KOTA KINABALU: Sabahans should not get too hot and be bothered by whatever the Malaysian football team is called.
“There was neither any Sabahan nor Sarawakian player listed in the Malaysian football team that won the AFF Suzuki Cup anyway. So why should we ride on their success?” asked former Tourism Ministry’s permanent secretary, Datuk Wilfred Lingham. According to Lingham, there is no big deal as to what name the team is called and Sabahans should let the matter rest and be just happy with the success of the Malaysian team.“It is no big deal … just leave it as that,” he said, adding that it was embarrassing for Sabahans to harp on the issue because it is the right of the football team to call themselves whatever they want.
“It is a hard fact to accept that to some people from Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak do not exist. But it remains a fact that everyone must accept,” he continued. Lingham who is an avid football fan, also pointed out the fact that there is no tiger in Borneo except for the ‘harimau dahan’ or the clouded leopards.
On the argument that the name of the team nullified the whole 1Malaysia concept, Lingham replied, “well, it means that we have to work harder on ensuring that the 1Malaysia concept is accepted and understood by all.”
He said this when commenting on the statements made by Sabahans such as Assistant Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Jahid Jahim, Sabah Youth Council president Kevin Lim and the United Pasokmomogun KadazanDusun Murut Organisation (UPKO) deputy president Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Bumburing over their unhappiness with the use of the name ‘Harimau Malaya’ to refer to the Malaysian football team.
Jahid had told reporters that “being Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports, the youths of the state have been calling me to express their disappointments over the use of ‘Harimau Malaya’ to refer to the national football team instead of ‘Harimau Malaysia’. I feel there is a basis to their feelings since it does not portray the ideals of the 1Malaysia concept introduced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak …’Harimau Malaysia’ should have been used,” he said.
Jahid who is also Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Youth chief, said the mainstream media, especially the editors, should be more responsible when using such sensitive words since ‘Malaya’ connotes the omission of Sabah and Sarawak.
Meanwhile, Bumburing when expressing his disappointment said, “this is a Malaysian team. Why is Borneo left out? In fact the term nullifies the whole 1Malaysia concept and it means Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia concept had not permeated into the rank and file of the Malaysian society. The Tuaran member of parliament pointed out that there was such intensity in the campaigns to tell Malaysians about the 1Malaysia concept with the “1Malaysia” word now a favoured logo or brand throughout the country.
“Almost everything carries the 1Malaysia logo, from bottled water to specially crafted batik and to even tissue papers. But, it is disappointing that all the efforts do not seem to have the desired effects since there are still people who do not remember that Sabah and Sarawak are part of the country. It also reflects that there are still a lot of people who have yet to accept the 1Malaysia concept,” he said.
Bumburing added that merely for the reason that there was neither any Sabahan nor Sarawakian in the national football team does not justify calling the team ‘Harimau Malaya’. “If they want to leave out the two Borneo states, I suggest that Sabah and Sarawak combine together to form a football team and enter the AFF Suzuki Cup tournament and call it ‘Harimau Borneo’,” he said.
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