...holding court at the Mandarin Oriental business centre...
...and jotting down notes
I was told he was ready to pack his bags and return as a mere backbencher following Pak Lah's handing over the country's leadership to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak but Istana Pahang apparently intervened, believing that Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek had done a darn good job at the Information Ministry.
The fact Shabery chose to meet the sports editors and the print media first before the other stakeholders spoke volumes of his wilingness to engage the media on a positive note.
On his appointment:
"Now I have to start reading the papers from the back pages, it needs some adjusting for someone who has been reading the papers from Pg 1 onwards all this while."
On the meeting:
"I chose not to use the governmental platform to dispense with the formalities, and please do not be offended if from time to time I wish to meet the media in smaller groups. I know journalists love scoops."
"I used to write for Karangkraf and later Watan, and from there someone thought I would make a good politician.
Between youth and sports:
"Youth will be my priority and through sports we can develop the youth. It is the perfect tool."
"By going to the gym rakyat at Kampung Pandan on Saturday. I think we still lack the culture of going to the gym to maintain our fitness and build our muscles. But I have to find ways of hiding this spare tyre (referring to his waistline).
Reforms in sports:
"I would want your support if we were to impose radical and drastic changes to the system.
Sports a way of life:
"Sports teaches us the meaning of life and integrity, the need to be disciplined and determined. It helps shape our psyche and physique. I would divide sports into three main categories.
3. Sports as an industry - in 1997 Britain decided to include sports as part of its creative industry to create wealth. Doctors, lawyers and accountants were no longer the icons who earned big money as the they shifted towards broadening the base for sportsman and entertainers. That's why we have David Beckham being exported to the US for a princely sum of US$200 million.
Infrastructure or content-driven?
"We have to decide, if facilities be provided to all kampungs and schools, then it will create business opportunities for a select group. Or we focus our energy on content-wise or developing the software which will broaden the base of talent at grassroots.
"It's too exam-oriented, illustrated by the fact we are perhaps the only country in the world where results of major examinations are announced by the Minister. We may have to consider making sports as a subject in the primary school and sports colleges, In the US, one earns credit points for playing golf.
The highly critical media:
"Please continue to be critical because it stirs the rakyat's interests.
Issues and controversies:
It's a question of finding a solution or pushing for reforms.
Politicians in sports:
"Can you guarantee better results at all levels if there is no politician involved at various levels?
I only raised two points to Shabery.
2. The role of the Cabinet Committee on Sports Development, whether the delivery system ought to be improved and why 15 Ministries cannot be on the same page.
Somehow I was surprised notorious duo Citizen Nades/Terence Fernandez, who contributed largely to Azalina's downfall, were not there...