FORMER national player and coach Chow Kwai Lam passed away at Ampang Puteri Hospital today at 11am. He would have turned 76 on Aug 26.
May his soul rest in peace.
As a tribute to Kwai Lam who was close to me having known him since the late 70s, I post this article I wrote on him four years ago as tribute to him.
I last spoke to him last month when he called to wish me 'happy birthday'. I was supposed to have visited him and had planned with a few friends to do so this week. Sad that it did not materialise.
You will be dearly missed Chow Kwai!
Late Chow Kwai Lam with Royal Selangor Club's Patrick Keh, who has also passed on, at UKRC Soccer 9s dinner in 2010
THIS PIECE APPEARED IN THE MALAY MAIL FOUR YEARS AGO UNDER THE ICON COLUMN
Icons from the Past – Chow Kwai Lam
By TONY MARIADASS
Kwai Lam still walking tall
A dark episode at the tail end of Chow Kwai Lam’s illustrious career as a player and coach has not made him any lesser man than he richly deserves.
Kwai Lam, who turns 72 on Aug 26, (would have turned 76 next month) has always been known as a par excellence midfielder and a firebrand coach, who attained many notable results.
In 2007, Kwai Lam was fined S$50,000 (RM114,000) by the District Court in Singapore in default four months' jail for attempted bribery involving a Singapore League (S-League) match two years earlier. Kwai Lam paid the fine.
He was charged with corruptly offering a sum of S$200 (RM455) to S$300 (RM684) and a further unspecified amount of cash to Zulkifli Zainolabidin who was the first choice goalkeeper of the Paya Lebar Punggol club, where he was coaching.
“It was indeed an episode which came about through sheer negligence,” said Kwai Lam recalling the incident.
“It was a clear case of misunderstanding where I was testing the player, but my fault was that I had not reported about it to anyone.
“I had just asked the player if he would ‘sell’ a game for S$200, as I was doing my own investigations. The player said no, I left the matter as it was.
“But after I had left the club, there was some investigations and this player had made a report and I was hauled in.
“Yes, I was charged, but I stand innocent and my conscience is clear.
“I did not make an appeal on the advice of my lawyer and besides I had already spent RM200,000 for legal fees.
“Singapore was bent to make some examples that they were doing everything possible to curb match-fixing and I became a victim.
“Although sad over the whole episode, I hold no grudges against anyone.
“All that mattered to me was that people who knew me and who mattered to me, knew that I was innocent. I had nothing to prove after all the years I have served football.”
Kwai Lam said the episode was behind him.
“I still can travel freely in and out of Singapore and nothing has changed.
“I have always strived for the best in what I do as a player and coach and have many memorable moments.
“As a player, I used to score many goals and won many tournaments.
“As a coach, I have done equally well both as a local and national coach.”
Kwai Lam has the credit of having won the Malaysia Cup medal thrice with Selangor as a player and six times (thrice with Selangor and thrice with Kuala Lumpur) as a coach.
His most memorable being as coach of the KL team who went to win the Malaysia Cup three times in-a-row from 1987-1989 besides winning the League Cup (1988), Charity Shield (1988 and 1989)
“I think that record is going to be a difficult feat for any coach to beat,” said Kwai Lam proudly.
Kwai Lam hails from Negri Sembilan and played for the state team from 1961 to 1965 and was a member of the national youth team which competed in the Asian youth championship in 1961 and 1962.
His early coach was none other than Datuk Peter Velappan who coached the Negri Sembilan combined schools team.
Kwai Lam made his debut with the national team in 1965 when he played against England’s Southampton FC and went on to don national colours till 1971.
One of his proudest moment as a player was when he was selected for the Asian All-Star team in 1968 to play against Arsenal.
Kwai Lam also has a proud runners-up medal from the 1st Asian Champion Club championship in 1967 losing to Israel.
Kwai Lam owes his equally successful coaching career to FA of Malaysia for selecting him, Abdul Rahman Ibrahim and Mohamad Bakar to attend a Diploma Grade a course from the German Football Association in Hennef in1978 after having attained his advanced and A licence from FAM the year earlier.
“In the coaching course in Heneff, I was the top student and it was really inspirational in shaping my coaching career. I also have to thank former national coach Karl Weigang for his assistance,” said Kwai Lam who was the German coach’ understudy from 1976 to 1977.
Kwai Lam also had the opportunity learn from the best when he was on attachment with Club Borussia Monchenhlabach in Germany in 1978 under Udo Lattek and Jupp Hencyekes for a month.
Kwai Lam as a coach was known for firebrand attitude.
“I was just a strict and disciplined coach. I stand no nonsense and treat everyone equally. There is no favourites in my team. Even if he was the top player, but shirks, he pays the price,” said Kwai Lam.
“Many saw me as a fierce coach, but I think that is because of personality where I stand no nonsense.”
Kwai Lam paid tribute to former KLFA Tan Sri Elyas Omar who transformed the KL team from minnows to champions over a short period in the 80s.
“He was a visionary man and I am happy to have worked under him and tasted the success which he designed,” said Kwai Lam.
“Another man who helped transform KL is former World Cup coach Dr Josef Venglos. I am indeed honoured to have worked under him and learnt a great deal.”
Kwai Lam said he is sad to see KL football’s state today and only can hope that it will recover to taste its success of the 80s.
Down but not out
Kwai Lam suffered a stroke two years ago, where his left side was affected.
But being the go-getter he is, he has made remarkable recovery and keeps himself fit by going to the gym regimentally without fail six times a week at the Selangor Chinese Recreation Club (SCRC).
“I may not actively involved in football these days, but it is close to my heart and always keep in touch,” said Kwai Lam who drives everywhere he goes.
“I have a daughter who is a lawyer and a son who is an accountant and am just happy being close to my family these days. I have had an active football live and have no regrets. I just reminisce all the good times and all the achievements attained.”
Other teams coached in M-League: Police and Sarawak.
Handled the national team in 1978 to the King’s Cup victory in Thailand and third place in the Merdeka tournament.
Malaysian Olympic team chief coach from 1990 to 1991
Coached in Singapore in 2002 - Tampines Rover FC and Paya Lebar Punggol FC in 2005.
FAM coaching instructor from 1978-1984.
Malaysia Cup winner as player with Selangor – 1968, 1971 and 1972
FAM Cup champion in 1967 and runnersup in 1968
Coached Cheq Point to FAM Cup champion 1985