Monday, April 7, 2008

The Malay Mail and I Part Deux

"You tak faham erti perjuangan di sini," bentak Haniff Hadi.

Dia bos No 2 Berita Harian ketika itu. Very powerful. Datuk Ahmad Nazri Abdullah's right hand man.

I made it a point to read his column Mesin Taip Buruk those days. He began his short and concise column with Alkisahnya.

"Kenapa you nak tinggalkan Berita Harian? You nak masuk paper kecik buat apa? Kita ada plan untuk you Rizal, sebab tu kita tarik you dari sports desk. Sports desk tu skop kecik."

"Saya nak buat sukan, Encik Haniff. Saya rasa Malay Mail boleh jadi tiket kepada saya untuk meninggalkan kesan dan juga platform bagi saya ke peringkat antarabangsa. Saya nak buat networking antarabangsa," I told him.

But after given an earful for almost 45 minutes, I virtually gave up any hope of rekindling my sports journalism career at MM.

"I tak tau, you boleh jumpa Datuk Nazri. Kalau dia tak lepas you stay dekat news desk!" was Haniff's strong message to me.

Although my late Ayah preferred me to stay at BH, he was supportive of my decision to do what I like. He knew I was always inclined towards sports for Ayah and Emak were the ones who sowed the seeds of my interest by buying me books particularly on football whenever they travelled to the Old Continent.

My first book was the History of the European Cup 1955-1980, co-authored by John Motson and John Rowlinson. It was heavy stuff for a 10-year old but it captured my imagination. I was hooked.

The book, for me, became a window to the world. A combo of pictures of capturing the moments leading to Kenny Dalglish's only goal in the 1978 final, the Munich disaster in 1958 and the Mitropa Cup, L'Equipe, Gabriel Hanot - ah, it still gives me great pleasure just to reminisce.

I had a bad habit. I used to collect all the magazines and books and spent most of the time in my room, drawing sketches. My favourite past time then was to draw pictures of any footballer in full flow.

Pat Nevin, Trevor Francis, Kevin Keegan, Trevor Brooking, Michel Platini, Kerry Dixon were my sources of inspiration then.

On my artistic tendencies, well let's just say Acis, Sheila Majid's hubby, and I were known as the class artists hahahaha.

Back to my transfer from BH to MM, I worked up the courage to seek Datuk Nazri's approval. Ayah told me to recite a few verses of the Quran, "doa pelembut hati".

With Haniff's lecture still taxing my brains, I knocked on Datuk Nazri's door, knowing that if he said No, I would be condemned to a lifetime of covering Umno, Semangat 46 and Parliament. Which was not bad, actually.

Imagine to my surprise, he was very accommodating. "Must be the Quranic verses," I thought to myself.

"Hang nak masuk Malay Mail? Hang boleh tulis English kah?"

"Boleh la sikit-sikit Datuk, lagipun boleh belajar lagi."

"Ha baguih baguih," in his thick Kedah accent.

He signed the letter approving my transfer request. The meeting lasted less than two minutes. I spent a longer time brushing my teeth that morning.

Oh, it came as a huge relief. Now it was up to Datuk Ahmad Talib to slot me into the MM team. It was a mere formality.

After a slight delay, I was on MM's payroll effective as of September 1, 1996, joining a reporting team comprising Johnson Fernandez, Tony Mariadass, Mustapha Kamaruddin, Asmady Ahmad and Fariq Rahman. The head honcho (re: sports editor) then was Chandra Segar Pillai.

My feeling was that I had finally joined the Paper that cares, the paper I grew up with, the paper the Average Ahmad, Ah Chong and Samy can relate to.

To work under Fauzi Omar (later Datuk), the renowned sports critic, WOW. Interestingly I came on board just a few months before the paper turned 100!

Little did I realise joining MM would be hazardous to my health! Shortly after that, I was on MC. For almost a month!


Arnaz said...

You are making it sound like Dallas, when actually, in reality, it was more like Beano...
Carry on...

rizal hashim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Betulke boss sukan MM masa tu, adalah antara sebab-sebab saudara Rizal tidak lagi berkerja dng malay mail hari ini?
Khabar2 angin: si botak tu, yang sekarang ni orang besar nst, ada agenda terhadap saudara rizal?
betul ke? kan dia dan boss baru TF kawan baik?
Tambah je drama cerita hang ni

Hani said...

I was there at that time.
I was Hanif's secretary outside the room, hani.
Landed here tru rocky
Keep it up. It has been long time eh.

Mohd Fadzire said...

Macam cerita pinoy lah bro,...hehehe, cerita hindustan pun ada, like someone used to say to you,..hero menang last sekali.

atinsah said...

salam rizal,
my gosh. lamanya lost contact. what exactly are you doing now?

you don't have to publish this comment if you don't want to ;)


Anonymous said...

salam rizal ..

walaupon engko dah berenti nst ...kalau notebook engko rosak engko hantar je kat tingkat 3..nanti kitorang boleh tolong repair ataupon restore of charge..untuk member aje..tapi kalau macam johny yuen...lagi aku jahanamkan notebook die...

Anonymous said...

Yes I remember when we were in SK St John's 1 Kelas 3 Merah 1979...Acis n u were the artists :) Didn't realise that you got the sports book on football history since 1980...terlanjur tanya do u still keep old comics like beano/dandy/mad? I miss those mags. Ada contact Sheldon? He was the commentator masa World Cup 2006 dulu..we should do a reunionlah bila I balik dari Sabah nanti.

Your ex-classmate SRK St. John 1 & SJI

Anonymous said...

Encik Rizal,

I think besides lot sof reading you also watch too much TV. Like Arnaz said, sounds like Dallas but more like Beano. Ni memang orang sezaman kita. Anyway, why so slow the story, my friend? You mean to say nanti bila dah banyak parts ni, you can compile jadi buku ke?

- Jad -

Enigman said...

Got ur SMS the other day right after my sister (Nurris)informed me that u're leaving MM. A bit sad to see someone like u leaving MM but I'm sure it's for greener pastures..or according to Maslow's theory - self actualisation. The anonymous post earlier abt ex-classmate SJI..that was me. I forgot that I have a blogger account :) Hope to catch up with u later when I'm back in KL visiting my parents.

Kak Mariani said...

Hi Rizal,

I just got to know about your blog from Rocky's Blog (Note: Thanks Rocky - I got to know the blogs of ex-NSTPs through your blog!). Rizal, baru semalam jumpa blog Abang Aziz, today you punya pulak.

I like to baca your column kat MM and since the lastest situation at the MM, I thought it will be hard for me to find your articles. But since now you dah ada blog, I can still continue to enjoy reading what you have got to write on your blog.


Anonymous said...

Kak Mariani??? Is that who I think you are babe???


rizal hashim said...


tq for visiting this blog.

You antara orang yang kami segan because muka serius sentiasa.


rizal hashim said...

Hey atinsah,

what are u up to these days?

i goyang kaki aje

rizal hashim said...

Kak mariani,

remember the days when i used to pass things to you? hahahaha

Anonymous said...

Dear Rizal,
Our eldery are indeed wise
so they say, "Dont judge a book by its cover?"
Sama lah cam hani :)
So anyway, I am now ur regular
Wonder where are you now
(next to goyang kaki?)
But your sport issues?
indeed good and controversial
Kita orang Balai Berita memang suka menda menda kontroversi ek.
Keep writing. U r Gud.

Dawn said...

ONE thing I didn't do was baca doa pelembut hati...Huahuahuahuahua..

Kak Mariani said...


I guess because of the "passing" of things tu le yang buat I kenal you. Rasa macam Spy Mat Bond pulak masa tu, kan?

By the way, Hani.. I think I am the one who you think she is. Eleh! Aku aje yang ingat kat kau! Mentang2 le dah tak duduk kat Congo... Sekarang duduk kat Puncak.. (I am just joking!!!)

Anyway, I am really proud to see that both of you are now into blogging. Me??? Nah! I don't I will ever be able to do it...