I don’t know what to say, really. Less than 24 hours to our biggest match of the season. All comes down to to night. The Red Warriors' football jersey looks set to stay on the back of the majority of Kelantanese youth for the weeks ahead as a testament of their pride. It has been a daily uniform of choice for some since TRW, the state team's popular acronym, began enjoying good fortunes for some years now.
A solitary goal was all it needed to bring cheer to Kelantan. For the 90 minutes of play, they also dropped all pretensions and class distinctions to collectively scream their lungs out for their favourite team.
The local football team turn to be the giant in Malaysia football is a great success story. The team was struggling to compete in the league, and was even relegated back in 2004. Yet, the supporters remained faithful.
Fast forward a few years later, as a product of the combination of visionary ideas and strong support base, the Kelantan football team has emerged as the new powerhouse of the Malaysian football scene.
From the Kelantan experience, it highlights the power of sports as unifying factors. We cannot dispute that there is great polarisation among Malaysians because of the differences in our political convictions. It is thus on this basis that the government has called for national reconciliation.
There will be no single way to foster national unity and rise above our political differences, for multiracial reconciliation is a complex process. Indeed, sports have proven to be instrumental in fostering unity in our country. We put our support as a nation behind Lee Chong Wei and we were all disappointed when he failed in his bid for our first gold medal in the Olympics.
Sports can be the potential medium to bring Malaysians together, but to rely on it as a solution would be too simplistic. The fundamental element in national unity lies in our ability to speak and interact with each other.
This is precisely what we can learn from the case of Kelantan. As a local boy myself, I have observed how Chinese restaurants and coffee shops are filled with Malay Muslims in serban and jubah after the prayers.
The Malays and Chinese will sit at the same table discussing current issues in the local dialect, casting race and religion aside. In fact, other races including Indians and Thais can also relate to each other comfortably through this common language. Despite being a predominantly Malay-Muslim state, there is no racial strife and the people live in harmony.
Kelantanese are always associated with the term ‘asabiyyah’. It means a really strong sense of origin and belonging to people of the same background. The reason is because Kelantanese has always had a strong bond with each other. A Kelantanese would never let another Kelantanese down’, the famous Kelantanese motto. Even in another state you can always tell those who are Kelantanese and those who aren’t. Kelantanese always stick together. Kelantanese are also people who are not afraid to reveal their identity. When you’re hanging out with a bunch of Kelantanese you’ll feel like you’re in Kelantan itself. They never abandon their slang and mindset.
National reconciliation calls for us to understand and tolerate our differences, but none of that can be achieved without a common language that will remove the stumbling block of our interaction within society.
Thus, in search for national reconciliation, it is high time for Kelantan to be viewed positively in terms of how we manage our racial and religious differences. I am sure that some lessons can be drawn from the Kelantan experience as we move forward for greater national unity.
Note:- Invictus :- A film about how Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiated a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World to unite South African nation.