I got honourable mention in Haresh Deol's Power Point in Malay Mail today. Thanks for the pleasant surprise, but allow me to add on a few things, without Haresh's permission of course.
I GREW up reading the Malay Mail. It was one of the three newspapers my late dad bought diligently everyday. What were the other two? My family was fed with a diet of NST, MM and BH.
I remember the sports pages well. There were hard hitting commentaries by Johnson Fernandez in his column Game All and the critical Frenchman-wannabe Rizal Hashim. I'm a true Malaysian who happens to be a Franchophile.
The savy Fariq Rahman came up with juicy Selangor (football) stories while Tony Yee was simply the badminton and aquatics specialist. Mustapha El Loco Kamaruddin is best remembered for his interview with a horse during the 2001 KL Sea Games and continues to excite us with his football stories. Those days we would go for makan-makan in Fariq's car.
Tony Mariadass lived life on the bowling alley. Chan Wai Kong was another interesting bloke whose column ‘Kongster Says’ I truly enjoyed. For all my differences with Tony, I have great respect for his knowledge in football. Kongster kept us in stitches on Sundays. Because of Kongster, the sports desk were made to look really good!
It was only natural for me to answer an advertisement for a spot in the sports desk. I still remember the laidback interview conducted by Johnson and Wai Kong at the old wing in Balai Berita in 2000. Because Malay Mail was desperate for a stringer since the seniors were beginning to work under protest. The desk would have rolled out the red carpet even for someone like Loh Gwo Bourne...
Then came the likes of SS Dhaliwal and Graig Nunis — both with impressive resumes. When these two joined in 2001, the truly all-Malaysian reporting line-up was completed. We had three Malays (labelled TIGA BUDAK MELAYU), one Chinese, one Singh, one Indian, one Serani! You cannot find this kind of line-up anywhere else in Malaysia, not the NST, the Star, BH. Haresh was a stringer so he was out of the equation!
I started covering schools meet and later graduated to national and international events while juggling between my years studying engineering and law. Really, Haresh?
I still remember covering the KL Sea Games alongside these journalists. It was the same time when the 9-11 tragedy struck.
The paper decided to do a wrap around and our sports pages were reduced.
A fellow reporter walked behind Rizal and said “No need to write so much la. Your stories are insignificant.”
It certainly left the journo-turned blogger fuming with anger. Oh yes indeed, and that reporter is now with Malaysianinsider.com
I’ve served three editors — Johnson, Tony M and El Loco since. All I ever dreamt of was to continue the fine work of these professionals. Are you sure?
I could have been a lawyer but I threw that away for the love of writing. Yeah, you could have joined the Bar Council!
Nine years down the road, we’re still harping on the same issues raised by these journalists. Very true.
Malaysian sports and the mentality of their officials have, generally, not progressed at all.
Stadiums are still left unkept. The conditions of the Ministry of Education hockey pitch in Pantai can attest to that. What about the leakages at the newly built million Ringgit Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Kuala Terengganu?
Sports in schools continue to suffer.
Politicians still hog associations just as they did decades before — to gain support at the grassroots.
National associations continue to suffer from funding woes. ‘Decisions’ are made to pay lip service to their political masters.
Football is still in the doldrums as hockey now follows suit. Athletics is no better.
Thankfully badminton and 10-pin bowling are consistent title winners while archery, cycling, lawn bowls and squash have shown encouraging progress.
Should I continue this crusade by highlighting the wrong? Up to you, Haresh! Or you can be chummy-chummy with everybody!
Or should I throw in the towel and get a nine-to-five job instead. Why not?!
Is there any hope in Malaysian sports? I begin to wonder. Wonder-ful!