SAM no longer wields power and influence among the powers-that-be. According to Suara SAM, the association was inaugurated on Feb 21, 1969. It followed a meeting of 38 sportswriters at the Straits Times office at Jalan Riong. The late Norman Siebel was the founding president. A legend in Malaysian sportswriting, Norman however died on April 23 that year.
Rahim Razali who was a leading television and radio sports commentator, became acting president. G.S Kler was the first secretary and Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah, then the Information Minister, the patron.
Besides Norman, Rahim, Kler and Mansoor Rahman, the other pioneer members present at the meeting were Lee Pek Hoo (Nanyang Siang Pau), R. Jeyanathan (Radio Malaysia), Conrad Ng (Straits Times), Wong Siew Hoon (China Press), Matmor Bachik (Utusan Malaysia), Chang Cheng (Sin Chiew Jit Poh), S.L.E. Maran (Tamil Nesan), Chan Tin Wang, Liew Mok Yoong, Alex Soars, Francis Emmanuel, Rahim Kassim, Tony Francis, Ian Pereira, Peter de Souza, Sajab Siraj, Tony Danker, Ma'arof Mohamed Nor, M.T. Lingham, Ibrahim Ngah (all Straits Times), Abdul Ghani Othman, Khalid Jafri, B. Abdul Ghani, Taufik Kajai (Utusan group), Baharin Tahir, Ronnie Atkinson, Santokh Singh Gill (Radio Malaysia), Harjit Singh, Idris Nordin, K. Chandrashekaran (TV Malaysia), Liew Koon Siong (China Press), Alban Gomes (Bernama), Tan Oou Teck (Nanyang), Ben Variyan (Eastern Sun), R.D. Selva (Straits Echo) and Hari Chand (freelance).
Standing from left: Wong Siew Hoon, Alex Soars, R. Jeyanathan, S.L.E. Maran, Chang Cheng. Seated from left: Mansoor Rahman (assistant secretary), Rahim Razali (president), Conrad Ng (vice-president), Lee Pek Ho (treasurer)
As a kid, I used to read about SAM's activities in the papers. The most glamorous award organised by SAM was the SAM-Benson & Hedges Golden Award. Coverage of the event was huge and the sponsors certainly enjoyed the returns on investment. Much of this was due to the leadership provided by the then Berita Harian sports editor, Zainuddin Bendahara and ably supported by his exco members in the 80s.
Zainuddin Bendahara, fondly called Mr SAM by Sultan of Pahang
Zainuddin's good work was continued by Fauzi Omar, arguably the nation's foremost sportswriter but under his presidency, SAM was accused of being an elitist association without really touching base with the grassroots. The association was split into two much of the 90s. Still there was the SAM awards and SAM-Glamoir World of Sports National Football Awards to be proud of. When Fauzi quit, Zainuddin, given his contribution and reputation, became acting president. But with the grassroots wanting change, the biennial elections became a bitter affair. Secretaries such as Tham Choy Lin, Johnson Fernandez and S.T. Arasu came and go.
From left: Abu Bakar Atan, Mustakim Aminuddin, Shaukei Kahar and loose cannon after the 2000 elections. Loose cannon beat incumbent L. Jaiarajo to win the secretary's post. At the back Yusman Yunus and Bahaman Wariya
Aug 15 is the elections, with the incumbents likely to be challenged by a group that represents the younger generation. A compromise is unlikely. In the event the meeting turns ugly and if the incumbents remain adamant, SAM's reputation and credibility would be shattered. The good work accomplished by its founding members would be smashed to smithereens. And I hate to see that happen. SAM needs to be rescued!