Friday, November 4, 2011

Israeli Kickboxer in Malaysia

The “Muay Thai Challenger” – which brings 16 of the world’s best kickboxers in the same house to eat, sleep and train together, and in the evenings they fight in a ring in front of the cameras – is a sports reality TV show – recorded in Malaysia – that is currently airing all over Asia on the AXN channel.

Impudent embarrassment descended on the BN government because they allowed an Israeli kickboxer Ilya Grad (left) into Malaysia to participate in the said event. For those who don’t know, Malaysia is staunchly pro-Palestine and anti-Israel and Malaysians are permitted to travel to any country in the world except Israel while we as a country legally bans the entry of Israelis.

Yet, Grad – the 2010 Asia champion and the second runner-up in the world championship – was allowed to enter Malaysia and even wave his country’s flag. In fact, The Sun reproduced a report from Ynetnews.com that “the Malaysian sports minister personally intervened… The Israeli boxer was eventually allowed to enter the country and received a special visa, but his passport was not stamped” (Webpage http://www.thesundaily.my/news/196924, published November 03, 2011).

Grad told the Israeli news portal: "The fact that I was allowed to enter Malaysia took us one step forward toward a life of peace, and yet I felt like I was behind enemy lines. But I can say for sure that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me."

But this kind of stuff is not something you can tuck away quietly in the closet – it is on Astro lah! – and so our parliamentarians dutifully protested, making the dust fly. Putrajaya was then compelled on Tuesday to defend their decision to allow Grad into the country and trying to convince everybody else that barring him entry would have resulted in a boycott by athletes from pro-Israel nations (Webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/litee/malaysia/article/putrajaya-defends-move-to-allow-israeli-kickboxer-entry/, published November 01, 2011).

Furthermore, it was claimed that although Malaysia does not have ties with Israel, exceptions to the rule could be made for events of international significance like sports meets. And that the entry of Israel nationals into Malaysia would be allowed but done in a “low-profile” manner and without publicity! What stupidity is this? Anything newsworthy will be reported irregardless.

Let's not harbor any false pretenses. Just because Malaysia does not have any diplomatic relations with Israel does not mean that the latter will disappear into thin air. It is a sovereign country whether we care to admit or not. Just because we support the Palestinians’ right to self-determination does not mean that we should paint all Israelis with the same brush of Zionism. After all, it is worth remembering that Israel has established and maintained relations with 163 nations around the world (Webpage http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3581.htm, accessed November 04, 2011) – including our neighbours: Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore and Philippines.

Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad called this decision a “huge mistake”, claiming it would turn Malaysia into a laughingstock. I agree because if we want to take the moral high ground, yet for expediencey sake, we make exceptions – then our principles have just flown out of the window, light as a feather. We don’t practice what we preach, kan? Doesn’t this sound depressingly Malaysian? We are like that, aren’t we? We talk big but it’s all empty rhetoric!

Besides, why are we politicizing sports? And since we didn't stamp Grad’s passport – what we have done is manipulating his entry into the country just so that we can officially deny he ever came to Malaysia! This reminds me of the Altantuya Shaariibuu’s murder case where her own immigration records were erased to cover some VVIP’s tracks.

Again, another good example of Malaysia Boleh!

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