We can be rivals, but not enemies.

When I was thinking of what to write for my next article, I came across a news article about the ‘Fantastic Four’ of the badminton world. It was about the four of the world’s greatest badminton players, who have retired in the last decade. Peter Gade-Christensen, Taufik Hidayat, Lin Dan and of course our fellow Malaysian Lee Chong Wei.

With the majority of Malaysians being so interested in the badminton game, I do not have to write further about the story and achievements of these four great sportsmen.

But I begin my article by writing about them, because I am amazed by the spirit of these four people, or most of the athletes in the world. Obviously, they are from four different countries, always competing with each other to be the number one player of all. Despite being rivals on the court, they were never enemies. We have rarely heard of any controversy among them. They were all focusing only on growing themselves and developing the game in many different ways.

We even hardly hear any of them criticizing each other. When they lose in a game, the only thing they do is to reflect on their weakness, go back and train harder.

That’s the beauty of the world of sports. 

It’s a total opposite in the political world though. They criticise each other every day. They make sarcastic jokes against each other. They argue with each other because they are from different ‘teams’. 

Their only goal is to make sure their competitor loses. You may say that in sports, the goal of the athlete is to win as well. But athletes work towards victory by making sure they do better than their competitor, and not by creating controversies and criticizing them.

‘Political enemy’ belongs to a conventional mentality of a politician, and it should be the past. This type of mindset should be discarded. We have to cultivate a political culture that our main enemy is inequality, inefficient governance, unemployment, income gap, economic challenges, environmental destruction and many other issues that we face as one community, and not another political party.

This old thinking is all around in every political party, even in Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia. When I advocated for ideologies and issues; there are these ‘old folk’ that would tell me that advocating for ideologies and issues are the work of NGOs. Or telling me that our enemy is DAP. 

If we are not campaigning for good public policies and ideologies, then what does a political party do? That is where we tell people what is our direction and vision for our nation. 

Although in Penang, DAP has been our bitter rival, but we shouldn’t be enemies. If there are good policies by the Government, then we should laud it. If there are bad decisions, then we criticise the issue, not the party. 

I have always believed that young people should team up together to push for a new political culture. We have recently seen the boost of young people’s interest in governance and politics through various programs organised. When they are still fresh and new, we must cultivate a new political culture with them, and not tainted or influenced by the old ways of politics.

We have to practice the spirit of the athletes that I have mentioned, they may be fighting to be the number one, but all for the development of badminton. That is the mindset that we must plant in politics.

To my political rivals out there;

We can be rivals, but we should fight on who develops our nation better, and not who have more controversies.

We can be rivals, we may be debating often, but not arguing sarcastically.

We can be rivals, but we must also work together for the benefit of the nation.

We can be rivals, but we are not enemies.

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 14 July 2020.