HE spoke about security in the region and strengthening bilateral ties between both nations.
Barack Obama was even asked about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, insisting US was not bullying Malaysia.
And during the press conference at Seri Perdana in Putrajaya on Sunday,
Obama joined a string of politicians and athletes as he condemned the
racist remarks which were apparently uttered by Los Angeles Clippers
owner Donald Sterling.
Obama called the remarks “incredibly offensive”.
“When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really
have to do anything, you just let them talk. That’s what happened
here,” he said.
The basketball tycoon hogged the limelight for the wrong reason over the
weekend after news website TMZ posted a 10-minute recording of what is
claimed to be a conversation between Sterling and his girlfriend Vanessa
Sterling had apparently said: “It bothers me a lot that you want to
broadcast that you’re association with black people ... I’m just saying,
in your ... Instagrams, you don’t need to have yourself with, walking
with black people.”
The National Basketball Association have initiated an investigation over the matter.
But racism in sports is nothing new.
'A lost war'?
Athletes, officials and even fans have been guilty of being racist and also victimised over racist issues.
Barcelona defender Dani Alves, who is often subjected to racist taunts,
had a banana thrown at him in the match against Villarreal on Sunday.
The Brazilian instead reacted by picking up the fruit and eating it before proceeding to take a corner kick.
He was quoted by AP as saying: “We have suffered this in Spain for some
time. You have to take it with a dose of humor. We aren’t going to
change things easily.
“If you don’t give it importance, they don’t achieve their objective.”
But in 2013, Alves admitted fighting racism was “a lost war”.
Such an issue has even cropped up in the M-League this season after
Pahang’s Jamaican defender Damion Stewart claimed he was subjected to
racial abuse by two Johor Darul Takzim import players during a Super
League match in Kuantan in February.
There was also claims fans had taunted Negri Sembilan forward Jean
Emmanuel Effa Owana with monkey chants during a Premier League match
against Police in March.
Those at the grassroots, till today, claim players are selected not based on their talents but skin-colour.
They also claim certain sports are dominated by a certain community.
But isn’t sports supposed to be colour-blind?
Unifying through sports
Much has been said about music and sports being a unifying factor for
mankind. History has taught us how certain events unfolded and where
people of various ethnic groups, colour, religion and background were
united through sports.
Former South Africa president Nelson Mandela used the 1995 rugby World Cup to unite a then divided nation, ending apartheid.
Back home, deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, had during
the Malaysia University Sports Council awards ceremony last year, said
sports must “continue to serve as an agent of unity in Malaysia”.
There will always be one or two self-centred racist bigots who choose to judge others by their colour or religion.
Let’s just pretend these ignorant people are “ill”, offer them a helping
hand and show them how colourful and beautiful sports is.
HARESH DEOL is editor (investigations and special projects) of The Malay Mail. Banter with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HareshDeol