Thursday, November 28, 2002

Cloak-and-dagger (27/11/2002 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 27/11/2002
Headline : Cloak-and-dagger

IT is baffling that the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) are not
revealing the names of the contenders for the various posts at their
elections on Dec 14.
OCM secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi said he has his reasons for not
revealing the nominations as there is bound to be changes. As such, OCM
need to ask those who have been nominated whether they are really
interested in the post or have been nominated without their consent.
He also said the full list of names can only be released on Nov 30 after
the final day for acceptance of nominations by the candidates.
"The candidates still have two weeks to campaign if they want," he said.
But that is not the point.
The public should be informed of those nominated because being nominated
itself is an honour for the candidates and it reflects confidence in his
It does not matter whether the candidate chooses to stand for election
or not.
There are some who argue that if the name of the nominee was released
and the person decides to withdraw, it will be embarrassing.
What matters here is the fact that the public and the sports fraternity
especially, need to know who has been nominated.
When nominations closed on Nov 14, OCM president Tunku Imran Tuanku
Ja'afar, Sieh and Datuk Kee Yong Wee were the incumbents returned
However, there were three nominations for the deputy-president's post,
currently held by Tan Sri Khir Johari. Khir has indicated that he will not
seek re-election.
There were 13 nominations, including three women, for the five vice
president posts. There is a provision to reserve one vice president post
for a woman but since there are three nominations, one will fill the
automatic seat with two challenging for the remaining four posts.
The five incumbent vice-presidents are Datuk Khalid Yunus, Datuk M.
Jegathesan, W.Y. Chin, Datuk Syed Mohamed Aidid and Norminshah Sabirin.
All five have been nominated and they will defend their seats.
Incumbent assistant secretaries Mohamed Fadzil Othman and Latifah Ya'cob
will be challenged by two men and one woman.
For the assistant treasurer's post, currently held by S. Jahendran,
there were three nominations.
The talk in the corridors of OCM is that one of the reasons for the
secrecy on nomination is because of attempts by some parties to ask the
nominees not to stand for certain posts.
It is learnt that Fadzil is not seeking re-election as assistant
Former NSC director of international preparations and BAM general
manager Phua Tai Neng, and National Association of Archery Malaysia's Mej
(R) Baharuddin Jamil have been nominated for the post.
OCM have already sent out letters to all the nominees asking them for
acceptance and one nominee confirmed that he received his letter
yesterday. Another said there was an added note in the letter asking him
to see an OCM official.
Certainly, there can be more transparency in OCM. All these speculations
will only undermine their credibility.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Review of national incentive scheme in order (13/11/2002 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 13/11/2002
Headline : Review of national incentive scheme in order

THE sooner the national incentive scheme is revised, the better it will be
for sports in the country.
Once too often we have heard of athletes wanting to quit the moment they
get the windfall from the incentive scheme given out by the National
Sports Council.
Weightlifter Amirul Hamizan Ibrahim had planned on quitting but later
said he wanted to take a year's break to study. Karate exponents S.
Premila and M. Srirajarajeswari intend to quit after the world
championships next year.
Amriul was a triple gold medal winner at the Commonwealth Games, with
Premila winning gold in Busan while Srirajarajeswari taking a bronze.
Gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games were worth
RM80,000, while silver was RM40,000 and bronze RM20,000.
NSC not only pay out these bonuses for victory, but also finance
athletes and associations in their development and training, which
includes overseas exposure and monthly allowances for the athletes.
And when NSC spend so much money to see the athletes reach the highest
level possible, it is surely not for one-off achievements. They would reap
long-term benefits.
Of course, when the athlete can no longer perform because of the higher
level of competition, age or serious injury, they can gracefully bow out.
But more often than not, athletes bow out much earlier, especially when
they receive lucrative payouts.
It is for this reason that the incentive scheme formula has to be
reviewed. They should only be given a portion immediately with the rest
being invested into a saving and pension scheme.
The Korean system encourages athletes to remain in the sport longer as
the pension scheme and dividends they receive correspond with achievement.
There is a need to look again at proposals made in 1997. They allowed
NSC to enter into an agreement with the sport association and athletes
that they served the nation for a certain number of years.
However, for some reason, the NSC board rejected the proposals.
For the record, RM12,328,238 had been paid out since 1986 (when the
scheme was launched) until last year.
For the Commonwealth Games in Manchester this year, RM1,564,000 was paid
out to the 33 medal-winners (seven gold, nine silver and 18 bronze
medals), coaches and associations.
For 2001 alone, RM1,204,061.50 was paid, out of which RM775,500 was for
achievements at the SEA Games.
In 2000, the total was RM450,200, whereas in 1999, it was RM968,900.
These figures do not include the money spent preparing for the various
Games. For instance, RM40 million was spent on preparations for last
year's SEA Games.

Friday, October 11, 2002

Don't do this to Kevin (10/10/2002 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 10/10/2002
Headline : Don't do this to Kevin

IT will indeed be a sad day for Malaysian sports if the National Sports
Council (NSC) go ahead in lessening their support for sailor Kevin Lim
Leong Keat, who won a silver (in the Laser event) in Busan, in his
preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Kevin, who turned 26 on Sept 24, was reported as saying on Tuesday he
was concerned that the NSC financial backing may be affected following his
failure to win the gold. He needs RM150,000 for next year's programme.
It was also reported that as far as NSC are concerned, Kevin has been
given enough time to prove himself and that they will have to review his
But consider this. The final year medical student has made sacrifices.
If not for sailing, he will have finished his studies at Australia's New
South Wales University in six years instead of eight years.
He postponed a year of his studies in 2000 to train for the Sydney
Olympics. The fact that Kevin has more often than not won medals, be it at
SEA Games or Asian level, and is still eyeing success in his third
Olympics, speaks of his ability and determination.
If Malaysia have more athletes like Kevin, sports in the country will be
making waves.
Kevin is studying to be a doctor. not sports science or anything like
that. His studies may be tough but yet he has given time to national
duties. That's commendable, to say the least.
It will be too drastic a move to knock the financial winds out of
Kevin's sails just because he didn't meet the NSC target of gold in Busan.
And it is not that he finished a disappointing fifth or so. He was second
in Asia, up there on the podium.
Kevin's silver efforts should be appreciated for he had gone on to Busan
after suffering a back injury weeks earlier at the Laser World
championships at Cape Cod, United States, and it had forced him to pull
out with three races to go.
In Busan, the gold was won by Korean Kim Ho Kon, who rose to the
occasion in his own backyard. In the Sydney Olympics, Kevin had finished
ahead of Kim.
Kevin has been given a scholarship by the Sports Ministry to study
medicine. After having supported him for much of the way, it would be
cruel to pull the plug on him at this stage.
As it is costly to hire coaches in Australia fulltime, he has opted to
get coaches on hourly rates. And he has managed to train with Olympics
silver medallist Michael Blackburn.

1990 - Beijing Asian Games (fourth in Optimist)
1994 - Hiroshima Asian Games (fourth in Laser)
1995 - Bangkok Sea Games (bronze)
1996 - Atlanta Olympics (38th)
1997 - Jakarta Sea Games (gold)
1998 - Bangkok Asian Games (silver)
1999 - World Laser championship, Melbourne (65th)
2000 - World Laser championship, Mexico (48th), NSW & ACT State Laser
2000 - Sydney Olympics (22nd)
2001 - KL SEA Games (gold)
2001 - runnerup at the 10th Asian championships in Busan
2001 - 49th in the 2001 Laser World championships in Ireland.
2002 - Sail Sydney 2002 International Regatta - winner
2002 - Port Stephen Winter Paradise Regatta - winner
2002 - World Laser championship, Cape Cod, USA - gold fleet - opted out
with three races to go because of back injury - 59th out of 66 in fleet.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Elyas the man?

VETERAN sports leader, Tan Sri Elyas Omar, has emerged as the most likely
candidate to replace Sultan Azlan Shah as president of the Malaysian
Hockey Federation (MHF).
Elyas - the former Kuala Lumpur FA president and Badminton Association
of Malaysia (BAM) supremo - is currently not involved with any sport.
It was revealed by Mailsport yesterday that Sultan Alan will not seek
re-election when MHF hold their Biennial General Meeting (BGM) on Oct 26.
Several names came up as likely candidates. However, Sultan Azlan's son,
Raja Nazrin Shah, has made it quite clear that he does not intend to
succeed his father.
"He will decline all nominations," said a close aide of Raja Nazrin.
"Raja Nazrin has no interest in taking over the MHF leadership from his
father. In fact, he does not even want to discuss his father's decision to
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday declined as well.
"Frankly, I am immersed in my work and other matters, which is why I
have to respectfully decline," Najib said yesterday.
"Besides, I don't play need someone who is passionate about
the sport to lead the association."
Najib's late father, Tun Abdul Razak, was the president of the MHF
during his tenure as Prime Minister.
And that leaves Elyas as the popular candidate.
In fact, it was learnt there have been behind-the-scene manoeuvres to
entice Elyas. At least four States are expected to nominate him when
nominations for the BGM close on Sept 26.
Elyas, the former Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, held several positions in
various sports association. Under him, Malaysia won the badminton Thomas
Cup in 1992.
Kuala Lumpur were also a force in Malaysian soccer under him.
When contacted yesterday, Elyas laughed off the suggestion that he is
being sought to lead the MHF.
"This is news to me," said Elyas. "You mean people still remember me.
I'm sure there are more capable and younger leaders to head MHF."
When asked if he had been approached, Elyas replied: "Let's just say
everything is merely speculation at this moment. Please leave it at that.
"People may be testing the waters by dropping my name in."
Kuala Lumpur HA president, Tan Sri Noordin Hassan, is another man who is
being courted. Noordin was a MHF vice-president from 1984 to 1993.

Friday, January 25, 2002

Foreign Mercenaries vs Local Guns (The Malay Mail)

PERHAPS to the frowns of local players but to the excitement of fans, the
foreign legion are returning to the 2002 M-League.
The presence of these international soldiers of fortune of the game will
mean fewer places in Premier One and Premier Two for local players.
After an absence of three years, the FA of Malaysia are reopening the
doors of the M-League to foreign players in order to inject more
excitement into the league.
After three seasons of all local players in the league. we will get to
judge whether the return of the foreign players will make a difference, at
least in gate attendance. if not in standards.
In recent years, teams have complained of poor gates as few fans showed
up at the stadiums to watch fellow Malaysians play.
Generally, the return of foreign players is seen as a timely injection
into the league to rekindle interest, and hopefully improve the standards
of the game and fill the stands.
But one cannot deny that the absence of foreign players has given local
players more opportunities to make their mark. And the success of the
national Under-23 squad in reaching the SEA Games final last year is ample
proof that talents have surfaced over the last three years.
Significantly, not all teams are rushing into hiring foreign players and
some, determined to prove a thing or two, will stick to an all local cast
season this time.
This will enable FAM, and fans to see for themselves what influence the
foreign players have on Malaysian soccer.
After the Semi-Pro league was introduced in 1989 and it went fully
professional in 1996, this is a significant year for the game as we will
see which direction it is headed.
The inclusion of foreign players will deny at least two local players
each team a first XI spot if every outfit are to fill up their foreign
At an average of one foreign player per team, at least 24 local players
are going to be denied action in the Premier I and II League.
If this pushes back Malaysian soccer, one wonders how much it would
dilute the pool of the national team.
But at the same time, another school of thought is that the
participation of of foreign players will help Malaysian soccer rise.
In retrospect, from 1989 to 1998, 453 foreign players graced the M-
How much has it helped Malaysian soccer?
A breakdown of foreign players who have played in Malaysia is as
follows: 1989 (34); 1990 (45); 1991 (45); 1992 (48); 1993 (48); 1994 (48);
1995 (47); 1996 (32); 1997 (55) and 1998 (51).
Granted that, this time FAM have introduced stringent measures that only
quality foreign players are hired, but still, the move to bring them back
is debatable.
Is it the crowds in the stands that we are interested in, or the
development of the game in the country?
If the State FAs only use the money they spend on foreign players on
soccer development, the benefits will certainly be far larger and
Everything points to the teams being more interested in trophies than
Malaysian soccer.
Penang, one of the States who have decided to stay fully local, should
be applauded for their stand. And if they can achieve results against the
foreign players powered teams, they will have proved a point.
The other interesting factor will be the performance of club teams,
especially Johor FC, who won Premier II last season, and Negri Sembilan
Chempaka I - as they make their Premier I debut.
A lot has been said about club soccer, but more often than not, it is in
a negative manner, despite the achievements of teams like Johor FC.
For reasons best known to the State FAs, there have been moves to deny
clubs the opportunity to play at the highest level.
Many State FAs seem to feel insecure over the presence of these clubs,
who more often than not, are better managed than State teams, the former
however are quick to deny this.
Many fail to realise or even accept the fact that Kedah, Police and
Armed Forces last year finished below the clubs in Premier II.
Kedah got RM1 million while Police and Armed Forces got RM300,000 each
but yet faltered behind clubs who received only RM200,000 each from FAM.
Thus it is ironic that Police and got an increase of RM100,000 to a
subsidy of RM400,000 for the new season, It is indeed sad that some State
FA officials are short-sighted and blinded by personal agendas, leaving
the game to suffer.
Thus, it is important that Johor FC and Chempaka do well in Premier I to
prove that club soccer is thriving and leading to the betterment of
Malaysian soccer.
The 2002 M-League certainly has all the trappings of an exciting season
for many reasons but at the end of the season, is Malaysian soccer going
to benefit?

Norizam Ali Hassan (Perak): 13
Khalid Jamlus (Perak): 11
Rusdi Suparman (Selangor): 11
Wan Rohaimi Wan Ismail (Ter): 10
Hasmawi Hassan (Penang): 9
Liew Kim Tu (KL): 9

2001 FACTS
Total goals (Premier One)
362 in 132 league matches for an average of 2.09 per match.
Best Attack
Penang (45 goals)
Best Defence
Penang (concede 14 goals)
Highest Scoring game
Pahang 6 Negri Sembilan 2