The national basketball association has cocked up big time and everyone is up in arms about it. The question is - is the reaction fair and expected, or is it over the top? In other news, a university graduate gets into trouble for a Nazi salute while the schism within PKR just continues to grow and grow, as if we expected anything less. And, lastly, a great leap forward in our national education system (we hope).

Flagging support for MABA

Much ado about nothing?

The Malaysian Basketball Association (MABA) got into a shitload of trouble thanks to a gaffe of epic proportions. At the opening ceremony of the 28th MABA Milo Lum Mun Chak Cup, a graphic of the Malaysian flag was displayed during the singing of the national anthem. ‘Cept this wasn’t the Jalur Gemilang.

What was displayed was something close to the national flag, except instead of the 14-pointed star, we had a five-pointed star. Basically, if the Malaysian flag married the Liberian flag and had a baby flag, this would be it. The flag also had the wrong number of stripes apparently, but nobody really counts those, do they?

Anyhoo, netizens roundly slammed MABA for the shameful mistake. The association has since apologised and fired the company contracted to livestream the event. Rightly so, of course.

But, some people have been going bananas over the incident.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, for once speaking about some actually related to his ministry, got his knickers in a twist calling it “very shameful” (fair enough – it was) and that it doesn’t reflect Malaysian culture (what’s this got to do with Malaysian culture?). And of course, he promised a “detailed investigation” into the incident.

Which we assume means at least five different committees will be formed to tell us what we already know – that somebody in the livestream company was an idiot and a great many people in MABA were careless.

Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan, meanwhile, put on his nationalist shorts and also hit out at MABA. saying the whole episode goes to show some people take the country for granted, even after 62 years of independence.

Then things began to get out of hand. Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah got into the act, saying that his ministry would investigate the fiasco as well!

What’s this issue got to do with foreign policy??!? Saifuddin’s ministry didn’t get involved when we, as hosts of the 2017 Sea Games, printed the Indonesian flag upside down in an official booklet. Khairy Jamaluddin, then Youth and Sports Minister, apologised but neither he nor the foreign minister launch an investigation.

Back to MABA – even the cops got involved in the shitstorm, with KL police chief Mazlan Lazim calling the association president as well as the contractor in for questioning. Now, Mazlan didn’t say if a police report had been lodged against MABA, but lodging police reports left, right and centre is really part of Malaysian culture, isn’t it?

Look, it was a right shameful mistake. Downright embarrassing even, and MABA deserves all the scorn coming their way.

But is it a big enough mistake to warrant two ministry probes as well as a police investigation? What next? Draw and quarter ’em? Hang ’em for treason? Put them in front of a firing squad? Don’t we all have better things to do with our time? After all, even the brilliant folks at Apple got the Malaysian flag wrong for emojis in iOS 13.1.

What’s funny is that the same people like Syed Saddiq, who are losing their minds over this, aren’t upset that racial politics is shameful. And we don’t hear Mohamad Hasan talking about people who are corrupt, steal and abuse their power taking our country for granted.

But then again, the opportunity to show their “patriotism” and project outrage is surely a boon for politicians. What better way to show your love for the country and to deflect attention from the usual bunch of crises than to jump on something like this?

Adolf, I wuv you

Speaking of netizens going ape-shit, a Universiti Malaysia Sabah student caused a horrifying stir when he gave a Nazi salute and praised the regime responsible for World War II during his convocation ceremony recently.

The unnamed student, apparently, was showing his support for Palestinians in Gaza and proudly displayed anti-Semitic behaviour, even going so far as to thank Adolf Hitler for killing millions of Jews.

While any peaceable, justice-loving person should be against what is happening in the Gaza strip, praising an one of the worst regimes in history, which was responsible for the deaths of millions of people, is stupid and racist as hell.

This graduate may have a degree, but it’s doubtful he’s actually learned anything. This isn’t a tit for tat game in which we say it’s good Hitler killed the Jews because of what they’re doing to the Palestinians. That eye-for-an-eye logic just leaves the whole world blind.

Blaming all Jews for the Gaza horrors perpetrated by their government is akin to blaming all Muslims for terror groups such as ISIS or al-Qaeda. We get angry when there is Islamophobia (as well we should), but we are OK when Jews are blamed for the Israeli regime’s atrocities?

But we can’t just blame this fresh grad when we have a known anti-Semite as a leader. PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad has spoken out many times against Jews. Not the Zionist regime, mind you. No, he’s spoken out against Jews and has come in for a lot of flak for it, even to the point of having protests held against him.

Here’s what’s odd though: People went blue in the face calling for a Universiti Malaya student to have his degree withheld for protesting racism in his own country, but one who expressed support for a racist regime helmed by a murderous maniac seems to have been met with a far quieter reaction.

Let’s not forget that Hitler wasn’t just against Jews. If you weren’t blond and blue-eyed, or anyone who wasn’t deemed Aryan, you weren’t worthy of his Reich

A house (still) divided

What’s become of the Pakatan party with the most number of seats in Parliament?

PKR continues to be a house divided, with several leaders, in particular grassroots leaders, calling for the sacking of central leadership council member Zakaria Abdul Hamid to be reversed. They said the sacking was undemocratic, considering Zakaria wasn’t even allowed to defend himself, and that it was based on a letter mistakenly sent by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over allegations against him.

VP Tian Chua also came out in support of Zakaria and another member expelled along with the latter, saying the party had adopted heavy-handed tactics.

President Anwar Ibrahim, meanwhile, says the allegations against Zakaria made in the letter were so serious that they could not be ignored. Hence, the sacking. But the fact remains that these were mere allegations, and Zakaria had not been charged with anything.

Secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail later said the party president and himself could not annul the decision as the party constitution did not allow such a thing. However, he did say anyone who had been sacked could appeal the decision to the central leadership council within 14 days.

It should be pointed out that those speaking out against the sacking are said to be aligned to PKR deputy president Azmin Ali. The reported spat between Azmin and Anwar is said to be behind the infighting in the party.

For those who missed it, we said yesterday that the divisions within PKR were becoming worse, and the infighting is only becoming more and more apparent. You can expect more reports in the coming days, particularly with the party’s national convention being held between Dec 5 and 7 in Melaka.

Good things come in STEM packages?

Science or Art? Looks like our students are still gonna have to choose to some extent. The Education Ministry yesterday clarified that come January, upper secondary students will not be going streamless (apparently, the streaming policy was abolished in 2000! Who knew?) as initially promised. Instead, they will get to choose between four packages offering core subjects like BM, Eng and History (Sorry, there’s no escaping Kelas Moral for non-Muslims), with various electives.

As part of his personal Vision 2020 (along with free breakfasts), Education Minister Dr Mazslee Malik initially announced schools will be going streamless for Form 4 and 5. Instead, the Science and Arts (and whatever else) streams were to be replaced with Stream (Science, Technology, Reading, Arts, Music) education. 

And yesterday, along with telling us there’ve been no streams for almost 2 decades, the ministry announced that it’s now Stem and not Stream and told us what exactly would constitute the Stem (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) packages students get to choose from. You can get the detailed breakdown by Malaysiakini here.

The idea is to accommodate for cross-sectional learning. In plain English, that means kids to mix subjects from other streams that could complement their main subjects, that suit them or are relevant to their career choice. 

Jolly good. All brilliant so far. But one phrase is worrying. You see, the Kasut Hitam ministry was quick to say availability of these all elective subjects would depend on the teachers and facilities at each school. 

We really hope MoE undertook a comprehensive assessment of schools’ capabilities in offering students as many options as possible. Or else, it’s really an exercise in futility as the whole idea behind this will be wasted if our kids are not really given all or as many subject choices. Remember POL? Kids in decades past were supposed to be able to learn Tamil, Mandarin, etc (hence People’s Own Languages) but in many cases, it proved to be a free period in many schools as there were no teachers available.

So a great idea ended up gathering dust due to lack of planning. We owe it to our kids to not repeat mistakes past and and ensure the right Stem ecosystem is in place to support kids’ education and their dreams.

Odds and ends

Here are some other things which happened yesterday that we thought you should read about:

  • A consulting firm that was to receive a RM10 million commission for facilitating Felda Investment Corporation’s (FIC) purchase of the Merdeka Palace Hotel in Kuching gave RM9 million in kickbacks to a political fund in Sarawak. Zoinks!
  • The Dewan Rakyat has extended the deadline for MPs to declare their assets to Dec 5. Yet another thing Malaysia is well known for: extending deadlines.
  • The UK Court of Appeal has allowed a motion from Malaysia for the London High Court to hear a bid to nullify a consent award involving 1MDB and Saudi companies International Petroleum Investment Company and Aabar Investments PJS.
  • Chin Peng is back. Well, kind of. The ashes of the one-time Communist Party of Malaya head honcho was brought back to Malaysia and scattered in the seas and the jungles recently. JIbby Razak has, naturally, grabbed the opportunity to take a potshot at Pakatan, while the Home Ministry is pissed off that they were not informed. 

“Racism isn't born, folks, it's taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.”

- Denis Leary -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • This year’s edition of the Sea Games could be labeled the worst ever. Several venues are said to be unfinished, prompting changes in location, and worst of all, Muslim athletes have been served pork.
  • The US House Judiciary Committee is set to take over impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump on Dec 4.
  • Thousands of Palestinians took part in protests throughout Gaza over the US’s decision to declare that it no longer believes Israeli settlements in the West Bank are against international law.
  • More than 20 people have been killed in an earthquake in Albania. The death toll is expected to go up.
  • Ever wonder what are the top movies directed by women? Wonder no more as BBC Culture breaks down the Top 100 for you.

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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