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Sex, politics and football

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Unlike the case of former England football captain John Terry, the stakes in the Anwar Ibrahim trial are much higher and involve more than personal honour and lost political patronage, writes Yeoh Seng Guan.

Two events reported in the media – one far and the other near – are arguably preoccupying a lot of people’s minds and moral energies these last few days.

The back page of today’s Star (6 February 2010) reports on Chelsea and England football captain John Terry being “axed” from his position by England manager Fabio Capello. The reason, now well known in the football world: Terry’s alleged extra-marital affair with the ex-girlfriend of his international team mate, Wayne Bridge. Often described as an “outstanding captain” and “a man’s man” by his team-mates, Terry was also voted ‘Dad of the Year’ in 2009. Debates carried out in the print media, cyberspace and beyond centre around whether his private indiscretions should have any bearing on his public performance as a talented footballer and England squad captain. In the highly commercialised world of sports, that expose will not only cost him his place of pride and honour but hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost sponsorships.

Closer to home, we are having our own ongoing moral dilemmas between the realms of the private and the public. The front pages of all the dailies are hanging on every word uttered in the Anwar Ibrahim’s trial. Cleverly billed in one English daily as “Sodomy II: An Indecent Proposal”, there is a palpable sense of a collision of moral worlds being played out for all to see, hear, debate and decide. Regardless of the truth or legality of the accusations, any intelligent person can appreciate that what is also on media trial is the political future of the Opposition Leader and by extension the viability of Pakatan Rakyat.

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Like the case of John Terry, this kind of sensationalist reportage is sure to generate heated debate if not guarantee high sales for the media. But unlike the case of the former England captain, the stakes of the outcome of the trial are much higher and involve more than personal honour and lost political patronage.

Malaysia and the world awaits…

Yeoh Seng Guan is an executive committee member of Aliran.

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