Wednesday, November 17, 1993

The ugly Singaporean (16/11/1993 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 16/11/1993
Headline : The ugly Singaporean

SINGAPORE are in the Malaysia Cup final. But their achievement would have
been laudable if only their fans had been as disciplined as the team.
I was surprised by the behaviour of the Singapore fans at the National
Stadium on Sunday night.
And this has nothing to do with me being a Malaysian.
My impression of Singapore fans had been one of high spirits and I have
never known them to be hostile towards their team's opponents.
This wasn't the case on Sunday. All right, they were not as hostile as
the fans in Kota Baru but still, it was unbecoming of Singaporeans -
particularly from a modern society - to engage in an exchange of words.
It started when Sarawak brought their crocodile mascot, Bujang Senang,
for the first time away from Kuching. But they didn't reckon on security
being stringent at the stadium.
The mascot was refused entry to the field as the team was about to go in
for their warm-up. But with the help of some Sarawak players, the mascot
was led onto it.
It was then that the Singapore fans clamored for their mascot - the
lion - to join Bujang Senang on the pitch.
Under normal circumstances, this would not have been allowed at a soccer
match. But Sunday was different.
Bujang Senang, on seeing the Lion trooping in, offered to shake hands but
the Lion surprisingly refused. Instead, it turned around and showed its
butt to Bujang Senang.
That sparked a personal duel between the two mascots. The situation was
defused when Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Brig Gen Lee Shein Loo was
invited to meet the players from both sides.
Lee sportingly met the Sarawak players and officials before meeting the
Singapore players.
But when the names of the Sarawak players were announced, the capacity
55,000 crowd jeered.
There was more to come.
The Sarawak players, in a goodwill gesture, kicked souvenir balls to the
crowd after the introduction.
What followed was a very unsporting gesture. The Singapore fans urged
those who were lucky to get the balls to kick them back onto the field.
In the end, the balls given to the ball pickers seated on the tracks.
Surely, Singapore fans could have behaved better.
A Singapore newspaper reported the incident as an attempt by the Sarawak
players to bribe the fans into supporting them. How low can they go?
One Singapore fan from the grandstand even threw a mineral water bottle
at Sarawak coach Alan Vest when he got up from his bench to walk towards
the sidelines.
It may not be serious compared to other incidents in Malaysian stadiums
but what was alarming was that this happened in Singapore.
A veteran sportswriter in Singapore commented: "It is not surprising
because what you witnessed is a suppressed society letting off steam.
"They cannot behave in this manner anywhere else because they will be
hauled up.
"They will be hauled up in the stadium too, but the chances of getting
caught is slim in a crowd of 50,000. It is sad that this is happening in
The writer said it was great to see the National Stadium packed to the
brim again, but it lacked an atmosphere.
"I have been to various stadiums in Malaysia and even with a lesser
crowd but the feeling is more electrifying," he wrote.
"But here, we have the crowd reacting for all the wrong reasons. They do
not even know how to cheer their team."
The last straw was when Singapore FA and Singapore Sports Council
officials treated a group of Malaysian sportswriters without much respect.

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