Hornbill Unleashed

August 10, 2012

Going for gold: proud to be Malaysian?

Pak Bui

We are proud of Pandelela Rinong Pamg, a 19 year old Bidayuh girl, for winning Sarawak’s first ever Olympic medal, taking bronze in the 10m individual platform diving event. We hope the happy girl is not forced to campaign for Najib and Taib in the upcoming general elections.

We are also proud of the sporting achievements of Lee Chong Wei, the most successful Olympian in our country’s history. He is also the only Malaysian badminton player to have been world number one for more than a couple of weeks, since the rankings system began a quarter of a century ago. He truly deserves our respect for his achievements on the court.

He has been a great ambassador for the game: talented, amiable, hardworking, mostly adept at avoiding conflict, humble, if a little diffident – and easily manipulated. In this sense, he is perhaps typical of many ordinary Malaysians like you and me.

But Pandelela and Lee are different in one important sense. Lee has come in for some stick, for appearing in publicity photos with Andrew Kam, chairperson and CEO of Peninsular Gold Limited. Kam offered Lee and other national badminton players a RM2 million gold bar as an “incentive” for winning the Olympics men’s singles.

Peninsular Gold is a holding company based in Jersey, a tax haven off England’s coast. If tax evasion were an Olympic event, Jersey would have a fair shot at finishing among the medals. Nationalism may extend to sports but not, it seems, to paying taxes.

Peninsular Gold basks in the reflected glory of Tengku Nong Fatimah Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah, the daughter of the Sultan of Pahang.

“The Princess and family are also shareholders of Peninsular Gold Limited,” the company proudly announced, following its London Stock Exchange listing in 2005. Tengku Nong Fatimah’s former husband, Mohamed Moiz bin JM Ali Moiz, for example, is listed as owning 5.2% of Peninsular Gold.

Peninsular Gold owns Raub Australian Gold Mine and SEREM, two companies awarded rights to mine gold in Pahang. It is understandably “proud of its association with Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Pahang (PKNP), the Pahang State Development Corporation, for its joint-venture arrangements in the ground-holding position of SEREM comprising certain gold exploration and mining titles.”

Peninsular Gold’s website may boast of “sustainable gold mining practices with utmost sensitivity to the needs of the local community and to the environment“, but local Raub residents are furious, complaining of widespread ill health following the use of cyanide in the extraction process.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia has called for a full investigation into the mysterious death in 2009 of Chong Sow Pin, one of four local litigants in a lawsuit filed against the Raub gold-diggers the year before.

After being rebuffed by the Pahang state government, the health ministry and the courts, Bukit Koman residents and a broad spectrum of supporters will hold a rally against the gold mine on September 2 in Raub.

Nationalism surges ahead

Nationalistic emotion has been on overdrive during Malaysia’s participation in the ongoing Olympic games.

Politicians from both the BN and the DAP have championed national shuttlers, competing to offer him embarrassing riches.

Lee Chong Wei, national cyclist Mohd Azizulhasni Awang, diver Yeoh Ken Nee and other Malaysian athletes have quietly achieved great personal pride in these Games, living up to the much-quoted Olympian spirit of human values: striving for excellence, international friendship, self-sacrifice and fair play.

Indeed, Lee allowed his nemesis Lin Dan to embrace him (twice) after he lost narrowly in the final. Lee gamely put up with Lin Dan’s over-the-top celebrations: these included sprinting around the arena, saluting the crowd ceremonially and ripping his shirt off (twice).

Azizulhasni, the ‘Pocket Rocket Man‘, came in second to eventual gold medallist Chris Hoy in his opening heat in the ‘keirin’ cycling event, then came in sixth in the final. His achievement was, however, described by a Malaysian reporter as having “failed miserably”.

Yeoh was the first Malaysian diver ever to qualify for the Olympic final round. He and other divers did not receive the hysterical ‘flash-in-the-pan’ attention from ministers’ wives traditionally reserved for gold prospects in badminton.

Lee, Azizulhasni, Yeoh, as well as Sarawakian Olympians Pandelela Rinong, Bryan Nickson Lomas and Traisy Vivien Tukiet, and other competitors, have shown us the Olympic spirit has not been entirely buried under an avalanche of chest-beating nationalists, self-promoting professional athletes, beady-eyed sponsors and lawyers asserting ‘intellectual property’ over the Games.

Mythical nations, real nationalism

Nationalism has won the race for dominance in the Olympics, edging out the simple desire to participate and compete fairly as the main driving force.

Nationalism, according to writers Ernest Gellner and Eric Hobsbawm, is “primarily a principle which holds that the political and national unit should be congruent.”

Both these eminent professors stress the “element of artifact, invention and social engineering which enters into the making of nations.”

Nationalism is an artificial emotion, that achieved primacy worldwide in the 19th century, with the spread of the European concept of ‘nation states’. The global dominance of this emotion has, unsurprisingly, coincided with the resurgence of the ancient Olympic games.

Today, the jingoism paraded in our mass media has overwhelmed our appreciation of Olympic sport.

“Nations as a natural, God-given way of classifying men, as an inherent…political destiny, are a myth; nationalism, which sometimes takes pre-existing cultures and turns them into nations, sometimes invents them, and often obliterates pre-existing cultures: that is a reality,” Gellner wrote.

In our local context, we are still struggling with our fledgling nation-state, as defined by those in political power, dominating all cultures, as the Orang Asli, Sabahans and Sarawakians and other marginalised cultures will attest.

After the cups, the medals, the trophies, among the precious metals, among some talk of you and me, what does it truly mean to be proud to be Malaysian?


  1. “JUMP! Don’t be afraid to jump if you want to see the world.”
    – Pandelela’s father “words of encouragement”

    read more her story at:

    Comment by magnum5583 — August 11, 2012 @ 12:08 AM | Reply

    • Time to jump ship from UMNO PBB BN to opposition of your choice!

      Comment by anon — August 11, 2012 @ 9:36 AM | Reply

  2. Very likely Pandelela will be used by BN, just like they have used Datuk LCW.
    Money talks!
    That’s why Sabah & Sarawak will continue to be a safe deposit for BN.
    Sad but true.

    I hope the Bersih spirit will reach East Malaysia!!!

    Comment by Mizz Bidayuh — August 10, 2012 @ 7:06 PM | Reply

    • Congratulations to LCW And PANDELELA…ESPECIALLY TO PANDELELA. She is SO STRONG in her I – CAN – ATTITUDE…Without the MORONS IN the POLITICIANS AROUND HER , she has already enough of the pressure to perform…NO , she don’t need and I hope she will never need the morons , ever !!

      She can be as good as NICOLE DAVID SIMPLY BECAUSE BOTH OF THEM ARE INDEPENDENT OF the politicians. Without the leeches in the politicians surrounding LCW , the gold could had been his…Don’t you agreed?

      As a forewarn to Pandelela , don’t be surprised if the morons approach you in secret…if you can’t avoid them , make sure that it is YOU and YOU alone who is setting the terms and NOT, ACCORDING TO THEIR TERMS . YOU WILL BE REPRESENTING EAST MALAYSIA . GOD BLESS YOU Pandelela and may you grow from strength to strength.

      Comment by sainteres — August 10, 2012 @ 11:35 PM | Reply

  3. Malaysians of all races and religions have always been respectful of each other culture and religion and have always been united as Malaysians until Mahathir Mohamad became the country’s 4th PM who set about to destroy the nation in his divide and rule policy under the pretext of promoting Malay supremacy and achieving 30% Malay equity in commerce and trade. The Malays had been shortchanged and deceived ever since.

    Comment by Effendi Nawawi — August 10, 2012 @ 6:30 PM | Reply


    Comment by VINCENT AK PAUL — August 10, 2012 @ 3:18 PM | Reply

  5. What happen to the pregnant “good-for-nothing”?

    Comment by tigeryk — August 10, 2012 @ 3:15 PM | Reply

    • Ha ha ha ha… thats a 1Malaysia Boleh joke. I hope i didn’t pay for the Husband’s ticket,did you? But seriously, just how could anyone so very pregnant concerntrate on a game like shooting which requires intense concerntration? Malaysia BOLEH?

      Comment by Brian — August 14, 2012 @ 2:42 PM | Reply

  6. We are proud of Pandelela Rinong Pamg, a 19 year old Bidayuh girl, for winning Sarawak’s first ever Olympic medal

    Comment by ANTI-MALAYAN COLONIALISM — August 10, 2012 @ 2:13 PM | Reply


    You have shown that Sarawakians can also be winners when they want to…

    (“real Sarawakians” are those who have betrayed Sarawak and its people and sold out to UMNO Malaya like Taib PBB BN and his whole thieving gang of robbers and environmental vandals!)

    Comment by SARAWAKIANS — August 10, 2012 @ 2:12 PM | Reply

    • “real Sarawakians” are NOT those who have betrayed Sarawak …”

      Comment by SARAWAKIANS — August 10, 2012 @ 9:41 PM | Reply


    Who wants to be a proud “Malaysian” when all it means for us in Sabah and Sarawak is not just our own Sabah Sarawak nationalism marginalization but stifled by “Malayanization” and colonization?

    So what is so great to be “Malaysian”?

    It is jingoism when used by UMNO BN to bask in borrowed glory but we have nothing to be proud of as colonial subjects!

    Comment by ANGRY DAYAK — August 10, 2012 @ 1:04 PM | Reply

  9. ONLY a handful of Malaysia’s athletics deserved to be Olympians of the nation. As for the officials accompanying the Malaysia’s contingent, all of them are useless and hopeless.

    Comment by Richard Song — August 10, 2012 @ 12:58 PM | Reply

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