Monday, October 20, 2003

Goodbye Harun, we will miss you (The Sunday Mail)

THE passing of former Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Harun Idris yesterday
at his home in Taman Duta sees him leave behind a legacy in sports,
especially soccer in Selangor.
He is survived by his wife Datin Salmah Sulaiman, children Mazlan,
Ramlan, Azman, Rozina, Rozita, Shafika, 18 grandchildren, four great
grandchildren and a host of relatives.
Harun, who turned 79 on July 21, will remain an icon in Malaysian
soccer. He was a people's man to the general public but to the soccer
fraternity, he was a Godfather.
He inspired professionalism among the Selangor players in the 1960s and
Those days, when players played for the love of the game and earned
minimum wages, Harun would go out of his way to find funds to give the
players extra cash.
The players loved Harun who was a down-to-earth man who always had time
to listen to them. When they played, it was not just for Selangor but also
for Harun.
It was common to see him at playing fields in Kampung Baru where the
official MB's residence was despite his hectic schedule.
It was during one of these stops he spotted a stocky, well-built boy,
whom he took under his wings.
That player was none other than the late Datuk Mokhtar Dahari - who
became a legend in Malaysia and Asia.
Although he was the man who discovered Mokhtar, Harun refused to include
him in the 1972 Olympic team despite the insistence of FAM as he felt
Mokhtar was not ready.
When Mokhtar passed away in 1991, Harun said his omission made Mokhtar a
better player because, the striker might have got swollen headed and not
realised his true potential.
Harun, who was an FA of Selangor president in the 1960s, also helmed the
Selangor Malays Football Association and was a FAM council member.
He was manager of the national team on numerous occasions and chef-de-
mission to the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Besides soccer, Harun was president of the Malaysian Professional
Golfers Association and was also responsible for bringing in 1975, the
Muhammad Ali-Joe Bugner world heavyweight boxing fight to Merdeka Stadium.
Harun was also a biker into his 60s. He even travelled to outstation
matches on his motorcycle besides being a regular sight at the Merdeka
Stadium with his leather jacket and helmet.
Among the honours he won was the 1995 SAM Benson & Hedges Award for
He said then: "Despite being away for more than 20 years, I'm glad there
are people who never forget my services. I feel honoured and proud. I
never expected to win."
However, he was disappointed that the athletes of today, were different
than those from his time.
"Those days, athletes - especially soccer players - loved the game. But
now it's all about money," he said.
"We lack people who can motivate athletes to play with pride. Instead,
they are promised rewards if they do well."
Harun was from the old school of sports but saw results achieved. He may
be gone but his memories will live forever.