Silat, the martial art of the Malay Archipelago is a sport of pride in the region. That pride may have been tarnished at the ongoing Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang from 18 August to 2 September.
A video that has since gone viral shows Malaysian silat athlete Muhammad Robial Sobri illegally (and some reports say ‘in frustration’) kicking Singapore’s Sheik Ferdous Sheik Alauddin during the Class I (85 to 90kg) semi-final match.
The video from the competition on Sunday shows Ferdous falling down during the competition and Sobri delivering a kick to the Singaporean’s back causing him to writhe in pain.
Fans of the martial arts from Malaysia and Singapore were up in arms with people who took to social media (where else?) to express their shame and anguish.
The match was promptly halted by the referee and Robial walked off showered by jeers from the spectators at the stadium.
Later, Ferdous commented that he saw the kick coming and managed to brace himself, says news daily Straits Times. The Singaporean athlete also adds, “I expected him to do that but now I feel better. After you win, you forget your injuries.”
All that drama and Singapore still won the match 5-0.
Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman congratulated Robial on winning the bronze but made no mention of the kick, a move which did not go unnoticed.
This isn’t the only time that the Malaysian silat contingent has sparked controversy at this year’s Asian Games.
Mohd Al-Jufferi Jamari, the 2016 world champion, withdrew in protest seconds before the end of the final and punched a hole in the wall of the warm-up area, as Indonesia’s Komang Harik Adi Putra bagged gold in the heated contest.
The athlete accused judges of bias and stormed out of a tumultuous match on Monday.
“I’m not mad at my opponent nor the supporters, but I’m mad because the jury didn’t give the point fairly,” 26-year-old Al-Jufferi said, according to the Games’ official website.
Al-Jufferi dominated the early part of the men’s 65-70kg final but 23-year-old Komang came back strongly.
Komang eventually clinched the match 4-1 and Al-Jufferi’s coach was left trying to calm the Malaysian down, who pulled out two seconds before the finish.
In an emotional exchange, Syed Saddiq also showed support to Al-Jufferi, who he called a “hero”.
Harry Warganegara, of Inasgoc, the Games organising committee, told AFP Al-Jufferi was unlikely to be sanctioned.
“We think it was very unfortunate though we try to understand (what the athlete was going through),” he says. “But I don’t think there will be any sanctions.”
Nazif Najib, secretary general of Malaysia’s National Olympic Committee (NOC), says he was waiting for the report from Inasgoc but agreed it was unlikely he would be punished.
“We think it was an athlete’s response, he was emotional so no sanctions,” he tells AFP.
Komang’s medal was one of eight golds for Indonesia in pencak silat at this year’s Asian Games.
And what of any sanctions for Muhammad Robial Sobri? We’ll wait and see.