STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART
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.