Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sports icon Hamzah passes away

FORMER AFC and OCM president Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah, 88, passed away at 3.30pm today.

Hamzah also held the Sports Minister’s portfolio during an illustrious career that led him to the hallowed hallways of FIFA and IOC.

Born in Pekan on Jan 5, 1924, Hamzah studied at MCKK before completing his studies at London’s Gray’s Inn (1953).  In 1967, he entered the world of politics. He was elected MP for Raub and was subsequently appointed Deputy Home Minister (1967-1969).

His star shone brightly and he went on to assume various positions in the Cabinet until he decided to call it a day in 1980.

He was Minister of Information (1969-71), Minister of Culture Youth and Sports (1971-73), Minister of Defence (1973-74), Minister of Commerce and Industry (1974-78) and finally Minister of Law (Menteri Undang2 dan Peguam Negara) (1978-80).

During his stint as Sports Minister, Malaysia qualified for the Olympics football competition for the very first time. It was a historic moment for Malaysia which is still talked about to this day.

The 1972 Munich Games was the only time Malaysia actually played in the Olympics.  Although we qualified for the 1980 Moscow Games, Malaysia joined the US-led boycott and missed the Games.

Hamzah’s stint as Sports Minister certainly created a huge impact on him as he later continued to serve sports in various capacities and different organisations. He was OCM president from 1976 and was an IOC member from 1978. He was a senior vice-president in the Olympic Council of Asia in 1982 and was also the president of the SEA Games Federation in 1977. He was also the FA of Malaysia president from 1984 to 1988.

Hamzah will probably best be remembered by the Asian football fraternity for his tenure as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president from 1978 to 1994. He was FIFA vice-president from 1982 to 1990. He was involved in several World Cup committees, including in 1978, 1982 and 1986.

On the local front, apart from his posts in FAM and OCM, Hamzah was also president of the Malaysian Cricket Association and the Malaysian Taekwando Association. He was also the vice-president of the Commonwealth Games Federation and played a part in bring the Games to Malaysia in 1998.

Through his passion, dedication and untiring efforts in world sports, Hamzah brought honour and glory to the country. His dynamic leadership in many ways helped pave the way for other Malaysian officials to get involved in world sports.

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