Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Legendary goalkeeper Chow Chee Keong passed away this morning at about 7 am this morning.

He would have turned 69 on Nov 26.

May his soul rest in peace and the Lord grant him eternal rest.

As a tribute reproducing an interview I did with him four years ago which appeared in The Malay Mail.

The scribe with Chee Keong (first left) eight years ago at the UKRC function. Next to Chee Keong is another legend the late Wong Choon Wah, Datuk Santokh Singh and Yip Chee Keong.

The 'Steel Gate' keeper

Monday, July 14, 2014 - 12:49

CHOW CHEE KEONG (pic) is arguably the best goalkeeper Malaysia has ever produced, but today, instead of football, he is teaching golf in the Klang Valley.
A former student of St. John Institution, he had the rare distinction of playing for the national Under-20 youth team at the tender age of 13 and made his national debut as a 15-year-old! He played in five Merdeka tournaments (1965 to 1969) and was in the Malaysian team who won the title in 1968. He then turned professional in Hong Kong in 1970, where he played for a decade.
Early days
“I was very lucky to have played with some of the greats of Malaysian football like Abdul Ghani Minhat, Robert and Richard Choe, Dali Omar, Ibrahim Mydin, Abdullah Nordin, Syed Ahmad to name a few. Being only 15, I was treated like a son and they taught me many things which made me a better player,” said Chee Keong.
Chee Keong makes a save from the great Pele.
Stint in England
“I did my A Levels in King's College, England and went on to pursue a physical education course from 1966 to 1969. While I was there, I wanted to stay in touch with the game and Peter Velappan helped me get in touch with then West Ham manager Ron Greenwood to ask if I could train with their junior team," said Chee Keong, who will turn 65 on November 26. “I was given a chance to train with the juniors and whenever they needed a goalkeeper to play in the lower league games, they would call me. I would play at least one match a month. It was a great experience.”
Asked why he did not opt for a permanent stint in England, Chee Keong said it was difficult to break into the system in England and he was already fortunate to have had those temporary stints.

Turning pro in Hong Kong

“Many think I am the first Malaysian to turn professional. But I am not. The first was Perak’s Wong Kong Leong, who played in Australia for a short spell,” said Chee Keong.
“It was by chance that I turned pro. At the end of my three years in England, I decided to go for a holiday in Hong Kong with another college mate. I also wanted to meet my sifu, from whom I had learnt martial arts in Malaysia,” said Chee Keong, who is an exponent in karate, taekwondo and kung fu.
“While at my sifu’s home, I met the team doctor of Jardines FC, who asked if I could play for his club, who had to get three points from their remaining three matches to avoid relegation. I agreed and helped the team draw all three games and avoid relegation.
“That was when I was offered a contract for the new season. However, Jardine folded after a season and I moved on to South China AAA before ending my stint with Hong Kong Rangers FC.”


But despite an illustrious career which included being named Best Goalkeeper from 1966 to 1970 by the Asian Football Confederation, Chee Keong has regrets and it is because of that he is now involved in golf.
“I had a golden opportunity to play football in Brazil when I was in Hong Kong. Cruzerio FC came for a friendly match and they had Emerson Leao, one of the all-time best Brazilian goalkeepers. The local newspapers started to compare me with him, but in the end he did not play. It was after the game that I was approached to join the team,” said Chee Keong, who earned the nickname "Asian Stainless Steel Gate” and "Crazy Sword". “But I didn't take it seriously and that was the end of the story.
“The next year, when I was back in Malaysia, Cruzerio toured Malaysia and I was asked to play for the national team. And after the game, the offer to play in Brazil was made again. The condition was that I had to take up Brazilian citizenship.
“This time, I was serious about taking my career to the next level and decided to take up the offer. But I wanted to return to Malaysia after my stint in Brazil and had approached the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, then president of FA of Malaysia, and officials to assist me to get back my Malaysian citizenship . But I was turned down. With that went my hope of playing in Brazil.
“Till today, I regret I was denied an opportunity to taste professional football in the land of football.”
Chee Keong said his other regret was the way he was treated when he turned professional.
“Many called me a traitor to the nation, but nobody asked why I left to become a professional.
Firstly, for any footballer to improve, he has to play in a foreign league. Secondly, I did not come from a rich family. I needed money and it was a career. But I still returned to play for Malaysia when required in invitational tournaments.
“And when I returned from my pro stint, I remember writing a four-part series in a local newspaper, underlining the ills of Malaysian football, the way to go forward with a professional setup and management. My main contention was that for a professional league, it had to be run by professionals from a different entity and not FAM. It did not go down well with FAM and I was heavily criticised, such as what gave me the right to speak of professional football after playing in Hong Kong for a few years.
“That’s when I decided that I had enough with football. I turned to golf, not to just play but make it my career. I was a two-handicapper at one stage, but I was more interested in attending golf coaching and management courses and eventually started coaching in Hong Kong and China for 10 years be fore returning to coach here."
Married to Christina Kwok, the daughter of former FAM secretary, the late Datuk Kwok Kin Keng (1951-1980), Chee Keong has a 30-year-old son, who is a national ice-hockey goalkeeper and avid paint-ball player.

“Despite some disappointments in life, I am still a very happy and contented person doing what I love with a happy family.”

Chee Keong makes a save off an attempt by the great Pele.

Icons from the Past – CHOW CHEE KEONG (PART 2)

Telling as it is

Chow Chee Keong is a rare breed among Malaysian sportsmen, but there is not much records of his career. Last week, in an exclusive interview granted to MM Sport, he revealed many things not known about him and set many records straight.
The 64-year-old Chee Keong who rarely speaks to the media, opened up this time around and had so much to say that it was decided that a second-part the interview was fitting to make his story complete.
In this second-part Chee Keong, talks about local players, football administration and local fans.

IT was an era where goalkeepers were many and extremely talented, but Chow Chee Keong still emerged the top custodian.
There was Lim Fung Kee, Wong Kam Fook, the late R. Arumugam and Ong Yu Tiang and Rashid Hassan who came to the scene a little later, but Chee Keong remains the best goalkeeper ever to grace for Malaysia.
Not only was he voted Best Goalkeeper from 1966 to 1970 by the Asian Football Confederation, but he was sought by top Brazilian club Cruzerio FC. Pele whom Chee Keong played against on numerous occasions when he was plying his professional trade in Hong Kong, who became his good friend, had many kind words of his performances.

Other Malaysian follow suit

Chee Keong was instrumental in many other Malaysians who followed suit to play in Hong Kong which included Fung Kee, Kam Fook, the late Wong Choon Wah and Yip Chee Keong.
“These players approached me to help them find clubs in Hong Kong and I did. But sadly, many of them blamed me in bringing them to Hong Kong when they ran into difficulties coping with the local conditions,” revealed Chee Keong.
“Naturally the local players were not happy with us Malaysians playing in Hong Kong. They made it difficult for us, and became their target in matches. It was no different for me when I first went to Hong Kong, where I had to use my martial arts skills in goalkeeping to prevent myself frm getting injured.
“I also had to be mentally strong and determined to make a name for myself.”
Chee Keong said some of the Malaysian players who came to Hong Kong were not mentally strong and soon went into depressions and wanted out.
“Yip Chee Keong was an exception. He adapted himself well and was a hit with South China FC.”
Chee Keong said that Malaysian players should strive to play overseas because all over the world the better players play in leagues outside their home country.
“That is the only way to improve one’s game and all the challenges they are faced with, will only make them better players.

Malaysian players

“It is sad that I hear that many Malaysian players who have had the opportunity to go overseas have returned sighting weather conditions, food, language, missing home and not being able to stand the tough training or blending with the team.
“As long as this continues, Malaysian players are not going to improve and reach high standards just playing at home,” stressed Chee Keong.
He took a dig at present day athletes who take things for granted and are pampered lot and who do not know what sacrifice is all about.
“I cannot believe that present day sportsmen and woman and lack ambition to improve themselves and reach for the highest level of performance.
“They are so easily contended and get into the comfort zone. They do not push themselves and shun hardwork.”         

Malaysian football

Malaysian football, in fact he hopes all sports are administered by sportsmen and women rather than politicians and ones who do not have a clue of the sport.
“It is sad that many sports associations are run by people who do not have a clue of the sports or are not sportingly orientated,” said Chee Keong.
“Many helm the sports for their own personally gain or just to be popular and enjoy the benefits.
“We need officials who are passionate of the sports and want to take their sports to the highest level possible
He also took a dig at present day athletes who take things for granted and are pampered lot who do not know what sacrifice is and do not have ambitions to improve themselves.


“Malaysia is very lucky to have loyal fans who pack the stadium week in and week out despite the poor quality of football dished out,” said Chee Keong.
“It is about time that something is done for the fans so that they get their money’s worth.
“Right now they are being cheated as the football is of poor quality.
“The governing body, the coaches and players have an obligation to treat the fans to better quality games.
“These people have to remember that the day the fans despite to walkout on them, they will be playing to empty stadiums and the football will fall flat in country.
“I hope they do not take the fans for granted.”

Thursday, February 15, 2018


A legendary football official, R. Ramalingam (FA of Selangor & FA of Malaysia) passed away on Feb 6. 
Sadly his passing did not get the mention he rightly deserved.
Even the local media missed it and hardly a word was mentioned. Many current sports journalists did not know him, but it was sad that the football fraternity too failed to highlight his passing and remembering his contribution to football.
I have personally known him since i started writing in 1977 and have reported on him hundreds of times.
Sadly, I could not pay my last respects to him because I was unaware of his passing. His obituary advertisement appeared in The Star but sadly I did not purchase the newspaper that day.
Many in the football circle knew about his passing, but again sadly none informed me.
I only knew of his passing two days ago when his daughter Gayathiry, send me an email after she traced me through this blog and requested some details of her father.

This is what she wrote in the email:

Hi Tony,

My name is Gayathiry and my dad, Mr R Ramalingam was actively involved in Selangor and Malaysian soccer in the late 60’s (i think) and early 90’s. I found your contact when I googled his name.

He passed away last week (6 Feb) and I am trying to piece together his football ‘career’  for his remembrance book. Very much ashamed to admit that as much as I know he was passionate about football and doing the right thing for the game, I don’t know enough of his actual contribution to the game. As he had fallen sick by the time I became an adult, I was never able to have a proper conversation on this with him for me to fully appreciate his contribution to the game.
Based on your blog and illustrious career as a veteran sports journalist, would appreciate it very much if you would be able to give me some pointer on this.

I got in touch with Gayathiry and gave her whatever assisttace I could give here.

I last saw him a few years ago at another football legendary official, Dato' Paul Murugasu's funeral a few years ago. He was already wheel chair bound and managed to speak to him.
Sir Ramalingam you may have left us, but you will always be remembered.
Rest in peace Sir Ramalingam.  

Gayathiry as a remembrance of her beloved father, has complied a detail description of his work with Malaysian football. 

It is a fitting tribute and those who do not know him, it is a great insight to his contribution to Malaysia football.

This is Gayathiry's compliation:

Aum@Ramalingam s/o Retnasingam

Summary of Contribution

 Mr Aum @ Ramalingam has been an asset to Malaysian football since his involvement at school and district level in the late 50's. He graduated to state level seamlessly, and served Selangor with utmost passion and love for the game.
With his growing influence and success in the sport, his involvement continued to national level on various capacity. He was appointed national team Manager for prestigious tournaments such as Pesta Bola Merdeka and the Asian Cup.
On numerous occasions and in full view of the DYMM Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, he has led a team of talented Malaysian footballers to success on the legendary field of Merdeka Stadium.
Perhaps the greatest moment in Malaysian football, its zenith if you may, was achieved in 1980 when we qualified for the Moscow Olympics. Ramalingam was the Assistant Manager of that team, and together with the other officials and players, have earned themselves a place in the annals of Malaysian sports.
Theirs was an achievement spoken of till today, and has been a source of inspiration to our national footballers. The late Bakar Daud, who was the manager of that team, spoke highly of Ramalingam's role in the management of that team, and the pair linked up many times in the future.
Besides management of the team, Ramalingam was heavily involved in the promotion of football in Malaysia. Among others, he organised a world tour where Selangor state players played against great clubs in Europe and America. In 1982, he brought the greatest football player of all time, Diego Maradona to Malaysia. Pitting the great Maradona against our very own legend Mokhtar Dahari, it was a moment not many Malaysians will forget.
Over the years, he brought many other famous football clubs to Malaysia, and the players were not the only ones rejoicing, as fans witnessed top class matches live. He was a pioneer then, and his endeavours promoted football to greater heights. Like most leaders, Ramalingam never set out to achieve personal fame and fortune. He gave over 30 of his best years to developing what is now the most popular sport in Malaysia.
It is not a stretch to believe that his involvement in the beautiful game will continue to this day, had the effects of multiple strokes not taken a toll on his health.
Ramalingam is truly an unsung national hero, whose contributions, both tangible and intangible, are far-reaching. He had the pleasure of patriotically serving the country he loves, his Tanah Air, and for that he is blessed.
Selected Contribution School & District Level (From 1958 to 1965) • Chairman of Selangor School Sports Council (xxx)
• Refereed various football matches at school leagues, district level leagues and Football Association of Selangor (FAS) league, amongst others Khir Johari Cup Finals (between Royal Military College & Victoria Institution in 1963)
• Referees Board Secretary (1965) • Chairman of Football Sub-Committee for Selangor Schools Selangor State Level (1965-1992) • Football Association of Selangor (FAS) Class 2 Referee for Selangor League. As Class 2 Referee, refereed numerous matches in this league. • Secretary of FAS Referees Board
• Honorary Secretary of FAS (1967-1969) • Selangor Team Secretary for AFC Champion Cup Tournament whereby the Selangor team emerged as finalist • FAS Treasurer (1971-1978) • Manager of the Selangor Team for the first Piala Razak Tournament
• Organized world tour for the Selangor Team as reward for winning the Malaysia Cup in 1978. In order to raise the requisite fund for the world tour, organized various friendly matches.
• Manager of the Selangor Team that emerged as champions in the 1979 Malaysia Cup • Vice President of FAS (1984 – 1992)
• Chairman of the Mokhtar Dahari Fund Raising Committee • Sourced players for the Selangor team from various countries • Raising funds and sponsorships from various corporate bodies for FAS National Level (19XX to 1992)
• Malaysian Team Manager for Pesta Bola Merdeka 

Saturday, December 30, 2017


This article appeared in the Malay Mail last year:
Memories of Ampang Park by Tony Mariadass
“Ampang Park shopping complex, holds fond memories for me for as a schoolboy, it was my playground.
I had the pleasure of seeing the complex – the first shopping complex in Malaysia – being built and officially opening its doors in 1973.
I was in Form Three then and the very next year, I moved to about fifteen minutes’ walk from the complex, where my late father was the steward for a guest house in Jalan Freeman (now Jalan Ampang Hilir).
While there was a bus which went to Ampang Hilir once every hour, the last bus was at 7pm and if for any reason I missed that bus, I had to get down in front of Ampang Park and walk along Circular Road (later Jalan Pekeliling and now Tun Razak) to reach home.
And sometimes after school in St John Institution, my friend and football teammate Anuar Che Wan, who also stayed at Ampang Hilir, would rush after school at 1.20pm to catch the 1.30pm bus and many a time missed it.
So we took the bus to Ampang Park and walked home. It happened more often than not and we would end up at the Complex to get some cool air and do some window shopping besides looking at the ‘scenes’ or what we used to call ‘cuci mata’, before heading home.
We were students and did not have money to spend at the complex. Occasionally we would have saved money to get an ice-cream at the ice-cream parlour on the ground floor.
The Fitzpatrick’s supermarket on the ground floor was another favourite place of ours we would look at the grocery displayed and occasionally bought a bun or sweet before we headed home.
On weekends, Ampang Complex would be our playground in the mornings and evenings, we would be playing football in our neighbourhood.
During the weekends, we would cycle to the complex and would chain our bicycles at the back and many a time had problems with the security guards who refused to allow us to leave our bicycles at bays meant for motorcycles.
Once in a while we would watch a movie at the complex.
Traffic then was a breeze then and it was just two single roads in front of Ampang Park. Only on weekends, the traffic got heavier as almost the whole town converged to the complex which was a hit then.
I and my friend Anuar and with a few more friends from the neighbourhood had spent many hours combing the four-storey building.
Another favourite spot of ours was the playground on the rooftop where the dodgem bumper cars was our favourite. Again it was only in rare occasions we had enough money to ride on it. But we spent hours just watching the ‘rich kids’ having fun for hours.
Having been hooked to Ampang Park and wanting to come to the complex as a ‘real patron’ I decided to organise a farewell do for my classmates of 1975 after our final Malaysian Certificate of Education (MCE) paper in November.
We managed to get about ten of us interested and each had to fork out about RM20 (which was big money then) for a night out at the rooftop Beer Garden.
It was our first taste of beer for most of us and we arrived early to enjoy the ‘Happy Hour ‘prices.
It was a night to remember as we stayed late, listened to the resident band and stayed over at a friend’s father shop house along Jalan Silang.
Till today, we talk about it and will definitely be the main topic as about 20 classmates of mine meet next Friday for 40 year reunion with some of our teachers too.
After leaving school and doing my form six in St John’s, but through night classes under the Further Education Classes (FEC), I had to look for a job to pay for my school fees.
As it happened I found a job as a despatch clerk with the Austrian Trade Commission which was located on Persiaran Hampshire, which was five minutes away from Ampang Park.
I worked there for a year and spend more time in Ampang Park, this time with a salary, I could buy clothings, shop at the supermarket and visit the many outlets.
Come Christmas, I bought all my gifts from the complex.
Ampang Park had a wide range offers in Malay fashion, every day shopping needs like textiles, shoes and handbags, groceries, toiletries and household products, as well as banking, post office, travel, and currency exchange services. It had photographic stores with the latest cameras and accessories, beauty and hair salons offering a range of attractive styles and spa services to suit every budget.
It was also a food-haven with renowned food and beverage outlets, serving delicious local and international cuisine. It was a one-stop outlet.
How can I forget the MacDonalds where I spent many hours.
But sadly after moving out of the area, I had hardly revisited it, especially with so many complexes springing up.
But each time I pass Ampang Park, memories will come flooding back, especially how I grew up there as a schoolboy and teenager.
With news that the iconic Ampang Park mall will be demolished for the planned underground Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station, is indeed sad.
Memories will be erased or will only be remembered as memories without the building standing there to remind the good times for those who grew up with it.
Can it be saved for nostalgic reasons? Unlikely as more often than not in the name of development many historical and iconic sites have had to make way.
Whatever happens, Ampang Park will be etched in my memory for as long as I live.”
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Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Malaysian sports never fails to amazes. They make baffling decisions and their explanations is even more baffling. They never seem to come out clean. Decisions are their prerogative but make the right decisions without agendas or pressure.

Friday, December 15, 2017



 JULY 28th 2017 saw my last column – Level Field – published in the Malay Mail, as I decided I will no longer continue with the column.
That column was my 209th consecutive column, since I returned to Malay Mail in 2013 and then continued as a columnist and specialist writer on a part-time basis from late 2014.
My first article as a stringer with the Malay Mail appeared on Nov 17, 1977. My Level Field column began during my late stages with Malay Mail after 2000 and have another 150 odd columns written during the period.

I left in April 2006 as the Malay Mail Sports Editor and soon was working as the Sports Media officer with former Sports Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman, before following her as the Tourism Minister for nine months, before I left in February 2010.
It has been exciting, experiencing and exhilarating journey with fond memories which is a major part of my life – to be exact having spent close to 40 years as a sport journalist.
It was a difficult decision to stop writing and I am sad that I had to.
But many circumstances led me to call it quits.
Many things have changed from the good old days of sports journalism.
While I accept changes, but I cannot stand it when the profession which is supposed to be pure, fair, honest and telling it as it is, is compromised.
Too many agendas are linked and one cannot write honestly.
Yes, sports journalists do make mistakes occasionally and we readily admit to it and make the necessary corrections.
But more often than not, our articles are well researched and written based on facts or very reliable information.
I am very passionate about local sports and want to see the best for Malaysian sports, athletes and officials.
But when the sports is short changed, I will not stand by and see it happen.
We give our views and expose shortcomings with the hope that something is done to make it right or put sports back on the right track.
I have travelled quite a bit for international sports events, worked with top class coaches and administrators, visited top clubs and international sports associations, which has given me insights to the professional workings and ethics, to make Malaysian sports too realise its true potential.
But when the truth is spoken, faults or shortcomings pointed out, many of the powers to be react negatively instead of addressing the issue.
They try to use their clout to stop the writers from continuing to write, blacklist them, give them the cold shoulders and treat them like plague. Newspaper bosses are contacted to drop the writers, tone down or not to publish negative reports.
In the newspaper world, good and bad news, is news. And unlike tweets and blogs, newspapers have a more stringent responsibility and can be hauled if fake or stories are written without facts.
Of course, there are genuine and sports loving officials who act and conduct themselves professionally and who are a blessing to Malaysian sports.
It is because of these handful officials that I am still involved in sports in trying to give back sports from the years of experience I have gained through sports journalism.
Then, we also have officers of the powers to be, who behave like they own the sports and try to exert the wills of their bosses. These officials sometimes have no clue of sports or have been not been involved in sports or sports media. Sometimes they even act on their own trying to please their bosses.
In short, the shortcoming in sports is nothing new. It has been there for decades now, but the only difference is that it is getting worse.
The rot has to stop, if Malaysian sports is to be saved or to have a future.
Millions of ringgit is available to sports these days, sports is professional, athletes can make a living out of sports, we have world class sporting facilities, but yet we fall short of excellence.
We can be first class nation in sports, but with third class mentality, we will continue to fail big time.
We need sports officials who are passionate, sincere, professional, place sports above themselves and do not have personal agendas.
I know of many sports officials who in the sports for their own benefit and agendas. Many will be eyeing for the Datuk, Datuk Seri and Tan Sri titles!
I have written many articles of the good, bad and ugly of Malaysian sports over almost four decades.
The good will be met with smiles, pat on the back and congratulations, but the bad and ugly will see heads turn away and branded as ‘enemy No 1 or anti-government.’
While I like to believe all the writings over the years has made some difference to Malaysian sports, but generally today’s news in the newspapers, become tomorrow’s ‘nasi lemak’ packings!
I am not giving up on Malaysian sports. I am just fed up with the way it is heading and all the writings can be recycled by just changing the date and year and it is still relevant and current.
Thus, I have now resorted to give my views, if required through electronic media. Even then, blocks are in place not to engage.
But I do get occasional calls from BFM and Bernama TV and say it as it. It may ruffle some feathers, but at least I know I am saying it to their faces or ears and it will not be used for nasi lemak packing!
I doubt what I say will make any difference because it will continue to get a deaf ear or blind eye, but at least I get the satisfaction of saying my piece and hopefully some appreciate it.
So I sign off, still hoping that there is hope for Malaysian sports and hopefully the right things are done for the sports and not the popular ones.

Friday, August 4, 2017


Sea Games – 1973 Singapore (2nd), 1975 Bangkok (gold), 1977 Kuala Lumpur (gold), 1979 Jakarta (gold)
Asian Games – 1974 Tehran (third),
Olympics – 1976 Montreal (8th), 1980 Moscow (boycott), 1984 Los Angeles (11th)
World Cup – 1978 Buenos Aires (9th), 1982 Bombay (10th)
Lahore International Hockey tournament 1976 (4th)
Esanda World Hockey tournament 1979 (9th)
Nehru Memorial tournament New Delhi (3rd)
Inter Continental Cup KL 1981 (2nd)
Pesta Sukan Singapore 1981 (champion)
Captained the Malaysian team – 1979-1982
Voted Malaysian Hockey team Player of the year for Malaysian Sportsman of the Year Award - 1979, 1980 and 1981
Voted best player – Jakarta Sea Games, Esanda World Hockey tournament
Olympic Council of Malaysia Hall of Fame - 2013
 Member of the Malaysian Hockey Federation (now Malaysian Hockey Confederation - MHC) disciplinary board from 2008 to 2009
 Independent Council member of MHC from 2010 to 2012.
Penang State Hockey Association in 2012
Relinquished his independent post and became MHC Council member by virtue of president of PHA.
Elected as a vice-president of the MHC at their annual general meeting in 2015.

 At the Press Conference on Wednesday  

Level Field

THE Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) probably have got more than they bargained for with too much on the plate to chew, after their former coaching chairman Datuk Ow Soon Kooi’s clarifications.

Ow held a press conference of Wednesday with regards to his resignation as the vice-president of MHC, chairman of the coaching committee and a member of the national team’s management committee and to state some facts and figures with regards to his work with MHC.
What he had revealed surely must have ruffled some feathers in the MHC hierarchy.
However, it was not Ow’s intention to go on a witch-hunt or to point fingers at anyone, but merely to state his case with facts and figures to clear his tarnished reputation as a corporate figure by media reports with regard to his resignation and his background.
It was indeed a surprise that Ow had called for a press conference because he is one who shuns publicity and who works from the background without getting into the limelight.
But it was obvious Ow – a double Olympian (Montreal 1976, Los Angeles 1984), double world-cupper (Buenos Aires 1978, Bombay 1982) and the only Malaysian hockey captain (1979-1982) – was hurt the way his image was tarnished after relinquishing his posts in MHC where he had served with honesty, sincerity and above all the passion for the game. 
Ow, a former senior police officer who hails from Penang, would have been a three-time Olympian had Malaysia not boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980.
Ow has served the sports for good 40 years as a player, coach and hockey administrator. He was elected as a vice-president of the MHC at their annual general meeting in 2015.
The least he should have been accorded when he decided to part ways with the game, was appreciation and thank you.

After all his reason stated when he relinquished all posts in MHC was because of his cervical spondylosis which was affecting his health and was in constant pain.

But when his integrity was in question, he probably was left with no choice but to come out in the open to clear his name.

Even at the Press Conference he remained his humble self and even efforts by the media to pinpoint personnel for his decision to opt out of the game he loved so much, he blamed no one or threw brickbats anyone.

He was magnanimous in wishing MHC all the very best and even said that his former teammate Soon Mustapha, who is the new coaching chairman has all the credentials to head the committee and was confident that he will do a good job.

At the Press Conference, he was merely stated facts to say that his coaching committee members had worked hard and did their job in all sincerity to help uplift the standard of the game in the country.

Of course, when they could no longer execute their roles effectively, four members of the coaching, decided to tender in their resignation after they found out that Ow had tendered his resignation.

The four were former national skippers R. Ramakrishnan (two Olympics, three World Cups, 1978 World Cup captain), Ahmad Sayuti (former international), Lam Sau Foong (ex-Malaysian women’s captain), Shahbuddin Royani (Johor hockey secretary).

Another former women’s hockey captain, K. Maheswari, had resigned from the committee much earlier because of her work commitment.

All were present the Press Conference in support of Ow.

Ow must have surely done something right and for the good of hockey, purely based on the support shown to him with the number of people who turned up to the Press Conference.

Present was a line-up of who’s who in Malaysian hockey – former MHF secretary general and international umpire Datuk G. Vijayanathan, 1975 World Cup captain Datuk N. Sri Shanmuganthan, his teammates T. Pathmarajah, M. Mahendran and Datuk Poon Fook Loke, Gurmit Singh, M. Sambu, Datuk Mirnawan Nawawi, Mary Soo and Teh Siew Bee to name a few. Also present was former national juniors coach Balbir Singh.

Ow clearly stated his only agenda to be involved in hockey was to give back to the game which has given him so much.

“I just wanted a platform to give back to the game I am very passionate about and which has made me what I am today,” said the 61 year-old who played as right-inside half during his heydays.

It was his love for hockey and people who cared for him, that made a difference in his life.

“I cannot forget my early days when I was struggling to make ends meet and even applied for exemption for school fees of $7.50 from the State Education department who granted me the exemption,” recalled Ow of his early days.

“Penang Free School was noted for its prowess in hockey and the hockey teacher N. Velu Pillay played a key role in developing me,” revealed Ow who was in Francis Light School during his primary school days.

“I am indeed lucky to be what I am today and owe it to many people along the way. I am forever indebted to them.

Ow, is tenth from a poor family of 13 in Georgetown, Penang.

“That is why, I give back to the game whatever I can and never forget my roots,” said Ow.

After school he started off as a waiter at a hotel in Penang.

But he was sacked after a while as he was taking too much time-off for hockey.

It was then that Osman Kamal, hockey convenor of Penang Port Commission PPC), who was the PPC’s security chief, who saw Ow play and was impressed.
Osman found out that Ow was jobless and was from a poor family and decided to offer him a job as a fireman in 1974 before moving up to be a security clerk.

"Osman was my ‘godfather’. If not for him spotting me and encouraging me, I will not be what I am today.”

Ow then applied to join the Police Force, where Osman assisted again and was recruited as Probationary Inspector in 1976 and retired at the age of 40 as Chief Inspector before moving onto the corporate world.

Probably Ow’s only mistake was that he only knows to work by following structures and rules laid down, as a corporate figure and former police officer.

Without doubt Ow is among the rare breed of sports administrators who is not only passionate of the game, but is in the game to give what he can and not take what he can or has ulterior motives and agendas.

His decision to withdraw himself from the sporting world is indeed a great loss. But at this moment his health is of paramount importance, and his decision must be rested and wish him all then best to get better in his health.

But rest assured, knowing Ow, he will continue to help sports and people n anyway he can and as usual from the background without any fanfare and publicity.

TONY is a sports
journalist with close to
four decades’ experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at