HARESH SAYS: Don't we forget easily?

As published in Malay Mail today

Haresh Says
By Haresh Deol

DATUK SERI Paul Mony Samuel was a top notch international football administrator. He was a class act, one whose involvement in four World Cups — USA 1994, France 1998, Korea-Japan 2002 and Germany 2006 — was a testament of Fifa’s faith in him.

When news broke that Paul, 71, had died on Saturday, many scrambled to find out more about the Kedahan, a former schoolteacher who later rubbed shoulders with royalty, world leaders and football stars.
Sadly, Paul was remembered only by those who remember him.

The FA of Malaysia’s (FAM) media team was quick to inform the press of his passing. But there was no mention on its website about the man who was FAM general-secretary for 15 years (1985-2000).

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) paid tribute to him and declared a minute of silence will be observed during this week’s AFC Champions league matches. It was an obvious tribute for its former general-secretary (2007-2009).

AFC had on its website said: “Datuk Seri Paul was born on August 5, 1944 and started his career as a teacher while also playing football for a premier league club in the Malaysian northern state of Kedah in the 1960s.
“He later coached a premier league team in the 70s before his appointment as assistant general secretary of FAM in the early 80s.”

There was no mention of the premier league club Paul played for or the team he had coached. Also, when exactly in the early 1980s did he serve FAM — 1981? 1982?

The AFF posted his resume — the same that was circulated to the media on Saturday — on its website in announcing his passing.

There were no pictures or information of Paul on these websites. 

Even those in the sports industry were clueless about Paul and his work.

Is this how we repay a man who dedicated his life to football? Is this how we credit those who have worked tirelessly and made sacrifices?

Paul’s death affirms Malaysia is not a nation that documents those who have done us proud. It increasingly appears that we are thoughtless and do not value history.

If we can act in such a manner towards a Malaysian hero, is it any surprise many among us do not have any emotional attachment when it comes to destroying a 100-year old building?

We take no effort to understand a heritage building and appreciate what it was built for. We bring it down in the name of development, thinking Malaysia must achieve Vision 2020 by building skyscrapers.

How many of us know the significance of Dataran Merdeka, then known as the padang, prior the country’s independence? What about the Eng Choon assembly hall in Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur?

Did you know the Oriental Building in Jalan Tun Perak was described as the tallest building in Kuala Lumpur in 1932?

The very many old buildings and bungalows in Penang have plenty of tales to tell. If only the walls could speak.

During a conversation with a group of senior writers recently, we spoke about current issues and ended our night by saying, “Malaysians forget easily”. We do.
Are we also forgetting about enforcement?

Not many of us have the luxury of eating home-cooked food. Our tight and busy schedules force us to have a quick bite at a restaurant or from a stall outside the office.

This has encouraged many to open food stalls. They appear along busy roads and in alleys at commercial centres. Even those selling USB cables and pirated DVDs inch in, hoping to make a quick ringgit.

Some say those who operate in such a manner are showcasing their entrepreneurial skills and should be encouraged instead of penalised.

However, one stall will quickly mushroom into several stalls and along the way, transform into a mini food court — violating every guideline set by the local council.

The stalls in front of the Menara Orkid apartments in Bandar Baru Sentul and in Taman Kosas, Ampang, come to mind. There were just a handful of traders operating in both areas years back but today, it is akin to a mini food court. It remains unclear if City Hall and the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council have given the operators the green light to trade there.

One can only imagine what would happen if a fire breaks out in those areas. 

It is also seen as abusing local bylaws. The lack of enforcement is evident. Local councils offer lesen statik and lesen gerai tepi jalan but not many apply due to the hassle. Also, they do no display certificates at their stalls, leaving the curious to wonder if they are operating legally or otherwise.

Hygiene at such stalls are questionable. No wonder we hear of friends and colleagues falling ill after indulging in a packet of nasi lemak or rojak bought from roadside stalls.

Unhygienic restaurants and school canteens have hogged the limelight for the wrong reasons in recent weeks for being the cause of food poisoning.

Why is it we have a detestable tendency to ignore the people who moved the nation forward? Why do we patronise unhygienic food operators? Why do we … I give up!
Haresh is executive editor of Malay Mail. He can be reached at haresh@mmail.com.my or on Twitter @HareshDeol


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