Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In Grandad's footsteps

Nazifuddin to continue his grandfather’s legacy

By Tony Mariadass

Mohd Nazifuddin Datuk Seri Mohd Najib, the youngest vice-president to be elected into the Olympic Council of Malaysia yesterday, is set to live up to legacy of his grandfather – the late Tun Abdul Razak Tun Hussein, the fourth president of the body.
Abdul Razak was the OCM president from 1969 to 1976.
The 32-year young entrepreneur who comes from a family with two prime ministers, was nominated for the elections by the Malaysian Taekwondo Association of which he is deputy president.
“I thank the delegates for showing confidence and voting me in. It is now time for me to perform and assist OCM in moving forward to greater heights,” said Nazifuddin.
“My grandfather was responsible for laying the foundation of OCM to become what it is today and I have a hard act to follow.
“But I am determined to keep the legacy of my grandfather glowing.”
Nazifuddin in his to minute address to the delegates was articulate and impressed the delegates with his aim and vision.
“National associations have always been burdened with financial woes and I hope to assist them to put them in better standings,” said Nazifuddin who specialise in business management coordination and organising internal operations.
“But I am not talking about handouts. I intend to do programmes where all national associations are involved in a fund raising campaign.
“It has to be a collective effort to help themselves.
“At OCM I hope to use my expertise to further improve their financial standings with good management of their funds,” said Nazifuddin who entered the corporate scene at the age of 26.
Nazifuddin emphasised that the newly elected officer bearers must be resourceful as a team to meet the high standing demands of OCM.
“Internationally OCM is well recognised body but we can always to better to our enhance image especially in the upcoming 2017 Sea Games.”
As an aspiring young, Nazifuddin had not forgotten his responsibility for his fellow youth members.  He set up the Youth on Unity (Y.O.U), a non-profit organisation to develop focus on opportunities for all youth in urban and suburban areas to embark on youth development programmes.
Nazifuddin, a product the Nottingham University, was responsible for organising sports carnival for Malaysian students studying in various universities in England. 

Zaiyadi & the mechanics of Nada Akustika

By Tony Mariadass

Motorcar mechanic Zaiyadi Ismail’s dream of forming a family band was not just a dream but a reality, when he formed Nada Akustika from zero in six months.
Nada Akustika formed in 2012 comprises his six children – Diana Adzeanty (23 years-old), Muhamad Dini (19), Muhammad Danial (17), Muhammad Ammar (14), Nurkhairunnisa (13), Muhammad Amer (six) and neighbour Zakhwan Haqem (16)
The band from Kampar, Klang, who started off playing at schools and weddings and for free, have now about 250 performances under their belt over the last three years.
The band started off with the five sibblings before Haqem was recruited, while Amer is still learning to play as the second violinist of the band, but sits in the band during performance to be exposed to the environment.
“I saw an English movie (can’t remember the name) in the 90s where this family had their children perform as a band each time visitors came to their home. I was really fascinated by this and wished that one day that with my when I family, I could do the same,” recalled Zaiyadi on his desire to form a family band.

“Diana had completed her Form Five examinations and I was driving home one day with her and asked her what she wanted to do, now that she had finished her studies. She said she was not sure.
“I then suggested to her that she takes up music and with the rest of the children and we can form a band. She was excited and when we reached home, she told about my idea to her siblings. They were equally excited. That was the humble beginning of Nada Akustika.”
Diana said when her father popped the idea of forming a band, she was excited as she was the glamorous kind.
“I liked to make-up and look glamorous. The idea of performing in a band, thus thrilled me to bits,” said Diana the vocalist of the band who specialises in classical and contemporary singing.
Zaiyadi said that his only association to music was that he loves to listen to bands at outlets and records.
“I don’t read music or play any instruments. I am just a mechanic who loves music and used to watch bands perform.”
Zaiyadi, 45, got his children to attend music lessons but insisted that each one play a different instrument.
“Diana wanted to be the vocalist so I sent her for voice training, while I had the rest, Dini to play double bass, Danial (guitar), Ammar (cello), Nurkhairunnisa (violin), while Amer is the last member to the band but he is still learning to play the violin and sits in the band for experience,” said Zaiyadi who runs his own workshop from his home.
“We needed a percussionist and recruited Zakhwan who stays in our neighborhood who played the percussions in the school band.”
Zaiyadi said he spent RM80,000 to set up the band and a bulk of it went to his children’s music lessons.
“I spent about slightly more than RM10,000 for equipment and PA system and rest went to the children’s classes to play their respective instrument and Diana’s vocal lessons.
“When we first started to play as a band, our music was all over the place. But were determined to make it work and practiced harder. We did not go to a studio, but used our home hall as our practice area. And we still practice in the hall.
“We have Zhuraini Jihat a former UITM lecturer and a friend of mine who assists the band’s music arrangement.”
Asked if the neighbours complained when they practiced, he simply smiled and replied: “They have come to like our music and they not only support us, but look forward to our practice sessions as their nightly entertainment,” said Zaiyadi who stays at Taman Setiajaya in Kampong Tok Muda.
The band practices everyday except Tuesday which is an off day and on days when they perform, usually on Saturdays or Sundays.
Diana said it was not easy at first.
“Although we were all excited about forming a band, but training to sing or play an instrument required discipline and total concentration. While it was enjoyable at the beginning, there were times when it really got tough and we even thought of giving up. But dad kept encouraging us to be strong to realise our goal,” said Diana speaking on behalf of her siblings.
“Our mum (Norhayati) too was very supportive towards us and kept encouraging us to stay focused. She is our number one fan and never misses our performances,” said  Diana who sings in six languages – Malay, English, Spanish, Hindustan, Mandarin and Japanese.
Soon after six months of hard work, Zaiyadi decided that they were ready for their first public performance and performed at Sek Ren Tok Muda for the retirement function of the senior assistant of the school and performed for free.
Their second performance was at a restaurant – Restaurant Nasi Lemak Kampar – close to their home.
Zaiyadi said that their performance was met with approval for first timers on both occasions.
“Our first paid performance was at the Ikan Bakar restaurant in Port Kelang where we were paid RM500,” said Zaiyadi who doubles up as the manager of the band.
Today the band gets paid anything between RM 500 and RM3,500 for functions ranging from wedding to corporate function.
Nada Akustika also has cut a single titled Warna Cinta and are working on their second album with Radhi O.A.G (Mohd Radhi Razali) from Sarawak who is an actor, singer and composer.
The band’s biggest performance till date was at the 4th World Youth Jazz Festival 2015 at Jalan Mesui in April organised by the Jazz Community Malaysia.
Their latest performance big performance was at the Downtown Kuala Lumpur Music Community’s last appearance at Sambal & Sauce in Nu Sentral on the first Sunday of this month. Dressed up in their turquoise Baju Melayu as it was a Raya performance, they had their audience on their feet with their vibrant performance.
Playing twelve songs, Diana was an instant hit with her rendition of Zombie (Cranberries), Solider of Fortune (Deep Purple), Selamat Hari Raya (Rahimah Rahim), Pelangi Petang (Sudriman Arshad) and Suasana Hari Raya (Anuar Zain and Ellina) to name a few, while the band members mesmerised the audience with their talent and composed performance.  
“It is the aim of the band to go international to promote Malaysia and our music,” said Diana.
“We hope to achieve this target by the end of the year to get an overseas stint or work with Tourism Malaysia to promote Malaysia through our music.
“But we can only do it during the school holidays as four of my children and Zakhwan are still schooling.”
On a personal note, Diana hopes to become a star in the industry in the future and emulate the likes of Yuna (Yunalis Mat Zara’ai – singer and songwriter)
Asked how they manage their time between school, homework and music, Ammar replied: “It is tough. But we love what we are doing so we plan our day well and give equal importance to both our studies and music.”
Nurkhairunnisa attained 5 As for her UPSR examinations and speaks volume for their emphasis on studies.
Nurkhairunnisa was also selected to be among the 131 member orchestra to represent Selangor at the National Music Camp in 2014, while Ammar has been selected to join the orchestra this year.
Although Zaiyadi has achieved his dreams and is a proud father, he believes that the band can climb to further heights and intends to do whatever possible to see them realise their true potential.

Dashing Nash - big, strong and towering


By Tony Mariadass

 Datuk Nashatar Singh Sidhu a late discovery in sports, his involvement in rugby, athletics and golf were all by chance.
But there was no looking back for Nashatar who turned 76 on Wednesday (Aug 19) who proved that with little knowledge of the sport, even a late starter can make the grade if one had the passion, discipline and goal to become the best.
The former police officer, excelled in athletics to the highest level – competing in two Olympics (1964 Tokyo and 1968 Mexico), while in rugby he represented the nation.
In golf, which he picked up at his later age, he had a 12-handicap despite just playing socially.
Nash, as he his popularly known, was born in Punjab and after coming to Malaya with his father Modan Singh, he was brought up in Ipoh.
“My involvement in sports was all by accident and chance. I was not playing any sports until I was in Form Four in Anderson School,” said Nash who was the third generation who served the Police Force after his father and grandfather.
“It was the headmaster of Anderson School, a Welshman, Dr G.E.D. Lewis, who had come to my class as a relief English teacher one day. At the end of the class, he asked every student in the class what sports were we involved.
“When it came to my turn, I told him I was not involved in any sports activities. Looking at me standing a towering 6’3, he told me to report to the rugby team in the evening.
“I told him I had to cycle 14 kilometres from my home to come to school and to come back again in the evening would be difficult. He simply told me that if I can cycle to school daily, I can surely cycle back again for sports.
“So that evening I came back to school for my first training session of rugby without a clue of the rules of the game.
“Lewis who was coaching the team, just told me to tackle a tackle a player. I did on four different players and everyone one of them was floored,” recalled Nash and let out his boisterous laughter.
“I was in the school team and when I said I did not the rules, I was just told to pass the ball behind,” said Nash who played as a lock-forward.
The rest was history as Nash went to play for the Perak state team which comprised mainly of Europeans and then the Perak All Blues team which only comprised of locals and went to win the All Blues title beating Singapore in the final at the Merdeka Stadium in 1957.
He soon earned the title ‘King of the lineout’.
He then went to play for Selangor, Police and the national team which he captained from 1957 to 1961 before injury forced him to retire from competitive rugby.
Nash’s involvement in athletics was equally interesting when he was asked to represent his school house (Sultan) in the inter-class athletics meet to win points.
“I ran the hurdles, did the high jump, triple jump and also took part in shot putt and javelin too.
“It was in javelin that I did well when I threw far.
“I was asked to represent the school, schools state team and then the state.
“I was an instant hit in javelin, although with any proper coaching or technique. There were times when I suffered from tennis elbow because of using the wrong technique.”
Nash said it was only in 1962 at Malaysian Open athletics championship in Ipoh that he finally managed to get some tips for his javelin throw.
“There were several overseas javelin throwers among them from Australia and Pakistan,” recalled Nash.
“I was really impressed at the way they threw the javelin and even though many of them were not as well built as I am, they managed better distances.
“The Pakistan thrower, Mohd Newaz, matched the European throwers and I decided I will seek his advice,” said Nash who did not do well in the event.
“Newaz obliged to give me some tips provided I took him for dinner. So I did and Newaz explained to be about steps, timing and the art to throw.
“With this information I practiced hard and was improving.”
At his debut Asian Games in Bangkok 1966, he won the gold medal while Newaz finished fourth. He achieved the feat with a new record of 72.92m.
“It was most memorable moment because I had come to the Games as a nobody and won the gold,” said Nash proudly who went to win the bronze medal at the 1970 Games.
Nash won six gold medals at the Sea Games (1963 to 1975), finished fourth at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Jamaica besides dominating the national championship.
He also competed in shot putt won gold at the 1967 and 1969 Sea Games.
He won the silver medal at the first Asian Track and Field championship in 1973.
Nash also has the honour of being the national contingent's flag-bearer for 10 straight years which included three Sea Games (1967, 1969, 1971) and Asian Games (1970) besides other events.
“Those days we did not have coaches or much assistance for the associations. We had train on our own and get as much information on the techniques of excelling in the sports through reading or from other experienced athletes. We also had to train on our own,” lamented Nash.
“I remember when Jegathesan (Tan Sri M. Jegathesan), R. Subramaniam and myself were sent for training and competition to Russia and Germany as preparation for the 1968 Olympics. We were given a token some of money and were supposed to manage.
“We did not have any team officials and the three of made all arrangements for internal travel, accommodation, training grounds, entering ourselves for competition and cooked our own food as food was expensive.
“We did well and had no complaints at all. 
“These days the athletes have everything provided for from A to Z and yet they still cannot perform or have complaints.”
Nash said that he was lucky that his rugby and athletics season did not clash and we managed to compete in both.
“But more importantly, my rugby training and competition served as a conditioning for my athletics. And rugby also built my character to be an extrovert. The esprit de corps in the sport was the key factor in shaping me.”
Nash advised that athletes competing in individual sports, should also compete in a team sports to bring the best out of them.
As for golf, he picked it up at the Police Training Centre where he was the adjutant in 1972.
“A senior officer Jerry Toft was hitting the ball at the Pulapol ground and invited me to try and hit. In my first hit, I broke his club,” laughed Nash.
“I not only bought him a club, but decided to try the game,” said Nash who was involved in the building of the PDRM Titiwangsa Golf Club.
“I won the first two competition I competed after being given a 22 handicap, I managed to drop to 12, before I had to leave for Germany for a training course,” said Nash who only plays social golf these days.
Nash’s dedication to sports is unquestionable that he even neglected his family - his wife Parkash Kaur four children – Harminder Singh, Amreet Kaur, Manjeet Kaur and late Nakesh Singh.
“I used to spend most of my time on the field or office as athlete, sports official, coach or police officer,” said Nash with a tinge of sadness.
“I am not complaining from what I have achieved as an athlete, a sports officials, coach or police officer. But I just wished I had spent more time with my family,” said Nash who started work as a court interpreter for two and half years in Ipoh before joining the Police Force as a probationary inspector in 1962.
He retired with rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner and held the post of Deputy Director of Internal Security and Public Order.
His most bitter moment was when his son Nakesh passed away in 1987 after a short illness.
But Nash took it has fate and carried on with life and even after his athletics career as an athlete, he continued to contribute as a coach and official.
He was first the Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU) vice-president and then coaching chairman from 1978 to 1993.
Nash was also involved for the 1998 Commonwealth Games hosted by Malaysia as the Director of Operations.
These days besides him going occasionally to the driving range and playing social gold, he spends most of his time with his grandchildren.
But Nash who was inducted to the Olympic Council of Malaysia Hall of Fame in 2004 has certainly made his mark as a rugby player, athlete, police officer, sports administrator and coach – indeed a difficult act to emulate.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Malaysian sports at crossroads


Where are the sports administrators who are supposed to chart the course of Malaysian sports and lead sportsmen and women with utmost integrity and professionalism?
Recent developments on the local sports scene when it comes to election time have been less than healthy and are giving sports a bad name.
How will athletes have faith in their administrators if these people resort to mud-slinging and discrediting each other just to win votes?
Arguing at meetings in the rowdiest manner, disrupting proceedings and staging walkouts, discrediting reputable officials and bringing sports associations to disrepute, and even challenging the results of elections – all in an attempt to wrest power – herald a cloudy future for sports in this country.
Now everybody seems to be an expert and even those who have no background in sports or a track record are aiming for high positions at the national sports associations.
Of late, we have seen disputes at the Malaysian Billiard and Snooker Federation, Taekwondo Malaysia, Malaysian Athletics Federation, Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress and now at the mother of all associations in the country – the Olympic Council of Malaysia – who will be holding their annual general assembly (AGA) tomorrow morning.
Granted, elections in sports must be a democratic process but when underhanded tactics, backbiting and money politics are employed, the whole things turns ugly.
Mutual respect and adherence to rules and regulations have gone out the window. Fair play, which is a pillar of sports, has been blatantly disregarded.
The three core values of the Olympic Movement, which inspire us on an individual and organisational level, are:
Excellence: This value stands for giving one's best, on the field of play or in the professional arena. It is not only about winning, but also about participating, making progress against personal goals, striving to be and to do our best in our daily lives and benefiting from the healthy combination of a strong body, mind and will.
Friendship: This value encourages us to consider sport as a tool for mutual understanding among individuals and people from all over the world. The Olympic Games inspire humanity to overcome political, economic, gender, racial or religious differences and forge friendships in spite of those differences.
Respect: This value incorporates respect for oneself, one's body, for others, for the rules and regulations, for sport and the environment. Related to sport, respect stands for fair play and for the fight against doping and any other unethical behaviour.
But when officials choose to ignore all these principles and promote themselves with ulterior motives, the last thing on their minds is the welfare of athletes and the promotion of sports.
Can Malaysian sports be saved from going in the wrong direction? It all depends on the wisdom of the officials and their desire to keep sports sane.
They cannot be blinded by promises that are unrealistic and pick election candidates simply because they are associates. Instead, they should look for people who are experienced, dedicated and tenacious.
Already, despite being praised by the International Olympic Council (IOC) on their hosting of a recent session, OCM’s image has been tarnished by one of its high ranking officials who has been suspended from all Olympic Council of Asia’s events and activities with immediate effect for his depredatory comments made on a group chat which was visible to IOC members.
We certainly cannot be seen to have irresponsible officials leading our sports associations.
Without doubt, a lot of work needs to be done to save Malaysian sports but it has to be a concerted effort with one goal, one direction and one vision.
It is hoped then that the delegates at the elections tomorrow will vote wisely because the future of Malaysian sports is at stake. They need to be led by respectable and level-headed officials who want to hold office for the sake of sports.

TONY MARIADASS is a sports
journalist with more than
three decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at
Twitter: @tmariadass​

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Yang at heart, rich in experience

ICON: Richard Yang Siow Meng

By Tony Mariadass

Olympian hockey player, Richard Yang Siow Meng is soft-spoken, works from the background, shuns publicity, is modest and humble, has contributed to the hockey immensely.
He nearly died two months ago and it would have been sad if he had passed on without the due recognition bestowed on him not only for his prowess as a player and coach but for the foundation he has laid for Malaysian hockey.
Yang who turned 69 on July 1, was floored by a freak bicycle accident in May where he hurt his knee, which turned septic and eventually saw him contract pneumonia which went to affect his heart.
He was hospitalised for almost two months, but has finally recovered and slowly getting back to his feet.
At his home, Yang recalled his fateful day when he was getting on to his bicycle to go for his round of cycling around his neigbourhood.
“I lost my balance and fell down. I had some bruises on my knee and after I had cleaned it up, I went for my cycling,” recalled Yang.
“It was after five days that my left knee swelled up badly and was painful. I decided to go to hospital and immediately I was admitted, as the bruise had turned septic.
“They syringed tubes of pus and I was diagnosed for pneumonia and my heart too was weak. It was an agonising period and the doctor told me it was life threatening and was lucky I survived.
“I am glad that I am finally cleared and on the road to recovery,” said Yang who had on Tuesday gone for his final follow-up checkup at the hospital who after series of tests gave him the clean bill.
It is hoped that, now that Yang has survived the life threatening illness, he will be accorded the recognition he truly deserves.
Yang who played in the 1968 Mexico City and 1972 Munich Olympics could have made his debut for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 as a schoolboy, but he had withdrawn from the squad because of his Form Five examination year.
Yang who hails from Malacca, known for the many hockey players it has produced, went to the country’s second oldest school - Malacca High School (MHS) 1826 - the second oldest educational institution after Penang Free School (founded in 1817).
The school is noted for producing top sportsmen, who went on to make the national teams at athletics, cricket, fencing, football, archery and even bodybuilding and taekwondo, but hockey remain the preferred choice.
Beginning in the 50s, when Malaya first competed at hockey at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, the late Bakar Said set the game’s playing credentials list into motion with the late Chua Boon Huat, the latest of a scroll of national hockey talents nurtured at MHS.
MHS’ other notable double hockey Olympians beside Yang, include Koh Hock Seng (1964 Tokyo and 1968 Mexico City) and Lim Chiow Chuan (1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta).
The other MHS produced talents that donned national colours include Benny Soon Seng, Goh Tiong Hui, Haricharan Singh, Ismail Ali, M.Selvanathan, M.P.Haridas, Micheal Goh Doh Jin, Tam Chiew Seng, Tham Kong Onn, Tham Yeow Kong and Teoh Choo Beng.
But Yang etched a record in alma mater which will be hard to match – as Sportsman of the Year for five consecutive years.
Yang besides hockey, represented the school in cricket, football and athletics.
The all-rounder represented Malacca in both hockey and cricket.
Yang made the Malacca state team for the Razak Cup tournament as a schoolboy.
“I owe by sports background to principal C.T. Wade ((1962-1965) and hockey master P. Poonendarajah, (a popular MHS hockey master from 1955 to 1968 and then again from 1972 to 1987), who emphasised on sport and were dedicated to sports,” said Yang paying tribute to them.
Yang was indeed a true sportsman for when he was in University Malaya (1967-1970) doing his bachelor of science, he as accorded the University Blues award.
The right-inside earned his first national call-up to play for the national B team for an international match against Singapore as a Form Four student.
His first full international was for the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok where Malaysia finished fourth.
In 1969, he was named the Hockey Player of the Year by Malaysian Hockey Federation.
He was back at the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok too, where Malaysia finished fourth again. He was also selected for the Asian All-Stars team after the Games.
It was in Bangkok, he met his wife, Thong Nyok Seen – the daughter of former Olympic Council of Malaysia general secretary, the late Thong Poh Yen.
“She was with her father for the Games when I met her. We got married in 1972 after my stint in Munich for the Olympic Games,” said Yang who quit playing after that.
He returned to the game to coach Malacca in the Razak Cup tournament in 1981 to steer them to become champion for two years, before he left to England to do his Masters, where he was for three years.
When he returned he again coached Malacca to their third Razak Cup title in 1985.
Yang dedicated his life to hockey and despite his job as a teacher at Kajang High School and later at Victoria Institution and then as a lecturer at the Specialist Teachers Training College (STTI) in Cheras, he still made time for coaching.
In 1981, Yang was transferred to the Ministry of Education where he was involved in with the teachers’ education division before being seconded to the National Sports Council (NSC) in 1991, He was later loaned to the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF).
He was already involved with the coaching programme for the Junior World Cup team from 1987 to 1989 before his work with MHF assisting in their coaching setup.
In 1996, Yang did not renew his contract with NSC and became the Director of Coaching with MHF.
He was responsible of the setting up of the coaching system in the country and travelled the length and breadth of the country conducting courses.
The cream of the current Malaysian coaches is the product of Yang’s programmes and not to mention all the grassroots and club coaches.
Among the top coaches who have emerged include Stephe Van Huizen, Wallace Tan, Colin sta Maria, Zulikifli Abbas, Kevin Nunis, Lim Chiow Chan, Yayha Atan and V. Sasidharan.
Asked about the current standard of coaching and game, Yang simply said: “It has come to a standstill.
“There is plenty which can be done for the coaches who have tremendous potential. They only need to be exposed to more international matches and trends. Sending them for refresher courses and attachment will do them world of good.
“We certainly do not need foreign coaches to chart our fortunes. With the exception of Terry Walsh who did well for Malaysia, I personally feel that rest who have come and gone, have not contributed much,” said Yang who is also the protem deputy chairman of the Malaysian Olympians Association (MOA).
Yang after taking his optional retirement from the education ministry in 1998 joined the private sector where he worked as a registrar of a private college, (Kolej  Aman) in Bukit Beruntung.  He was there for about seven years before the company which employed him, Talam Corporation, asked him to take over the Bukit Beruntung Golf & Country Resort, as General Manager.
“It was a great learning experience from hockey to golf management.  But I stayed only for two years after which I retired permanently in 2007,” said Yang who only has one son, Eugene, a businessman who is in his forties and not married.
“I just spend my time with my son and wife these days, catching up on lost time with them because of my involvement in hockey.
“I have no regrets with involvement with hockey, but I just sad that I neglected my family as I spent most of my time on the hockey pitch and classrooms.
“My son is much close to my wife and now although at this late stage, I am trying to spend as much time catching up with my son.”
Indeed Yang has indeed dedicated his life to the sports of hockey and although he has not received any awards and says that he does not look forward to any form of recognition because it was his passion and love for the game that he has been involved and contributed, he certainly deserves to be at the least to be inducted to the Olympic Council of Malaysia Hall of Fame.

Think before you leap


Contest in any elections is welcome as it is democratic.
It is indeed interesting for the first time in the history that all posts are contested for Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) Annual General Assembly (AGA) next Saturday.
But sadly, instead of individuals nominated by respective National Sports Associations (NSAs) based on track record and caliber, many candidates have been campaigning with NSAs to nominate them.
There were certainly some loopholes in the nomination process which ended on Tuesday.
The first was that some NSAs were not concerned or protective of their sport and their rights. They just gave away their nomination rights. Some just signed a blank nomination form and gave it to their friends who then filled in someone who the NSA may not even support.
The second was that several candidates who fell out favour in their own NSAs went from NSAs to  NSAs asking to be nominated.
These officials hardly did much for sports but once nominations started, they were desperate to be nominated.
This brings to the question what is the agenda of these officials?
Are they seeking positions in OCM because Malaysia is hosting the 2017 Sea Games, are eyeing a trip to the Brazil Olympics next year in Rio de Janerio or the big bank account OCM has.
OCM has RM18.5 million in their OCM trust fund.
Above all, it is sad that the battle of sports has come down to camp A and camp B.
This clearly indicates it is battle of supremacy rather than coming forward to serve the sports.
The appointment of delegates deadline is on Monday and here again it will be interesting who are nominated by the NSAs.
Each of the 35 eligible NSAs can name three delegates to vote for a total of 105 votes for each position.
Returning officers lead by Ramesh Candar-Nair, Ng Ping Loong and Teng Mui Hgee will vet through the nominations to ensure that it is in order, especially that it has the authenticated signatories.
There is already some trying to control the appointment of delegates by the NSAs.
The normal process of appointing the delegates rests with the president or secretaries of the respective NSAs where the NSAs have control and the president’s choice prevails.
As to who are the delegates, it is a grey area. While it is the norm to appoint office bearers of the respective NSAs, some NSAs may even appoint outsiders who have nothing to do with the sport and the NSAs.
The objective of course is to control the voting.  This trend is becoming more rampant.
Thus it is important that president or secretary general controls the nomination process to ensure that it is done in the best interest of the respective NSAs.
Now coming to the candidates standing for election, there are those who are still greenhorns in their respective associations, have been ousted from their associations, being nominated by associations whom they have no affiliation to and others who have done little for their own association or support grassroots development programmes like SportsExcel but now seeking posts in OCM.
Then we have to ask if some officials are intending to come onboard OCM with personal agendas like for the business they are involved in?
We also have an official who embarrassed OCM as host of the recent IOC Session when his name was removed from the appreciation list by IOC themselves for depredatory comment on a group chat which was visible to IOC members.
Can we afford to have officials onboard who cannot conduct themselves respectably in the eyes of international sports bodies.
In all fairness, there are officials who have been nominated who are capable and experienced sports administrators who will do well for OCM.
The NSAs will have to be wise on their choice on whom they want to see helm OCM and not blinded by promises made.
It is fine for OCM to assist NSAs, but to give cash grants is certainly not wise.
Already NSAs have been spoilt with cash handouts for programmes by the National Sports Council (NSC), that many associations do not stand on their own feet and just depend on NSC as their sports standards decline.
Is this the kind of sports culture we want to promote and will it help NSAs or make them become more dependent on handouts.
It is better to teach one to fish than to give him a fish.
Above all, officials voted in must have a track record and experience especially with Malaysia hosting the 2017 Sea Games.
The last thing Malaysia need is face embarrassment with rookies at the helm.
Lastly, this is a sports election and we need people who have sports at heart to be elected and have the time to dedicate their services.
This election is certainly not political election based on party allegiance.
OCM is the body for all NSAs and unless it is transparent, helmed by caliber leaders with no agendas and work for the sports, Malaysian sports could well slump further than it already is.
Let us hope the NSAs vote wisely to put the right people to lead and manage OCM. It will be futile to cry over spilt milk.
But in the end, it will be the choice of NSAs and it has be respected and hopefully whoever gets elected, work for sports and not themselves.
All the very best to all the candidates.

TONY MARIADASS is a sports
journalist with more than
three decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at
Twitter: @tmariadass​​

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Datuk Sieh Kok Chi no holds barred interview

Q&A with Datuk Sieh Kok Chi (two part series)

Olympic Council of Malaysia Incumbent secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi, who has been at the helm since 1992 in a two-part question and answer interview with Mailsports TONY MARIADASS speaks with no holds barred on the current situation leading up to the Annual General meeting next month.
The 75 year-old former engineer at Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) and former national water polo star competed in the  SEAP Games in 1965 in Kuala Lumpur, 1967 (Bangkok) and 1969 in Rangoon, Burma and won silver medals in all three.
The former student of Victoria Institution and the first generation to the of Universiti Malaya (UM) product competed in Asian Games in 1970, the last tournament before retiring at the age of 32 years.
He then the secretary Selangor Amateur Swimming Association from 1971 to 1974 before becoming secretary of the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) in 1975 to 1982.
After that, Kok Chi spent the past 10 years 'working' on a voluntary basis at the Olympic Council of Malaysia with a lot of help to do the work with OCM secretary at the time, Thong Poh Nyen.
In 1992, Kok Chi was elected to fill the seat secretary of OCM, replacing Poh Nyen.
Kok Chi retired as a civil servant in 1990 with his last position as Director of Coastal Engineering.

Mailsport: The upcoming OCM elections is seen as one which will see a keen battle for posts as opposed to the previous elections which have been regarded as tame. What are your views?

Datuk Sieh Kok Chi: The last couple of elections of OCM office bearers have been keen too.  The coming one is keener as the few individuals who failed to have their ‘personal agenda’ fulfilled are going all out to oust office bearers who have spent years building up OCM to where it is today. These individuals have no track record of successful developing sport or with any national sports.

MS: Is there a conflict within OCM which has resulted for such a heated election?

DSKC: The conflict came into being with a few individuals trying to take over the OCM by proposing unsound and unjustified programmes to be outsourced to private companies without any detail evaluation.  These companies who were selected themselves have no proven track records and experience in sports development.
In addition these individuals are not prepared to know more and understand the work culture of OCM and its main roles and responsibilities.  They failed to see the structure of OCM and wanted to make changes for their own agenda, without knowing much about the background and how OCM should work for the development of the NSAs.   

MS: Is it true that there are persons in the current OCM line-up trying to oust you? What is your stand on this?

DSKC: Yes, this is true.  My stand is that there is really no necessity to oust me, because I am not stopping or obstructing anyone who wishes to contribute to OCM from doing so.  In addition, I am not holding a post that I ousted someone. I became the honorary secretary of OCM only after my predecessor, the late Mr. Thong Poh Nyen, decided to retire and requested me to stand for election to succeed him.  I am in fact an asset to OCM, as I do not draw a single sen from OCM, while my actual contributions have immense value and benefits to OCM, the National Sports Associations and to Malaysia.  
I remember very clearly the days when OCM was known as a ‘Post Office’, just waiting for funds from the government, before any teams could be sent to participate in the various Games.  Today, the situation has changed and OCM advances all the expenses to participate in Games and is only reimbursed by the government after the Games have ended.  Should we not be proud that OCM which is now financially stable and strong?  All this took over 30 years of care and hard work to build, not for me but for future generations of Malaysian athletes. 
Maybe the office bearers who are trying to oust me see me as a threat to their ‘self-interest’ in OCM as the coffer is now standing with millions of ringgit.  I dare to speak the truth and be honest and direct.  Those who stand corrected are not happy.  

MS: Why has such animosity come about in an organisation which is regarded as the supreme body of sports in the country and supposed to be leaders for the sports associations?

DSKC: The only reason I can think of is that these people are envious of me because they cannot measure to my contributions to OCM, the National Sports Associations and to Malaysia. What they do not realise is that what I do is not at the expense of anyone.  In fact I am a team player and I share whatever benefits with my colleagues.  I work hard genuinely for the progress of sports for the NSAs and for those sports leaders who know me, know that I am always there for them.  I am a ‘doer’ and not a ‘talker’.   When I can do, I will do. When I cannot do, I will not do. I do not say do and do not do or ask others to do.

MS: Is there line-up already in place for the coming elections?

DSKC: As far as I am concerned, there is no necessity for a so-called line-up.   The truth will prevail and the members can see for themselves who can work and contribute and who can talk but cannot work and contribute anything. We welcome people who really want to contribute and can work together for the progress of OCM and not continuous bicker over small things.  It had been problematic with fault finders and nothing profitable coming out them.

MS: How do you see the future of OCM with this unhealthy trend of power craze among sports officials instead wanting to serve the sports?

DSKC: If this unhealthy trend were to continue and intensify, I can see the destruction of OCM.   Generally in my opinion, people who are ‘power crazy’ cannot serve because they want to be served and be recognised as sports leaders, when no such recognition is necessary.  When other generous and volunteering people work well, they are threatened and lies are spread, because they cannot reach that high level so they think of some negativity to put those people down.
The situation has deteriorated so bad that some people will try to attack me in anyway and every way.  As my track record in sport is so good, that there is nothing for them to attack me, they have to spread lies that my former Department said that I perform my duty poorly as an engineer, when I was working there, 25 years ago.  How desperate can some people be?


Datuk Sieh Kok Chi continues his answers and questions to Mailsports TONY MARIADASS in a no holds barred interview on the upcoming Olympic Council of Malaysia annual general meeting and elections next month.

MS: Do you think it is about time more ex-sportsmen and women come forward to offer their services to OCM?

DSKC: If they do come forward, do they stand a chance against the veteran sports officials, many who want to cling to their posts?
Of course it would be ideal if more ex-sportsmen and women come forward to serve OCM and their sports organisations.  In fact OCM always have given priority to retired sportsmen and women to hold office in OCM and their respective NSAs.  For the record, some of the ex-sportsmen and women are Datuk Dr. P. S. Nathan (World champion bowler and admistrator), Tan Sri Datuk Dr. M. Jegathesan (Olympian and Asian Games gold medallists),  Tunku Tan Sri Imran ibni Almarhum Tuanku Ja’afar (National Squash player and cricketer), Datik Paduka Mumtaz Jaafar (athletics), Datuk Low Beng Choo (Netball, Softball) to name a few.
As for having a chance, the ex-sportsmen and women should first hold office at their clubs or state levels and then slowly move up. In my case, I served at club level in the 60s, then moved to state in 1971 and national swimming association from 1974 to 1982, before being elected to my present position in November 1992.
The accusation that office bearers are clinging on to their positions is not quite true.  How can they cling on when they are elected.  We must give credit to an association if they continue to re-elect their office bearers for a period of time.  No one has really provided the true reason.  Is it because they are good and productive or is it because they bought the votes?  General statements like an office bearer clinging on are unfair.  There have been quite a number of changes in some NSAs and frankly the improvements, if any, are difficult to be evaluated, let alone seen.
The main weakness in Malaysian sports is not because of office bearers over-staying.  It is due to the weakness of the Malaysian sports structure. Much has been written and discussed but nothing has really been done to improve the sports structure.  Datuk Seri Azman Ujang, former Editor-in-Chief of Bernama has presented a paper on “Is Malaysia a Successful Sporting Nation?” to OCM on 23rd November 2013, where he had identified some of the weaknesses and proposed some changes, such as strengthening the State Sports Associations, who are the hearts and souls of the National Sports Associations.

MS: Many have criticised you that you have overstayed in office? Do you think so? Do you think there is still more you can contribute and when do you think you will decide to call it quits?

DSKC: While some say that I have overstayed, there are many more who ask me to stay on to serve them.  Of course I can still contribute and if I cannot do so, I shall be first to give up.  Physically and mentally I am fit. I can still go trekking over 10 km today and present a high quality technical paper on sport the next day. I wonder whether my critics can do the same.  I will not accept age as the only consideration in assessing the capabilities of a person.  Intellectual and physical capabilities as well as productivity should also be considered.
The NSAs realise that my most valued contributions to OCM and Malaysian sports is my knowledge, experience and have the time to do work for OCM for free. I spent hours reading and evaluating reports, submitting comments, contributing ideas and checking on data and statistics and writing reports and papers.  Thus my contribution to sport is not at the expense of anyone, but is really additional and complementary to what others are not doing.
Take for example the recent Singapore 28th SEA Games. I think I am one of the very few persons who read each and every one of the Technical Handbooks of the 36 sports and sent 10 pages of comments, pointing out some of the discrepancies and errors to the Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee.
In the selection of the Malaysian Contingent of the Singapore 28th SEA Games, I personally went through in detail the results and performances of the athletes of a large number of sports to ensure that there was fairness in the selection of the athletes. Frankly, I was taking a risk as some of my rivals would try to make the National Sports Associations (NSAs) angry with me by saying that I was interfering in their business. Fortunately, the NSAs have faith and trust in me because they knew that I was not doing it for myself but for the good of the Malaysian Contingent. Who would have done this thankless job? At the end of the day, for me, it was worth it as a few of the athletes who were selected after my detail study, won medals in Singapore.
For your information, I have been doing such work quietly for decades, as I have special interests on the athletes’ welfare and progress.  You may recall how heavily involved I was with Nurul Huda Abdullah from 1983 to 1990, when she won a total of 23 gold medals in the 1985, 1987 and 1989 SEA Games. There are many more such success stories, which will take too much time to record.
My only motivation is to share my knowledge, experience and time with fellow Malaysians, so that Malaysian sports can move to the next level. I have and am not depriving or obstructing any Malaysian, young or senior from contributing their time and efforts to improving Malaysian sports.  Many state and national sports organisations are crying out for assistance and contributions. They are suffering from lack of capacity and resources, why not volunteer to assist and help them.  There are so many empty seats around, why must they push me out of the seat I am on, when I am prepared to share with everyone.   

MS: Your last words on the coming elections.

DSKC: The election of who can and will best serve the members, the National Sports Associations (NSAs), the athletes and Malaysian sports, rests within the powers of the 35 NSAs, who are the Ordinary Members of OCM.  It is not a popularity contest but one based on the track record, experience, knowledge, commitment, dedication, integrity, etc.
OCM is passing through a very difficult and challenging phase.  I am not exaggerating that whether OCM is going to become stronger or be slowly destroyed will depend on who the members are going to elect to serve them this August. Do they want office bearers to work for and to serve them or do they want office bearers who claim to be the NSAs’ ‘bosses’ and that attending meetings overseas is the most important duty for them.
Often, success brings instability and misunderstanding.  The 35 Ordinary members of OCM must ensure that they elect the right office bearers to serve them and to contribute to the development of OCM, the NSAs and sports.   Not so much supporting those who promise the sky just to get the vote and after getting the vote, claim that they are OCM and have the right to do anything they want. 

MS: Thank you very much Datuk for your honest views on the current situation and all the best for the coming elections.