Saturday, December 30, 2017


This article appeared in the Malay Mail last year:
Memories of Ampang Park by Tony Mariadass
“Ampang Park shopping complex, holds fond memories for me for as a schoolboy, it was my playground.
I had the pleasure of seeing the complex – the first shopping complex in Malaysia – being built and officially opening its doors in 1973.
I was in Form Three then and the very next year, I moved to about fifteen minutes’ walk from the complex, where my late father was the steward for a guest house in Jalan Freeman (now Jalan Ampang Hilir).
While there was a bus which went to Ampang Hilir once every hour, the last bus was at 7pm and if for any reason I missed that bus, I had to get down in front of Ampang Park and walk along Circular Road (later Jalan Pekeliling and now Tun Razak) to reach home.
And sometimes after school in St John Institution, my friend and football teammate Anuar Che Wan, who also stayed at Ampang Hilir, would rush after school at 1.20pm to catch the 1.30pm bus and many a time missed it.
So we took the bus to Ampang Park and walked home. It happened more often than not and we would end up at the Complex to get some cool air and do some window shopping besides looking at the ‘scenes’ or what we used to call ‘cuci mata’, before heading home.
We were students and did not have money to spend at the complex. Occasionally we would have saved money to get an ice-cream at the ice-cream parlour on the ground floor.
The Fitzpatrick’s supermarket on the ground floor was another favourite place of ours we would look at the grocery displayed and occasionally bought a bun or sweet before we headed home.
On weekends, Ampang Complex would be our playground in the mornings and evenings, we would be playing football in our neighbourhood.
During the weekends, we would cycle to the complex and would chain our bicycles at the back and many a time had problems with the security guards who refused to allow us to leave our bicycles at bays meant for motorcycles.
Once in a while we would watch a movie at the complex.
Traffic then was a breeze then and it was just two single roads in front of Ampang Park. Only on weekends, the traffic got heavier as almost the whole town converged to the complex which was a hit then.
I and my friend Anuar and with a few more friends from the neighbourhood had spent many hours combing the four-storey building.
Another favourite spot of ours was the playground on the rooftop where the dodgem bumper cars was our favourite. Again it was only in rare occasions we had enough money to ride on it. But we spent hours just watching the ‘rich kids’ having fun for hours.
Having been hooked to Ampang Park and wanting to come to the complex as a ‘real patron’ I decided to organise a farewell do for my classmates of 1975 after our final Malaysian Certificate of Education (MCE) paper in November.
We managed to get about ten of us interested and each had to fork out about RM20 (which was big money then) for a night out at the rooftop Beer Garden.
It was our first taste of beer for most of us and we arrived early to enjoy the ‘Happy Hour ‘prices.
It was a night to remember as we stayed late, listened to the resident band and stayed over at a friend’s father shop house along Jalan Silang.
Till today, we talk about it and will definitely be the main topic as about 20 classmates of mine meet next Friday for 40 year reunion with some of our teachers too.
After leaving school and doing my form six in St John’s, but through night classes under the Further Education Classes (FEC), I had to look for a job to pay for my school fees.
As it happened I found a job as a despatch clerk with the Austrian Trade Commission which was located on Persiaran Hampshire, which was five minutes away from Ampang Park.
I worked there for a year and spend more time in Ampang Park, this time with a salary, I could buy clothings, shop at the supermarket and visit the many outlets.
Come Christmas, I bought all my gifts from the complex.
Ampang Park had a wide range offers in Malay fashion, every day shopping needs like textiles, shoes and handbags, groceries, toiletries and household products, as well as banking, post office, travel, and currency exchange services. It had photographic stores with the latest cameras and accessories, beauty and hair salons offering a range of attractive styles and spa services to suit every budget.
It was also a food-haven with renowned food and beverage outlets, serving delicious local and international cuisine. It was a one-stop outlet.
How can I forget the MacDonalds where I spent many hours.
But sadly after moving out of the area, I had hardly revisited it, especially with so many complexes springing up.
But each time I pass Ampang Park, memories will come flooding back, especially how I grew up there as a schoolboy and teenager.
With news that the iconic Ampang Park mall will be demolished for the planned underground Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station, is indeed sad.
Memories will be erased or will only be remembered as memories without the building standing there to remind the good times for those who grew up with it.
Can it be saved for nostalgic reasons? Unlikely as more often than not in the name of development many historical and iconic sites have had to make way.
Whatever happens, Ampang Park will be etched in my memory for as long as I live.”

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Malaysian sports never fails to amazes. They make baffling decisions and their explanations is even more baffling. They never seem to come out clean. Decisions are their prerogative but make the right decisions without agendas or pressure.

Friday, December 15, 2017



 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.