When does a Malaysian stop being a Malaysian? Never, apparently, since other Malaysians won’t let them go.
Singaporean shuttler Loh Kean Yew (骆建佑) recently dominated the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championship 2021 finals. Many were happy for the Penang-born player, including Malaysians. However, Loh supposedly angered them when he paid homage to his country, Singapore.
The BWF World Championship came to an end on 19th December, with Loh securing gold. It was a hard-won battle as he faced off India’s Kidambi Srikanth, clinching the game with 21-15 and 22-10. Victory was surely sweet for the world No. 22 player as he had entered the competition unseeded yet pulled a win, not only for himself but for Singapore as well.
This is the first time a Singaporean has won the BWF World Championship title. Understandably overjoyed by his victory, Loh kissed the Singaporean flag on his jersey after the game. While not an unusual action for most athletes, his one action has apparently offended many Malaysians.
According to news portal NetEase, the kiss was akin to Loh declaring Malaysia had nothing to do with his win. Apparently, Malaysian badminton fans have been claiming the shuttler as one of our own, since he was born in Penang. In fact, while Loh may have began his love for badminton in Malaysia, his skills were definitely cultivated in Singapore after he received a scholarship from Singapore Sports School when he was 13.
It’s not to say Loh didn’t miss Malaysia. “When the time came for me to move here, I was angry because my friends were all in Malaysia,” the 24-year-old said, as quoted by Mothership. “But my mother already bought the ticket to send me here, so what choice was I given? Slowly, I started to make friends and adapt to life here.” After 11 years in Singapore, Loh has fallen in love with the country. For those curious, he became a Singapore citizen in 2015.
Regardless of his nationality, it cannot be denied that Loh earned his victory through hard work. He definitely deserves the win and we don’t think he’s wrong to credit it to Singapore.
Loh has never held hard feelings against other national players. In fact, he’s on good terms with both Lee Zii Jia and Danish shuttler Viktor Axelsen! Hopefully, we can be as mature as the badminton players and accept his win gracefully. After all, good sportsmanship isn’t only relegated to the players themselves.