Saturday, December 13, 2014

Media icons inducted to OCM Hall of Fame


 Last man standing Ian

By Tony Mariadasss

The Malaysian sports fraternity has gone through many phases over the years, but one man who can testify each phase is sports journalist extraordinaire Ian Pereira.

Ian is the last man standing in the sports print media who has served with passion and pride for more than 45 years since the 60s era.

Till today, Ian who is 73 is fit as a fiddle and would put to shame many younger sports journalists, is still employed with the Malay Mail. He swims every day without fail.

He today remains an elder statesman of Malaysian sports journalism, with regular insights into sports personalities of the 1960s and beyond via the sports pages of the Malay Mail.
Ian brings to his reporting the precision, patience and sporting shrewdness and human understanding which are the stamp of his work, but history, research and humanity remain his love.

Ian built a career in journalism, starting out as a rookie reporter with the Straits Times in Kuala Lumpur in April (? Year please) under the editorship of Norman Siebel whom he considered the best of the lot he worked under. He always wanted to be all that Mr Siebel was.

So what has kept him going all these years?

I kept to journalism because it was the second best thing I enjoyed doing other than my first which was engineering. I wanted to be an engineer, but that was not to be,” said Ian who will be among the pioneer members of the print and electronic media to be inducted into the Olympic Council of Malaysia Hall of Fame tonight.

Frankie D’Cruz, Emeritus Editor of Malay Mail and who grew up reading sports reports written by Ian had this to say: “Hallmark journalist Ian Pereira could very easily amaze you with the sharpness of his journalistic insight. He is the definite professional, someone blessed as he inevitably will be with a lifetime spent totally immersed in journalism.

Twice-honoured national Sportswriter of the Year in 1973 and 1983, Ian is a humble hero, a team player who has never capitalised on his celebrity even as the current crop of journalists wax lyrical about his inimitable art of thoughtful writing.

“With ferocious work ethics, Ian remains a fine example of courage and tenacity to inspire his present colleagues at Malay Mail to display professional detachment and reserve while reporting.

 “Sport needs a robust stable of talented journalists whose job is to get below the surface and under the skin of those who ruin the character of the human spirit. Ian is still there for them.

“It's risky journalism but carries a higher value and Ian has been the light of young sports journalists wishing to make the most of their careers.

Working with Ian is a gift, an inspiration, and a special thrill. He tells young sportswriters: “Make history, or lose and be history”.

In recent years, Ian whose desirable trait of human understanding is imposing has stamped a credible mark on remembering the dearly departed, including sportsmen and officials, in his regular column in Malay Mail ‘A Life Remembered’.

His love for 'human interest' stories and his great art, born out of his generous natural sympathies, was to get people to talk about their lives without reserve or artifice.

My first lesson in sports journalism as a stringer with the Malay Mail in 1978 was given by Ian.

I still clearly remember how much interest he took in me and went through each article I wrote with a fine tooth comb and not every encounter was pleasant.

He would tear me apart for mistakes on tables and taught me how it done. Till today, whenever I have tabulate a table, Ian’s face appears before me.

He was a strict teacher. Critical most of time. But that is Ian for you. He is a stickler for perfection.

Till today, he still remains the same telling the younger reporters off when they spell names wrongly, get their facts wrong or hand in slip-shot work.

The only difference is that Ian is now seen as the ‘grumpy old man’ by Gen-Y journalists. But what they fail to realise is that he is just practicing what journalism was at its height and the high standards that were achieved.
But nothing will stop the hard-core sports journalist Ian is. He still plods on.

 Away from work, Ian is a delight to have around especially at parties.
Having spent his time picking his guitar during his free time, he will be ever-ready to render the beat of country music and songs which in turn has rubbed on to his three children, Lyn-John, Jo-Ann and Dwight.

The song most associated with Ian was Johnny Horton's North to Alaska, which he sang well playing the guitar since his early teenage years.

Ian also remembers birthdays of friends and relatives at home and abroad and sends them greeting cards and notes of encouragement and words of wisdom.

In one such birthday greetings, he sent a card to Bill Clinton after he read both volumes of the president's memoirs - the Early Years and the Presidential years - and made comments on them in the card.

In response President Clinton sent him a short sweet note concluding: "It means a lot to me that you have taken such a personal interest in my work.
"I deeply appreciate your warm words of support.
"All the best to you, Ian." Signed - Bill Clinton.

Ian received similar letters of appreciation from Singapore President Wee Kim Wee and American Country music legend Johnny Cash.

Still, Ian's old fashioned charm and ways contrasted strikingly with an enthusiastic boyishness which never left him.

He believes that difference in people are important and makes life more interesting, but our common humanity mattered more to him.

His words of wisdom to the younger generation of journalists: “Like in any other profession, utmost dedication matters most. I gave it my all. You give the world your best and the best will come back to you. It's also 99 per cent perspiration and one per cent inspiration. I also had a fair share of scoops and worked under some great men.”

Congratulations Ian. You truly deserve to be inducted into the OCM Hall of Fame and have done the sports journalism fraternity proud. We salute you Ian!


OCM honours the voices of sports

Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) for their 60th anniversary have decided to give them long overdue recognition and honour sports journalists and commentators.

In conjunction of OCM’s Annual Dinner and Awards tonight (Saturday) which will held at the Tan Sri Hamzah Arena at Wisma OCM which will be graced by the hourable youth and sports minister, Khairy Jamaluddin,  five sports journalists and three commentators will be inducted into the Hall of Fame for the very first time.

The International Olympic Council (IOC) Women & Sport Achievement Diploma, OCM Women & Sport Awards and IOC trophy will also be awarded tonight.

Four of the journalists will be inducted posthumously and these writers were household names during their era.

“We have decided to induct sports journalists and commentators among sportsmen, sportswomen and sports administrators because they have played an equal role in the development of sports, highlighting the sportsmen and women, giving coverage to events and even spotting talent,” said OCM secretary-general Datuk Sieh Kok Chi.

“Those who are inducted certainly are icons of sports for without them, sports would not have flourished to what it is today.

“Be it their coverage of events, their comments even if it is critical, their observations as an independent person, their recommendations and above all promoting the athletes has shaped what sports is do.

“The media both print and electronic play a very important especially in modern times when wide coverage is given to sports. But in past when sports coverage limited, it is these personalities who are inducted today that gave the much needed publicity.

“Their writings and commentaries were much valued and have set benchmarks for the younger generations of sportswriters and commentators to follow, which is indeed a hard act to follow.”

Indeed, those inducted are considered “gurus’ to the sports journalism fraternity.
Many of the current sports media personnel may even know or even heard of the many being inducted, but rest assured these names will definitely ring a bell to the older generation of athletes, sports officials and sports followers alike.

Heading the list is the late Norman Hope Leslie Siebel one of Malaysia's finest sports journalist of his era. He wrote with passion and authority with deep understanding of the game.

He wrote from the dirt tracks of the Kampong Pandan sports complex to the Olympic heights of Mexico City which was the last of many Olympic Games he covered for the Straits Times and later the New Straits Times.

Norman Siebel as he was more popularly known was sports writer, sports and columnist.

Besides the daily reporting, Norman had a weekly highly acclaimed commentary column titled Sportsfront which ran for years.

The high esteem with which Norman was held was reflected in the fact that FAM's founding president Tunku Abdul Rahman always wanted Norman present before starting the association's annual general meeting. 

“I was present once when delegates stood up at the FAM House along Birch Road when Tunku walked in, but before taking the chair, he turned and asked secretary late Datuk Kwok Kin Keng if Norman was present. No, said Datuk Kwok. "Then call him, we'll wait for him," said the Tunku,’ recalled rookie reporter than Ian Pereira. 

Another legendary sports journalist inducted today is the late Mansoor Rahman.

Mansoor Rahman migrated to Malaysia from Sri Lanka in 1963 to begin a career as sports reporter with the Straits Times and later The News Straits Times in Kuala Lumpur.

Soft-spoken and unassuming in character, Mansoor generally covered all sports with a sense of authority leading to his becoming Sports Editor some 12 years later.

Mansoor passed away when he collapsed while playing social tennis in 1997 aged 58.

Also to be inducted is the late Francis Emmanuel who is synonymous with sports.

He was a fond figure in the Malaysian world of sports journalism.

His genius lay in drumming up a thread of wit and humour through a dull day's play.

Then perhaps he repaid editors who allowed him a degree of licence for some ripe gossip from the beer tent.

All said and done, Francis was aloud, lusty, likable guy who won many front-paged scoops and always had two olives in every glass of Martini he held.

In his low baritone voice, he often sang Blueberry Hill in the likeness of Fats Domino, much to the cheers of his piers.

He even befriended World heavyweight boxing champion Mohammad Ali as no other Malaysian reporter did. He followed Ali on his early morning workouts in preparation for his World Heavyweight title fight against Britain's Joe Bugner at Merdeka Stadium on in June 1975.

When a foreign reporter asked Ali if his next fight was to be in Manila, Philippines, Ali asked the reporter for the source of his information. The reporter told Ali that it was Francis Emmanuel to which Ali replied: "If Francis told you that, then it must be true."

From the Bahasa Malaysia sports journalism, the late Zainuddin Bendahara has been honoured to be inducted to night too.

Zainuddin joined the English newspaper The New Straits Times Press (M) Berhad in 1962.

Zainuddin did well to ascend the Sports Editor's chair of Berita Harian at a time when Malaysian sport enjoyed some of its finest moments.

 A general news reporter and later as entertainment writer for Berita Harian he was promoted as the Sports Editor of Berita Harian from 1978 till 1990.

He left the NST group at Balai Berita to join the national news agency
Bernama in corporate news. At the same time he was Editor for Nusantara Publishers as well.

He later joined the subs desk in general news for Bernama until his retirement.

Zainuddin was elected as the President of Sportswriters Association of Malayisa (SAM) from 1980 till 1990. He was again picked to head SAM one term 1998-2000.

He passed away in 2007.

From the sports commentating world Datuk Abdul Rahim Mohamed Razali or popularly known as Rahim Razali is legend who is regarded as the ‘voice of Malaysian sports’.

He is rightly inducted to the Hall of Fame as an icon for the younger generation of broadcasters to emulate.

The 75-year-old Batu Gajah commentator who still commentates started
As a temporary broadcasting assistant Grade 3 in the Malay Service of Radio Malaya in 1958.

Since his interest was in sports since schooldays, he was asked to try his hand at sports commentating for Radio. Thus began his career as sports commentator/presenter.  He was sent to Bangkok to cover the inaugural SEAP Games for Radio Malaya in 1959.

His career as a TV Sports commentator/presenter spanned over a period of more than 40 years, starting in 1965. During that period he had covered five Olympic Games, six Asian Games, four Commonwealth Games, numerous SEA Games, five World Cup Football Finals, four World Cup Hockey Finals, numerous Thomas Cup finals (Beginning 1967), Merdeka Football Tournaments, Malaysia Cup Tournaments, and various other championships and tournaments involving a variety of sports, including the live commentary for the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship between Muhamad Ali and Joe Bugner in KL in 1975.
Apart from his involvement in sports as Commentator/Presenter for TV and Radio, he was also past president of the Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM). And apart from a career in the corporate sector, he also established himself as an award-winning Director, writer, producer and actor in the country's Film, TV and Theatre industries. 

Amran Hamid is another broadcasting icon being inducted today.
Born on 7 December 1940, he joined Radio Malaysia in 1963 as broadcasting assistant, the year TV Malaysia was launched in the country.

It was a case of a hobby turning into vocation. Amran was a keen radio listener as well a follower of sports. He was at the right place at the right time. Radio Malaysia was extending its broadcasting hours in the 60s. Sports had a great following. It was natural for Amran to be the early sports commentator when he joined RTM. He later became team leader for the broadcasting coverages taking him all over the country.
At that time TV Malaysia was looking for experienced commentator for its sporting coverages. Amran fit in well as his official duty was mainly office hours and the TV coverages were mainly in the evening. He was better known as a TV personality then.
This saw him travel to many countries hosting big sporting events. He was the commentator at the Olympics in Montreal Canada 1976, Football World Cup Buenos Aires 1978, The Commonwealth Games in Chrischurch, New Zealand 1974, The Hockey World Cup in Holland 1973, Kuala Lumpur 1975 and Bombay 1977 and many more international and national events including the Asian Games and the SEA Games.
Amran was also active in the Malaysian Sportswriters Association (SAM) being its Deputy President under the late Zainuddin Bendahara for two terms in the 80's bringing it out of the doldrums to its present status.

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