Sportsmanship and Rules of Engagement

By batsman 

Every culture or civilization has its ethics and value systems. These are non-matter and may be of no consequence to materialists but they bind the community together and make sense to people who hold that culture or belong to that civilization.

So for former black slaves to make an impact in WASPish America, the former slaves and their descendents have to learn the ropes. It so happens that America holds dear its laws and constitution, so descendants of former black slaves have to learn to play along. It stands to reason that if Obama did not play along or if he did not know the values and ethics of America, he would not be President. 

He could only earn acceptance and respect if he mastered intimately the ethics, values and practical traditions of how things are done in America. If a black man plays according to the rules with skill and finesse, even the whites can accept the outcome. 

When 2 civilizations meet, they may cooperate or they may fight. If they choose to fight, there is no need to learn the values and ethics of each other and to use these values to gain acceptance or respect. They just need to learn the others’ weaknesses and can just whack the other from the outside with violent force. 

However, if they choose to cooperate and live in peace there is a great need to learn each other’s ethics and values – to learn the ropes of the other civilization or culture so as to make headway in gaining acceptance and respect. 

Malaysia unfortunately suffers from a lack of respect for the rule of law in almost all its major cultures. There is subsequently no sportsmanship in the practice of democracy in Malaysia. There is only respect for patronage and for power. There is therefore an unfortunate tendency for a degeneration of the practice of democracy into gangsterism. Dirty tricks are used indiscriminately and even the law is manipulated cynically to maintain patronage and power. 

It is only the foreigners who value the rule of law to any extent. The impression of foreigners is important; therefore the Malaysian government tries its best to look as if it respects the rule of law too in a most hypocritical way. But foreigners are not stupid. They also make judgments as to whether the current government is doing a good job ruling the country. Right now, it appears as if they are starting to think that the ethics and values of patronage have run its course and there is a need for more objective competition to bring out important latent skills of Malaysians such that the economy and hence their investments and profits can hum along at a respected pace. 

The foreigners make their opinions known in a variety of ways, but they are also concerned that things do not get out of control and that the alternative is not only viable but better. 

This is where things get a little complicated. In spite of Malaysia boasting endlessly that it is a harmonious mix of cultures living in peace together, it is really UMNO’s version of racial harmony. Some people are really vulgar and uncultured and without any ethics or decency of any importance. They think that threatening each other with knives or burning each others’ places of worship or criticizing each other’s culture or religion from the outside is sufficient to improve matters. There is no attempt to understand and work within each other’s culture to gain acceptance and respect and to make headway in cooperation and mutual benefit. 

I submit Malaysia’s much vaunted racial and religious peace is a farce and is based on patronage and force to keep everybody in their place. This means UMNO will forever be in power if there is no new paradigm in Malaysia’s racial and religious harmony – a new paradigm that sees people honestly working within each others accepted ethical and spiritual value systems to achieve a deeper and stronger respect and acceptance for each other. 

It may after all not work. The commitment of Malaysians to work with each other to build a viable nation where every race and religion has its place in the sun may be too weak. Old habits of 52 years under UMNO rule may die harder with Malaysians than with other more adaptable people. Creating new paradigms may need creating new cultural and ethical values and Malaysians may not be capable, intelligent or strong enough for this. What do you think?