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Football, Politics, and the Press

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  • Sg_Review@yahoogroups.com
    From: (Mr) Law Sin Ling To: Singapore Review 1 April 2004 Football, Politics, and the Press Football is a sport which never fails to arouse passion worldwide,
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2004
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      From: (Mr) Law Sin Ling
      To: Singapore Review
      1 April 2004

      Football, Politics, and the Press

      Football is a sport which never fails to arouse passion worldwide,
      even in socio-politically passionless Singapore. Since the days when
      Singapore was participating in the Malaysian football league
      competition, Singaporeans have consistently identified their sense of
      patriotism with their unconditional support of the national team.

      The local government-controlled media has always reinforced this
      nationalistic instinct with its fervent, albeit at times excessive
      coverage. This propensity was witnessed on each occasion when the
      Singapore team ran into a crucial high-stake encounter with its
      Malaysian arch-rival. The press would not fail to stoke the animosity
      between the fans and players from the 2 sides with its prominent
      exhortations and "incidental" news. The themes of "Cheer if you love
      your country" and "Forget ALL your worries, Singaporeans unite behind
      our boys" became the order of the day. The short-term significance of
      such propagandistic distractions from the important socio-political
      subjects of the day cannot be downplayed, especially if it may cause
      considerable offence bordering on political gaffe.

      A day after the Singapore team was defeated by the visiting team from
      Japan in the recent World Cup Qualifier contest, a readers' forum
      letter titled "Don't let down guard against Japanese militarists" was
      published in an untimely fashion. This letter was in a reply to a
      commentary which debuted in the paper dated nearly 3 weeks before!
      The letter essentially warned of a potential rise in Japanese
      militarism, a sensitive topic which had plagued the Japanese psyche
      for decades. A day later, a news article titled "Nakata, where's your
      humility and respect?" was published. This latter made a meal of the
      apparent arrogant disposition of the world-renowned captain of the
      Japanese team towards his fan, sponsors, and reporters. The article
      ended with the provocative sentence "But when he comes home to Asia,
      he must not forget the Asian culture of humility, respect and
      gratitude", an unmistakable insinuation to certain general Japanese
      attitude towards Asians (a key reason why Japan had been less than
      successful in their reconciliation with victims of their World War 2
      policies). Sore losers otherwise, the politically keen Japanese
      (players) would not have missed the innuendo.

      It is wholly pathetic and dangerous that a national paper, the
      veritable mouthpiece of the reigning government, drops all its
      sensibility and objectivity in favour of "extra-diplomatic
      manoeuvres" in matters of international relations. Singaporeans
      should be very concerned when the national press subverts the true
      sentiments of the people, even if it had been executed behind the
      fa├žade of an emotional sport.

      (Mr) Law Sin Ling
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