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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

So what if Faiz Subri can't speak?



There are some who take issue with the fact that Fifa's 2016 Puskas Award winner, Faiz Subri, can't speak properly in the tongue of our former colonial masters.
There were those who cringed that Faiz had to fidget and fiddle with his phone as he delivered his heartfelt message on his proud win for delivering one of the most beautiful goals in football last year.
And there were those who thought that his delivery would have been more dignified had he done so in a more sophisticated elocution, after reading it off a piece of carefully folded paper kept in his jacket pocket, instead of reading it off the newfangled device called mobile phone.
Granted that English is one of the major languages of the world and it is one of the languages that Fifa operates in.
But language is more than mere eloquence, nor is it just the ability to wow others with your diction and diphthong triumphs.
It is also about decorum and the ability to properly communicate one's message within the context of timing and conscience.
After all, as the anglophile in me would say, being a gentleman is not only about language, but manners too.
As William Horman, headmaster of Eton and Winchester College during the Tudor period, wrote in his Latin grammar textbook Vulgaria, "manners maketh man".
Though that specific line was perhaps made more accessible to the current generation via the movie “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, being one of the lines eloquently delivered by Harry Hart, one of the principal characters in the movie played by British actor Colin Firth.
Not many can match his win
And it is good manners I think, to give Faiz due credit for his win, for his achievement which not many Malaysians can probably match, and maybe never will again.
It is true that Faiz struggled with his acceptance speech, but it should not be allowed to detract and steal the thunder from his achievement.
After all, as the Crown Prince of Johor Tengku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim had predicted, politicians are already lining up to try and steal his limelight, hoping to use his fame as political polish.
And it is perhaps not the done thing to compare Faiz with a politician whose lack in public speaking is but one of many failings, the majority of which involves the loss of our rights and the country's wealth, not to mention international shame.
Faiz may have struggled with his speech, but he never brought our country shame in the eyes of the world, unlike the politicians who told us to tighten our belts and yet went off gallivanting on luxurious holidays in private jets.
We have every reason to be proud of him, even if it is only an individual achievement, and as some argue, still does nothing to improve our standard of football as a whole.
Yes, there are a lot of dreary details in the truth that is Malaysia's lot, our plummeting standards of English, issues with the education system, declining football performance and what not.

And we probably shouldn't get started on our human rights record, currency and economic well-being.
But despite the dark days that seem to lay before us, there are patches of sunlight and calm that we can and should use to rally around, to remember that Malaysia can be great again, though we probably shouldn't elect someone like US president-elect Donald Trump for us to be so.
And Faiz's win, is one of those brief shining moments that we should all celebrate, and not fret over the small stuff.

HAZLAN ZAKARIA is a member of the Malaysiakini Team.- Mkini

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