THE CHOICE: We can continue being thoughtless or set aside our differences
IT'S the first day of the New Year. To many people, it would be like starting a new life, full of hope and anticipation. By now, they would have made their resolutions. Oh, never mind if the resolutions do not survive beyond the third month. Drawing up the list is in itself a mean feat in between the Christmas and New Year partying.
I know of some people who actually do a checklist of resolutions and carry forward the unfulfilled ones. I've yet to know of anyone, however, who tries to fulfil his or her year-long resolutions in one night, like that in the 2011 romantic comedy movie New Year's Eve.
And, there are also those who make a calendar of what they look forward to this year.
As I usher in the New Year, two things come to mind: the 13th general election and football. Two extreme ends of the stick, you may say.
Let's start with the general election. There will definitely be another round of speculation on the date. Many political observers and analysts are speculating that Parliament will be dissolved before Chinese New Year to pave the way for the general election to be held late next month or early March.
But if the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, upon the advice of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, does not dissolve the Parliament before or on April 28, the Dewan Rakyat will automatically disband on that date to pave the way for the general election.
Under Article 55 (4) of the Constitution, the general election will have to be held within 60 days of the dissolution of Parliament. This means that the general election can be held as late as the end of June.
Winning is all that matters in elections, irrespective of it being a simple majority, two-thirds or landslide. The winning coalition will rule for the next five years or less.
But at the end of the day, where would this leave us? If the last general election is used as a benchmark, it had left the country bitterly divided.
We have heard many a time the claim that we are "multiracial Malaysians living together in harmony, generally respecting each other, respecting every religion and accepting the differences of each other's cultures" but of late, we have become overly sensitive about issues that are sometimes sensationalised by some parties.
Misunderstandings, which resulted in small fights, have been touted by social media networks as riots while injuries needing outpatient treatment were falsely reported as fatalities.
We can continue being thoughtless in what we say and in our actions and eventually, wreck the peace that we have long enjoyed in this country. Or, we can come together, putting our differences aside and rapatkan barisan, a common term used by political leaders, to narrow the divide among the rakyat.
Oh, why can't we emulate football fans for example? We can see for ourselves how volatile the fans are after their team loses a match. We can read their explosive exchanges on Twitter and Facebook. But these are the same fans who come together to support the team despite the defeat.
There may be many political parties out there but there is still one Malaysia.
On a lighter note, I look forward to this year's Malaysian Super League, especially the Darul Takzim FC whose players have been dubbed the Exclusive XI.
Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, as president of the Johor Football Association, has not only created excitement among Johoreans but also those from other states.
With former Singaporean player Fandi Ahmad as its coach, Darul Takzim FC has in its line-up national captain Safiq Rahim, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Safee Sali, Azmi Muslim, Muslim Ahmad and the twins of Aidil Zafuan and Zaquan Adha Razak. It has also signed up Italian midfielder Simone Del Nero and former Spanish international Daniel Guiza.
Will the two foreign signings take Johoreans back to the glory days of the state's football team in 1991, the year it won the Malaysia Cup? Back then, Johor had Michael Urukalo from Australia as coach and Ervin Boban (Yugoslavia), Abbas Saad (Australia) and Alistair Edwards (Australia) as players. It was also the same year that Fandi played for Pahang.
This is yet to be seen. After all, as in politics, winning is all that matters.
Fauziah Ismail | firstname.lastname@example.org Writer is a NST associate editor (online) New Straits Times Opinion Columnist 1 January 2013