Malaysia has denied visa for two Israeli windsurfers participating at the ISAF world youth championships in Langkawi, scheduled to begin tomorrow.
According to the Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, there was little to be done as Putrajaya had to abide its diplomatic policy.
Nothing can be further from the truth.
Malaysia had made a special arrangement in 2011 to grant Chelsea's Israeli player Yossi Bernayoun entry into Malaysia for a friendly football match in the National Stadium. If a special arrangement could be made in 2011, why the same could not be done now?
Unfortunately, Bernayoun received anti-Semitic abuse during the football match in 2011 and Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) apologised over that incident.
Khairy could have made up for the past mistake and right the wrong by granting a special visa for Yoav Omer and Noy Drihan to participate in the ISAF world youth championships in Langkawi tomorrow.
Omer won the gold medal in the Under-19 for men in the last championships, and Drihan won for the women in Under-17 and Under-19 competitions.
It is highly unacceptable that Khairy allowed politics and personal sentiments to get in the way of an international sports event. Sports should be above politics and should remain politically neutral.
To deny visas for any athletes based on their nationality, religion or personal belief is unsporting. Moreover, both athletes are the defending champions and to deny visa for their entry is to deny their right to defend their titles. This is unacceptable in any sporting event.
When political differences were so fundamental and dividing, sports should be a unifying factor and Khairy could set a good example and demonstrate to the whole world that Malaysians is mature enough to put away political differences for the sake of sports.
However, Khairy failed to see that and allowed his political stand to cloud his judgement.
If Israel were to host the Olympic Games, will Malaysia stay away due to its "diplomatic policy"? – December 26, 2015.
* Chong Zhemin heads Perak DAP's Economic Development Bureau.