John Howard should not be allowed near cricket
Posted on May 29th, 2010

Ajit Randeniya

The news that a number of test cricket playing nations including Sri Lanka are unhappy with the nomination of the former Australian Prime Minister John Howard for the position of vice president of the International Cricket Conference (ICC) is music to our ears.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ A detailed look at the total inappropriateness of this nomination needs to be preceded by expressing our sympathies to the poor New Zealanders: they did not fully support the controversial nomination of Howard for the job earlier this year by Cricket Australia (CA) and New Zealand Cricket (NZC); they were adamant that the man for the job was its former chairman Sir John Anderson. But CA, backed by ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”big brotherƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ Australia, won the day with Howard as nominee.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ New Zealenders are not pleased: in February, NZC declined a proposal by CA boss James Sutherland to receive Howard as a special guest at the Wellington Test Match so he could make his first appearance at a match since his controversial nomination. The Dominion Post newspaper claimed Sutherland’s offer had been ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”distastefulƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ given the intense dispute between the governing bodies about whether Howard was the right man for the nomination.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Australian public were not thrilled either. John Howard’s influence on Australia in the past decade and a half is considered by many to have had a polarising effect, and many Australians found his nomination to the ICC an embarrassment; he lacked any experience in sports administration and the nomination could be seen as an ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Antipodean endorsementƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ of self-serving former politicians indulging in sports administration as a hobby.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In the area of sport, John Howard is noted for his almost reverential following of cricket, urging the former Australian cricket captain to jocularly describe him a cricket ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”tragicƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢; Howard clings to this tag as if it were a Doctorate of Cricketing Expertise! As a player, Howard was a good politician. He lacks the elementary coordination required for playing cricket so badly, his failed attempts to bowl a ball at a group of boys in Afghanistan became legendary; in all three attempts, the ball pitched at his own toe! The video clip can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGqTayhu5QM.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ John Howard is famous for many things outside sport: he happened to be visiting Washington on September 11, 2001 when those ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”eventsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ took place and he committed Australia to the Iraqi invasion. He became the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”true friendƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ of George W. Bush, and offended Asian leaders when he announced that he was the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Deputy SherriffƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ of Bush who was looking after the Asian region.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ HowardƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s alliance with the neocons on the Iraqi invasion was not surprising due to his previously well known racist attitudes against the Australian Indigenous people, Asian immigrants, refugees and anyone of colour in general.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ He is not the most attractive Australian male either, and the unkind Australian cartoonists have a field day at his expense!

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ HowardƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s obvious lack of sporting skill or administrative experience needed for the job becomes trivial in the light of his major flaw as a racist: through his handling of domestic policy issues relating to Indigenous Australians and his treatment of Asian immigrants and people of colour, as AustraliaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s prime minister between 1996 and 2007, Howard has proved that he is guided primarily by racist attitudes.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ This writer witnessed an Australian expatriate accusing him of being racist and hurling a boot, Doc Martens no less, at him when he was preparing to speak on the topic of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”leadership in the new centuryƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ at the Cambridge Student Union’s debating chamber in late 2008. As Howard tried to continue, introducing himself with his accomplishments of 12 years as prime minister, the man again jumped to his feet and yelled, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”I was ashamed to be an Australian for that entire time, racistƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ South Africa is apparently one of the countries who are opposing HowardƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s nomination. This is not surprising because they would remember how Howard stood alone amongst Australian political leaders on both sides of politics in the 1980s, in contrast to others like Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke, in vehemently opposing sporting boycotts against the Apartheid regime.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In 1998, soon after coming to power, the Howard government enacted legislation that effectively took away the common-law land rights that the High Court had granted to Aborigines. Australia earned the distinction of being the only developed country whose government has been condemned as racist by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Howard government responded by disallowing UN human rights officials from entering Australia and investigating further.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Howard also set out to attack the reputation of Professor Henry Reynolds, a pre-eminent Australian historian whose 1981 book ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”The Other Side of the FrontierƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ that revealed the 19th-century assault on Aboriginal Australia. Howard used the services of a little-known, right-wing academic named Keith Windshuttle for this purpose.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Howard also refused to accept the recommendations of the 1997, the Human Rights Commission report – ‘Bringing Them Home’ – which estimated that more than 100,000 Aboriginal children fathered by whites were forcibly taken from their mothers, boys to sheep and cattle stations as cheap labour and girls to white middle-class homes as domestic servants, as a ‘hoax’.He refused to grant an official apology from the government and reparation for the victims as recommended.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Howard also announced an openly racist government ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”interventionƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ into Aboriginal lands in the Northern Territory in 2007, after suspending the Racial Discrimination Act, on the pretext that Aboriginal children were being sexually abused. The statistics revealed four possible cases of sexual abuse out of 7433 Aboriginal children examined. A lot lower rate than that exists amongst the whites! The Australian Crimes Commission found poverty and sickness in Indigenous communities on a scale worse than that of sub Saharan Africa.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ HowardƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Coalition government gave birth to a new campaign of racism against refugees with the decision to stop the Norwegian freighter Tampa from offloading 400 rescued, mostly Afghans. The Howard government whipped up a xenophobic nationalist hysteria about asylum seekers ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”floodingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ Australia’s shores. Shortly after, Howard declared an election in November 2001, and won!

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Just two days after calling the election, Howard, and two other prominent members of his Cabinet whipped up paranoia in the community by accusing a group of Iraqi asylum seekers arriving by boat, of throwing their children into the ocean in an attempt to pressure an Australian warship into picking them up and taking them to Australia. Interviewed by the closet-gay, right-wing talkback radio host Alan Jones, Howard said he did not want people in Australia who ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”throw their own children overboardƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, claiming that the navy had a video that ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”shows a child being pushed into the waterƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. The lie unraveled when naval officers, disgusted by the governmentƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s actions, announced that the allegations were untrue. Incredibly, Howard then argued that it made no difference whether children were actually thrown into the sea or not. All that mattered was that he acted on a report ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”in good faithƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ A couple of weeks before the election, more than 350 Middle Eastern asylum seekers drowned when their over-loaded Indonesian fishing boat sank in the Java Sea as they were trying to reach Australia. International Office of Migration officials confirmed that AustraliaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s naval blockade was causing people smugglers to herd larger numbers of refugees onto each boat. In the aftermath of the sinking, Howard made the now infamous speech at his policy launch, pictured standing with fists clenched between two Australian flags: ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”We decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they comeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Many prominent Australians, the UN and the international media have recorded HowardƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s second election victory, as a win achieved by exploiting Australians xenophobia and historically held racist paranoia. In January 2002 the UN High Commission for refugees sent a special representative to investigate alleged breaches of the 1951 Geneva Convention committed by imprisonment of asylum seekers in detention centres and by balloting them off to other South Pacific countries.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ This background is relevant to the consideration of HowardƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s application for the position of vice-president of ICC in the middle of this year, and thereby for its presidency for two years from 2012 to 2014.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ With a history like this, Howard has no claim to be associated with international cricket administration.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The real motive behind HowardƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s nomination is to limit the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”perceived; Indian power and control in the running of the game; Britain is behind this move, orchestrated by Australia.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ To become vice president, Howard would need the agreement of a two thirds majority, 7 out of 10 boards. Sri Lanka and India need to make sure that Howard does not get near the ICC seat by organising the resistance.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Where is Arjuna Ranatunga when we need him?

One Response to “John Howard should not be allowed near cricket”

  1. cassandra Says:

    You are right. Quite simply, John Howard has no ‘cricket credentials’ that qualify him for this post.

    Of course he is fond of being seen at Test matches, and a bumptious, arrogant and stubborn man, he will offer anyone who cares to listen to him his ‘expert’ views on the game. When I see him on TV at a cricket match, I always see him busy talking to his neighbour (usually, some cricketing VIP) – not watching the play. Another former politician you see at these games is the former British PM, John Major. Now, you don’t see him busy talking to his neighbour. You see him sitting there unobtrusively, without trying to draw attention to himself, totally immersed in the game that is being played before him.

    John Howard was in his element basking in the reflected glory of George W Bush and was really chuffed when the former US President referred to him as a “man of steel”. I have no doubt that since his inglorious defeat at the elections in 2007, he must be suffering acute withdrawal symptoms and be dying for another strut on the world stage.

    It would indeed be tragic if this so-called cricket tragic is appointed to this position.

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