Skip to main content

HARESH SAYS: As long as you are ‘able’...

As published in Malay Mail today

By Haresh Deol

SO should we just chain ourselves to trees, I asked environmentalist Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil at the sidelines of the recent KL Fashion Week.

The Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Sekitar (Peka) president broke into a smile while her associates, who were seated  on the same table, laughed.

In a classy blue dress, accompanied by a tiara on her head, Sabrina looked like an Arabian princess from a Walt Disney movie as we discussed something close to our hearts —Mother Nature.

She apologised for being “overly” dressed, stressing it was her way of showing support to the fashion show. But she was certainly not sorry over her sharp criticism of the authorities in protecting the environment.

There are those who have rubbished Sabrina’s work, and those who speak ill about the work of Peka and similar NGOs. Environmental activists are often seen as those with nothing better to do expect to go against any form of development.

“People often forget where they come from. If we don’t protect nature, then there will be no future for our children,” she said.

“I’ve had issues with politicians, even royalty. Trees are being chopped and land cleared indiscriminately. It takes centuries to make a jungle and only days to destroy it.

“They think we oppose development. We don’t. We just want a balance between development and nature.”

Sabrina’s words rang in my ears as I drove to work on Monday. I left Ampang at 7.25am and reached Petaling Jaya at 8.45am. It was a slow drive, not due to heavy traffic but because of poor visibility.

The haze may have blurred my vision, but I could see clearly how the average man-on-the-street  is suffering.

Motorcyclists tied bandanas around their faces while some motorists drove with face masks despite their windows wound up tight. 

Even animals are suffering. Birds are hardly flying while my pet dog has been sneezing since the air got bad. 

It’s an annual affair. Large tracts of land are being cleared in Indonesia as the authorities there continuously combat peat fires. Winds bring smog to Malaysia and Singapore, causing citizens to suffer. 

This has been going on for decades. Governments play the blame game. Yet, no one is able to do anything. Nothing has been done.

People fall sick and work productivity is affected. The same cycle is repeated the following year. When will this stop?

If Asean is all about unity and togetherness, then the nations concerned should end such suffering. To say Malaysia and Singapore enjoy good air for 11 months and bad air only for one month is utter rubbish. 

If Malaysian and Singaporean companies are behind the forest fires in Indonesia, then the local authorities should come down hard on them. Penalise them, ban them. Just do something.

We forget about the trees only to be reminded when the haze envelopes the country. By then it is too late as nature has been destroyed, the atmosphere tainted, leaving the people to suffer.

Why is it right for people to destroy trees but wrong for us to tie ourselves to trees to stop the massive rape of jungles? Where is the justice?

As Sabrina said: “This is where the leaders should step in end it, as we are only able to do so much.”

As long as you are ‘able’...

The FA of Malaysia (FAM on Monday revealed it is seeking new coaches to guide the national and Under-23 squads. Nothing new there, except for the criteria. FAM vice-president Datuk Mokhtar Ahmad raised eyebrows when he told the press the national body was seeking someone who is “able” and a “professional”. Are we missing something?

The problem with FAM is that it has adopted a trigger-free culture — ‘shoot’, explain later. Stakeholders are confused.

They announced a task force to assess the poor performance of the national team but had no clue about the roles of those in the set-up. 

Such a move is not new. In 2007, a similar task force was formed to “evaluate the poor performance of the national team” following our forgettable outing at the Asian Cup. 

The committee, then headed by Datuk Redzuan Sheikh Ahmad, was supposed to submit its report, including a post-mortem on the state of Malaysian football, to the Cabinet Committee for Sports Development. FAM’s then technical director Robert Alberts was supposed to have presented his blueprint to the task force — despite having submitted it a  year earlier. 

So what happened to Alberts’s blueprint? What were the findings of the 2007 task force? 

The two things that have remained consistent over the years are FAM’s inability to explain matters and the national team’s dwindling performance.

FAM has difficulty explaining matters because despite being the guardian of football, it is not on the ball.

It is still unable to explain why we were humiliated 10-0 against United Arab Emirates in a World Cup qualifying match earlier this month, despite the millions spent on the national team and coaching staff over the years. 

It is still unable to explain how fans were able to smuggle flares and smoke bombs into the Shah Alam Stadium during the Malaysia-Saudi Arabia World Cup qualifying match.

And it is unable to explain what ‘able’, in the context of hiring a national coach, means.

So FAM, will you ever be ‘able’ to explain anything?

HARESH is executive editor of Malay Mail. He hopes to see changes as we celebrate Malaysia Day today. He can reached at or on Twitter @HareshDeol


Popular posts from this blog

What went wrong with KL SEA Games?

145 gold medals.
It's the best Team Malaysia has ever achieved since the inception of the SEAP Games in1959.
The 29th edition of the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur ended yesterday. The opening ceremony dazzled those at the stands and viewers at home while the performances during the closing ceremony yesterday jogged plenty of musical memories to many.
Our athletes, the real superheroes, brought smiles through their heroic display. They made everyday a happy day.
Kudos to the officials - from the coaches, the National Sports Institute and National Sports Council - for their hard work in ensuring our athletes perform to their best.
But it was not all memorable.

'World fashion disaster' in KL

World Fashion Week Asia 2017 ended over the weekend.

And the launch on Friday at Palace of the Golden Horses at Mines Resort City just outside Kuala Lumpur turned out to be a forgettable night.


It was poorly organised.

Just as many are trying to get over the nightmare witnessed throughout the KL SEA Games, the organiser of World Fashion Week Asia 2017 has made it look like Malaysians seem to have lost it when it comes to hosting major events and hospitality.

Here's why.

Royal protocol ignored

1. The Sultanah of Terengganu Sultanah Nur Zahirah was invited to grace the event.
    a. There was no holding room for the Sultanah and VIPs accompanying her.
    b. The Sultanah was invited on stage without anyone accompanying her there (a big NO NO if anyone knows protocol involving royalty).
    c. The event dragged on till 11.30pm, way past the cut off point of the very many events I've attended with members of the royal family present.
   d. The Sultanah was forced to walk all t…

Klang run 'illegal', says Sports Commissioner

UPDATE (Dec 11; 11.58am): Sporting events approved by Sports Commissioner's Office will be posted on the Youth and Sports Ministry's website starting Dec 14, as revealed by the Sports Commissioner in her statement today. I'm glad the last point of my observation (as per posting right below) has been addressed.


UPDATE (10.57pm): A Twitter user had sent me a link by the organiser of the Klang Heritage Marathon 2017. It states that the marathon has been "postponed to Oct 14, 2018" and that they have been victims of fake news and will lodge reports with the authorities against materials with elements of defamation or fake news. Read the full statement, posted on Dec 2, here.


A Klang City International Marathon 2017 pacer suffered serious injuries after she and two others were hit by a car

Turns out that the organiser of this morning's event, Earth Runners International Group Sdn Bhd, DID NOT submit any application to the Sports Commissioner&#…