LAST week, a number of people were upset about two things: First, my very vocal insistence that Floyd Mayweather would beat Manny Pacquiao and second, my equally vocal celebration when he did.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of the Pacman. I admire his discipline, courage and meteoric rise from poverty to global sports icon and possibly, even future Philippine president.
Unfortunately, I felt the Pacman was more of a media sensation and overly hyped because he’s a decent family man and incidentally, also a good Christian — two traits that are nice to have but completely unrelated to boxing!
Being a media darling with a half a billion fans in Southeast Asia may have its advantages but somehow, I still knew that he wouldn’t win.
Because the pressure from the Philippines would be just too great!
So when the moment of truth came, Manny used a predictable but disastrous game plan — to charge in like a bull, beat Floyd up and hope to knock him out before the bell rang.
Unfortunately, that won’t work on someone built like a tank. The more Floyd ran circles and waltzed past Manny, the more frustrated he got, eventually raining more and more punches with the angst of a rodeo bull.
After the seventh round, I wondered if Manny thought he was taking part in a “Street Fighter” competition instead!
On the other hand, Mayweather was the consummate intellectual, employing a brilliant tactical strategy of “evade, escape and strike”, which the Los Angeles Times described as a “defensive masterclass”.
The manner in which he outwitted the Pacman was pure genius, despite the latter’s ferocious late charge, which of course was more appealing to watch.
Unfortunately, boxing is not about beating the other guy to a pulp.
It is an art, about the ability to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”, to quote boxing’s living legend Muhammad Ali.
In other words, a real boxing champion must be both butterfly and bee, light-footed, floating in a calm and unpredictable “devil-may-care” manner, yet constantly seeking that one opportunity to sting.
Like most sports, boxing teaches us about life. More than life, it teaches us about politics as well.
Ok, enough about boxing. Let’s talk about politics and for starts, let me congratulate the Sarawak CM (since he prefers to avoid the long litany of official titles) for employing the “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” strategy recently when engaging political opponents.
No, I am not talking about his verbal boxing match with DAP’s Chong Chieng Jen in the recent State Legislative Assembly sitting, although Chong did come in charging like the Pacman at every round of questioning, forcing the CM to float like Floyd first before stinging Chong with his witty rebuttals.
I am referring to the CM’s recent meeting with NGOs in London, which to an extent, stung traditional opponents of the state government’s efforts to conserve forests, including the Bruno Manser Foundation and Radio Free Sarawak.
It surprised many, since NGOs were hitherto perceived to be overly critical of the government, turning every log felled into a permanent thorn in the state government’s flesh – or if I may, a dunking for every dam built.
But this is not unusual. By definition, the word NGO - non-governmental organisation - implies that there cannot be government representation in their organisation.
So both have been at opposite ends of the political ring and to be fair, many NGOs have been prejudicial towards government efforts towards betterment, whether it’s to improve efficiency, end corruption, reduce waste or in this case, conserve forests.
NGOs have traditionally viewed governments from a prejudiced angle. Unfortunately, governments have also done very little to disappoint that prejudice, which is why both sides have wasted too much time and energy parrying shots from each other!
Often, governments repeat the mistake of charging into the ring like a bull, slamming all sorts of restrictions, rules and punitive measures whenever NGOs as much as criticise them or start asking questions.
The irony is that both parties are fighting to achieve the same goal: The preservation of the environment!
So if the objective is the same, then it’s obviously the battle strategy that seems to be the problem, which is why it was necessary for CM to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” when facing them on their turf.
By engaging them in their own corner and floating over the distractions of unnecessary conflict, yet stinging prejudices with an honest and frank setting of ground rules, the CM has demonstrated that it is possible to disagree and yet work together to the betterment of all.
With such positive engagement, “Manny” other governments may also weather their respective conflict resolution initiatives with people who disagree with them.
Once again, syabas CM!