Friday, May 29, 2009

History Repeats Itself

As I archived my sports columns from 1991 to 2006 into the blog for reference, I could not believe the number of columns that were still relevant. In fact, many of these columns, if reprinted now, will still gel with current issues.

It only underlined the fact that I have not missed much on the sports scene in the last three years I have not been writing. I was still very much in contact with sports during this period, but could not express my views.

I missed expressing my views because I am passionate about Malaysian sports and want to whatever little I can to make changes to make it better. There is no doubt there is tremendous potential in Malaysian sports, especially in the present times, since there is great support from the Government and the private sector. We have ultra-modern sports facilities, have organised numerous international sporting events, our officials are in top positions in international sports organisations, have an abundance of experienced coaches and officials and talented athletes in various sports.

However, we have attained world-class standard in few sports and even then they are not consistent. Among the sports that can claim having attained world standard include badminton, squash and tenpin bowling, with others like cycling and archery coming close behind. Gone are the days when we used to rule in soccer and even our traditional sports sepak takraw!

A great deal of the rot in sports here has to do with a lack of professionalism administration in many associations, poor attitude and lack of discipline among athletes and officials, lack of emphasis on development programmes, politicking, abuse of financial aid and funds, and above all, using sports as a platform for individual agendas.

Let us look at the highest sports organisation in the country – the Olympic Council of Malaysia who will have their biennial elections tomorrow. When nominations came, it already invited controversy with the likes of former Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim nominated by the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) to challenge incumbent president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar.(Above)

Then, we had Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad nominated to stand against another incumbent, deputy president Datuk Dr M. Jegathesan.

It is a democratic process and anyone can be nominated. However, in the case of Shahidan, he is already the president of the Malaysian AAU (MAAU), Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM), Kabaddi Association of Malaysia, Petanque Federation of Malaysia (PFM) and the Perlis Football Association.

The right thing for Shahidan(right) to have done, if he was seriously interested in the OCM’s top post would have been to resign from all the associations he heads and go for broke at the OCM elections. That way, his sincerity in wanting to serve OCM would have been underlined. Right now, he wants to have the cake and eat it too. If he loses in the OCM elections, life goes on as usual as he will continue to helm the associations. But if he wins in the OCM, he will have to resign from the associations, as it will definitely be a conflict of interest. Shahidan’s desire to helm sports associations has been the debate in the past and is nothing new.

As for Ibrahim, he has the credentials and experience, but to go up against Jegathesan,(below) who is the only Olympian in the Council and who not only has the experience and international recognition, but has done a decent job, looks like there is a hidden agenda. Refer to SS Dhaliwal’s Malaysian Sports blog to read what Ibrahim and Jegathesan have to say about the election. Q&A

What has happened to sports to be led by sportsmen? (Refer to this)

Talking about controversies, when the deadline of nominations ended on May 20, the first salvo was fired when the list of nominations was not released by OCM. And this is nothing new either. Refer to this story.

Hope good sense prevails among the 34 national sports associations who will cast their vote to decide the line-up to lead the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) for the next two years.

May the best and those with sports and the nation at heart rule!

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