciplines and this itself can be termed as ‘SUCCESS’.”

“So, the failure to win medals should not read as a failure of our programmes, and there is no need to press the panic button yet,” said OCM President Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar.

Jegathesan gave the 16 Olympic-bound athletes and 6 coaches envelopes during the centralized training in Putrajaya for them to place their personal targets. the targets penned by the athletes were 2 gold, 1 bronze, 3-final spots, 1 semi-final, 1 quarter-final and 2 national records. “This showed that the athletes were taking the Games seriously and had high ambitions, but COULD NOT ACHIEVE THEM.”

The questions that Jegathesan asked in his report were: Was the cauldron of the highest level too much for our athletes to face?

Were they not really nurtured for this exercise? Did they lack the killer instinct? Did they throw away good chance?”

Jegathesan then said the X Factor, which made every single projected athlete fail, could be due to the “HOT WEATHER” which the athletes could not adjust to; the high level of competition which could have had a salutary effect on our athletes, boredom, nervousness, and the inability of the athletes to adapt to adverse conditions during the events.

According to Dr M. Jegathesan, to succeed, Malaysian athletes must be discipline and must be willing to get up at 4am and train even if the body says no. “They must be able to tear themselves away at 10pm even if they are at a party and thoroughly enjoying themselves. The discipline must come in every aspect of their lives, not just in training.”

And, he said, the National Sports Council should stop taking over the role of the sports associations. “They just have to be the financing body. They can set regular targets for the sports associations. If the targets are not met according to schedule, they can cut the funding.

“But the associations know best about their sports. They should be allowed to do their jobs.”

In one sense, though, Jegathesan felt the Olympic debacle is a blessing in disguise. “We have a new minister, we have this failure. Now, let’s start anew. Let’s get together with a national summit on sports and really decide on what we want to do and how we want to do it. And let’s decide on how much sports matters to us."

How essential is it to us? Or is it just a frivolous pastime?” For now, he said, there were many majlis pelancaran (launchings)” and majlis makan (receptions). “And then, all is forgotten.” Yes, Malaysians do forget – and even forgive – easily.

After the Athens Olympic, the Sports Ministry engaged Western Australia International Sports Director Hallam Pereira to developed a new blueprint. It’s codenamed as ACE – Athletes Career Education. This programme is to ensure that athletes have a future to look forward to once they retire from competition. This is to ensure that athletes who dedicate their lives for the country would be taken care of. The training time is dedicated to specific educational programmes for athlete to ensure they have a future after sports.

THE only thing new in the whole episode of moving Malaysian sports forward is that the findings have come from a new person — a foreigner. Otherwise it is an old story. That was the verdict from most of the Malaysian sport officials interviewed, following Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said's decision to engaged Hallam Pereira, who was appointed her personal adviser, to draw the blueprint.

Malaysian AAU (MAAU) deputy president Datuk First Admiral Danyal Balagopal did not mince his words when he said: "There is nothing new in what has been said by Pereira.”

"The same things have been highlighted by Malaysians, at least as far as athletics is concerned, but unfortunately, nobody listens to us," said Balagopal. "We may offer the same ideas and solutions but nothing happens until a foreigner says it,” said Balagopal.

"Pereira has done what he has been paid to do, that is, to tell the sad truth. But many Malaysians have also spoken about it. But do we acknowledge and pay them the same amount of money for their services?

Finally, the blueprint is out - The Malaysian Tiger - the New Theme for our athletes!

The rituals; the form, but where's the substance?

In response, this what what Sport Minister Azalina had to say:

“After 48 years of independence, we have finally come up with a single identity and it is important that we use it and popularise it so that Malaysian fans will also start using this design when they come out in support of the national teams." “We will register the design and colours so that we have full control over their usage. We will encourage all teams, even the professionals, to use them.”

What else?

Lets not forget the words of Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi:

"Malaysia is not a poor country. We eat well, have healthy bodies and have facilities available but countries that are not as developed as us have proven to be better. Where do their ability come from? It all comes down to preparedness.”


howsy said...

Nice analysis done as usual. Where did you get all those old newspapers cutting? You scanned every single page of newspapers every day?

"Aiya...kalah sekali takpa...boleh cuba lagi...Malaysia Boleh. Kita pernah menang Piala Thomas wat(remember those songs by RTM which featured the Thomas Cup won in 1992 aired for the umpteenth time?)..."

Cuba lagi? Sampai bila? Tak apa...we are still the top 100/200/200/400/500 in *insert your favourite sport here*. What the hell...we should glorify it and start putting banners and posters all around Malaysia!

Maverick SM said...

Yes Howsy. I don't scan every single page but those that I wanted for my research purposes. At the same time, I culled it for articles to blog.

It's tedious and hours of scan, cataloging and archiving.

Lucia Lai said...

“Athens was not a failure, but can be seen as a success of sorts because of the 26 Malaysian athletes, 22 were there on merit while only 4 were wild cards. Malaysia also took part in 11 disciplines and this itself can be termed as ‘SUCCESS’.”

typical reaction. like the recent U ranking. when there was a drastic drop, who was it, that say they are doing well since they are among the top 200.

new theme? tiger? aiya... just for show show only lah. after that, nothing will come out of it. a new theme will not going to get our athletes to excel.