Age has got its advantages, says Dole - Abdullah Ahmad

25 August 1996

It has been a busy summer for Americans this year. There was the centennial Olympia extravaganza in Atlanta where we saw less actual games and more of other things: Coca cola, Nike and other big sponsors, TV commentators and sub-commentators, girl-friends and relatives of American winners to the exclusion of other winners (as if they were not there). The Chinese, the Italians and even the friendly Irish complained about everything from dirty toilets, bad transport arrangements to bland foods and fake ethnic fares.

One good thing about this summer games for Malaysia is that for the second time in 40 years we managed to win medals via badminton - at Barcelona in 1992, badminton won us a bronze. Now, in Atlanta, a silver.

The hockey team, once a relative power house among the "also-rans" was saved from getting a wooden spoon by the host, the Americans, who learned playing competitive-field hockey less than a decade ago. The Malay College in Kuala Kangsar, the Penang Free School, the Anderson School in Ipoh and Victoria Institution in Kuala Lumpur have been playing hockey longer than the Americans.

How Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kim Hock could have lost (the match was not screened in US) when victory was a breath away, only God knows. This was what an Indonesia diploma an Indonesia diplomat said to me: Pak, kurang konsentrasi mental! As if he was echoing the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Muhammad who once advised our sportsmen that mental commitment was equally important if not more than physical fitness.

Last week; it was the Republican national convention in San Diego.

In the US, political conventions take place once every four years. I enjoyed the funfest convention. The overwhelmingly numerous conservatives who controlled the convention nominated former Senate Republican-Majority Leader Robert Dole as their nominee to try to unseat President Bill Clinton during the presidential election on Nov 5. Dole has waited 16 years for his coronation as the Republican Party's nominee.

In November, American voters will also elect Senator, whose terms have expired, and all members of the house of Representatives, who are elected once in every two years. However, the presidential election overshadows all other elections, including that of the vice-president, which shows where the real power in America lies. After all, in November, the voters are not only selecting their president, but their commander-in-chief as well. The president of the US is also the leader of the Judeo-Christian nations and of their allies in the Free World.

The Republican Party is a collection of fraction groups that opted not to draw their guns at the convention in order to present a united front against the Democrats. They were compelled to compromise, and they did, to stand behind Dole despite their philosophical differences in an effort to push him into the White House.

Like the Atlanta Olympics, the Republican national convention was another media razzmatazz. It was for me, as it was for the 1990 delegates, and for the 15,000 members of the media and thousands of conventioneers, a great excitement, a glamorous bustle, and a new experience. The number of Republican delegates is slightly less than UMNO's delegates for this year's general assembly.

Many non-Republicans look forward to a repeat performance in Chicago next week when they will attend either to report, learn or observed the Democratic Party convention starring Clinton and Hillary, Gore and Tipper, perhaps, Chelsea too. Chelsea was quite a star at her father's 50th birthday bash in New York last Sunday.

Of course, the two conventions will be different as vast or narrow as the gap which separates their popularity ratings.