Fight for the Floyds of Malaysia, too

Bowler Shalin Zulkifli goes the extra mile to help others.Bowler Shalin Zulkifli goes the extra mile to help others.

A FEW days ago, my college-going niece talked about the racial issues behind the death of George Floyd in the United States.

On how police brutality led to a black man’s sad death, the violent protests that ensued on the streets and the outcry over injustice.

Why are racial issues still out there? How do we react to it? What can I do?

For one, she decided not to vent it out on social media platforms without having a full understanding of the situation.

She wanted to do the right thing, in the right way and I was proud. Not via violence, looting or shooting your mouth off without a care or concern for the feelings of others.

You will never regret doing what is right – whether if it is done openly or when no one is even watching.

That’s why it was also a proud moment for the sports fraternity when many top personalities stood in solidarity to show their support over the racial tensions in the US.

It was not their battle but they stepped out of their “own arenas” to fight for the rights of others.

England’s Jadon Sancho celebrated scoring a hattrick for Borussia Dortmund with a “Justice for George Floyd” message displayed on his striking yellow jersey.

The same stand was made and similar sentiments were echoed by golfing legend Tigers Woods, basketball great Michael Jordan, Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and Co, tennis stars Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff and a host of others. Standing up for others is noble – whether the issue is about racial discrimination, injustice, biased selection, corruption, abuse of power or when someone is oppressed and their rights violated.

All these hit close to home too.

As Malaysia grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic, many – including some local sporting stars – went out of their way to help the less privileged.

Former badminton star Lee Chong Wei donated to a mosque; national bowler Shalin Zulkifli rallied a donation drive to help others; there were national footballers who did their bit. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It was good to see the kind souls in Malaysian sports stepping up to help others.

But over the years, many other “sensitive” sports issues and incidents have been swept under the carpet, and are still being swept there.

Meanwhile, most athletes and officials have suffered in silence. It seems those who speak up for others are sent to the cold storage or victimised.

Few have spoken out about unfair selection, abuse of power and mismanagement of money, the reign and rule of little Napoleons but the conversation will always end like this “please, these are off the record.”

Athletes are bound by gag orders. Some coaches are helpless. They can only shout at press conferences. Others suffer in silence. And some just don’t care.

It’s tough. And it’s complicated. It’s so much easier to close one eye and keep going as though everything is fine when there are issues that need to be put right.

This is where we need to make a stand. And choose to do the right thing. Let’s not just celebrate when athletes cross the finishing line. Teach them to fight when someone else crosses the line of humanity.

> The writer salutes ustaz Ebit Lew who goes out of his way to help those struggling Malaysians of different religions, races and colour, so all have food to eat and a roof over their heads.

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