Well, needless to say, Mediacorp has been providing exquisite coverage of the Confederations Cup, allowing Singaporeans to savour the silky skills of the likes of Neymar, Jesus Navas, David Villa, Balotelli….the list goes on. I may personally be an ardent football fan, tuning in to broadcasts of matches, whether it be FIFA A-graded friendlies or just heading down to Chua Chu Kang Stadium to catch a glimpse of Mislav Karoglan and Warriors FC strutting their stuff ( admittedly a disappointing campaign this season). However, recent events in Brazil, as well as my enlightenment of the socio-economic concerns of Brazilians have made me aware of the plight the country now faces.
Here’s a video link to share how i got enlightened 🙂 Do watch it, please.
Ok, so basically, for those unaware about what’s going on around major cities in Brazil currently, there’ve been a spate of mass protests against the government for its decision to host the World Cup, without any careful consideration for the perhaps, overriding importance of protecting its people’s interests and welfare first. Me? I would say, they’re justified in their protests. People don’t just simply take to the streets. They see an innate need to express their resentment and frustrations. Let me concur with the protestors regarding why the World Cup isn’t going to help Brazil at all. Don’t get me wrong, I love football and the Brazilian football team, but I have to say, Brazil and its people do not need a world cup at this point in time. The government shouldn’t have opted to host the World Cup.
Let’s take a not too distant throwback to the Olympics of 2004 and 2008. Were they an immense success? You could say so. But, what do we find the economies of the 2004 hosts in now? Yeah, you’ve got it. To say the Greek economy is in ruins is a severe understatement. Fiscal profligacy and excessive government debt has now caused Greece to spiral into perhaps, uncharted waters of probable bankruptcy. Fiscal spending on the Olympics was just a small part of the parcel that contributed to the Greek and eurozone sovereign-debt crisis. Athens has had its stadiums overrun by vast tracts of wild plants, with the Greek government, in the midst of more important matters, such as engaging on austerity programs to cut costs and repay debt, unable to further engage in maintaining such stadiums. Beijing is facing a similar position, albeit a better one since its economy is still booming. Some of its major venues, such as the volleyball stadium and Water Cube, are now similarly, in danger of neglect.
Have countries actually learnt anything from the lessons of hosting Olympics at all? Perhaps not. Brazil needs to realise that such overspending on projects cannot be sustained in the long term. A country steeped with corruption, inadequate healthcare and educational facilities, ranked 85 in the HDI has spent $30 billion on hosting the World Cup. That is shockingly, three times larger than the previous three world cups in Asia, Germany and South Africa combined.
Ask yourselves. Brazil. A country part of the BRIC bloc, but not part of the G20. Do you think it has enough financial resources to cater to such extravagant events? The administration of Dilma Rouseff, the current President, justifies it by arguing that hosting such world class events will help improve Brazil’s global image and thus, attract tourists and investors in the long term. Wait, that sounds legit, but perhaps the administration decided to turn a blind eye to the need to first, serve its people instead of serving the world. Brazil already faces worldwide criticisms for its treatment of indigenous populations, while there is an ostensible lack of proper healthcare and education facilities. The government has lacked initiative to invest in such projects to help its population. Instead, overcome by the evils of corruption, many prefer spending to attract overseas investors to clear forests and help enlarge its large-scale industries.
Brazil doesn’t need to improve its reputation. Instead, the government should have focused on what a proper government should have focused on- economics. Economics entails Rouseff’s government to serve its people first, by improving their standard of living through investing in much needed healthcare and education. Only then will Brazil live up to its tag of part of the ‘BRIC’ bloc. Investing in infrastructure such as stadiums. I’m sure that was a pretty good use of government expenditure. Finances are instead of being spent on social welfare, being spent on unecessary infrastructure, whilst gate receipts go directly to FIFA. Tourism revenues go to mega-rich hotel conglomerates, whilst the poor continue suffering in silence.
What is more shocking, is perhaps the way the Brazilian government has decided to deal with the outrage over their actions. They’ve evicted many unlawfully from their homes to build stadiums or new infrastructure, without any compensation or notice. Recent protests have claimed its first victim- a teenager. Yes, call teens idealists, but I believe us youth have greater potential to change this world for the better than idle, self-seeking politicians like Rouseff.
Global protests are reminding more and more of the injustice the world is currently facing. From Instanbul to Rio De Janeiro, governments resort to brute force instead of first consulting its citizens on whatever projects they embark on. Gezi Park in Instanbul, for example. Erdogan’s government refused to consult or hold a referendum on the construction of modern shopping malls on the site of the park. Instead of dealing calmly and rationally with the protesters’ demands, he resorts to clearing them out of Gezi Park. This has made Erdogan look strikingly similar to Mubarak in his last days. Erdogan luckily, has his reputable economic track record to thank for the remaining, albeit disappearing credibility he still has. And now, the world cup in Rio. Was construction done with the consultation of all brazilians? From what it seems, the government are uninterested in seeking out the views of the masses first. They fail to realise that in democracies, the people hold the true power. The government OWE it to the citizens for their government posts. They OWE it to the people to be treated like KINGS and live in EXTRAVAGANCE. In return, why not treat the people as they deserve- with respect and empathy? Doesn’t do much harm for your credibility does it? In fact, I am bamboozled by the logic of politicians that they simply refuse to listen to the masses, and knowingly or unwittingly, destroy their reputations.
Democracy is clearly dying out globally. Perhaps as youths, we hold the key to the future. Our idealism and fiery passion in whatever we undertake in should lead the way. No more broken promises. No more corruption. Democracy needs a reinvigoration. It needs, change from the bottom-up. Politicians have gotten complacent with the ideology of democracy. We hold the responsibility to remind them of their duties.