Pakatan’s football fetish

Hafidz Baharom

I’M not sure if Pakatan Harapan understands media or even journalism. News is defined by what is new, and thus it makes the headlines. 

So when you repeat the good old youth promises of affordable housing, lesser migrant workers, higher salaries, and then add making the English Premier League (EPL) available on Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM), of course it’s going to make headlines. 

Pakatan’s defence that this isn’t a high ranking priority is whitewashing the fact that it was high enough to bloody get a mention in their manifesto. Their explanation that this is to try to undo the cable television monopoly by Astro is also another red herring, especially since people can just ask HyppTV to provide the same for a fee. 

Only problem is I have to wonder if that means HyppTV would have to pay Astro for such rights. 

At the same time, some Malaysians are already viewing football matches online rather than bothering to subscribe to the cable TV package after finally understanding that nobody is actually at home to watch it most of the day and thus, Astro seems a waste. 

Others will just gang up with friends and watch it at a pub or a mamak – which is also why there is resistance to having such places shut at midnight. 

And then, there is the argument on costs. While the cost to screen all 380 Premier League matches is opaque, it is said to have been RM1 billion for three seasons from 2013 to 2016, with an increase of 25 to 30% every renewal. This would make the current seasonal cost from 2017 to 2019 some RM1.3 billion – roughly RM433 million per annum with a 25 to 30% increase every year. 

Imagine what that would look like in their budget tabling every October. 

Thus, is Pakatan promising to allocate this much to RTM in their shadow budget? This is odd, since I didn’t see it listed in their last presentation. One can only wonder what would have happened had Wong Chen mentioned this plan in front of Jomo KS for his economic analyses. 

And while the Pakatan youth leaders are going about defending this football fetish of theirs on social media accounts, they can’t seem to answer the very basic of questions – how did the Premier League heading on RTM become part of their manifesto?

Is there a poll or research to suggest that this is something the youth, which is 45% of Malaysians, want? Where did this Blue Ocean strategy come from? Who proposed it? How are they going to do it? Aren’t there better things to find on RTM other than football?

So, who watches football? 

All these questions lead to the same finality – go ask Nik Nazmi as head of Pakatan youth. And Nik Nazmi has answered this with the same excuses as before – to undo the monopolising of cable television over football so he can watch Liverpool matches. 

According to a joint paper by UiTM, UMS and UKM on the attendance at Premier League friendlies in Malaysia, the majority of those watching football are single, male, Malay and between the ages of 18 and 34. So perhaps this football fetish is only justifiable as an election candy. 

I’ve been an advocate for more youths to take part in politics because we are a rather young nation but this, to myself, is a dumb idea. They could have gone and proposed more youth candidates for parliamentary seats, with a promise of fielding 40% of fanfares nationwide under the age of 40. 

Instead, here’s football, go and entertain yourselves and have some escapism. Gosh, and you wonder why they youth are apathetic about political parties. 

There are quite a few of these bad ideas in the Pakatan youth manifesto. But then again, I did warn in an earlier column that we were stuck between a party of bad ideas and a party of no ideas. One can suggest a bad idea, and the other one can make it worse and horrible in its implementation. 

So hopefully the BN Youths will not take this idea and run with it when they win the next general election. 

That being said, Pakatan needs to think about what more can be done to assist the youth beyond football and even 30km of bicycle lanes per city when they can’t even get sidewalks in Selangor properly done, and justify their thoughts more eloquently. 

Hopefully, all these are backed by data and research that one hoped would have come from their Institut Rakyat, Refsa, Penang Institute, Invoke, Institut Darul Ehsan and God knows what other research institutes they are spending their funds on. I’m quite amazed at how many they have and this is what was coughed out. 

But not to worry. They will have another decade to figure it out before taking over government. – January 12, 2017.

* Hafidz loves to ruffle feathers and believes in the EA Games tag line of challenging everything. Most times, he represents the Devil’s Advocate on multiple issues.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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