My ex-boss Tony Mariadass was not amused upon getting a call from a journo asking details about Datuk Paul Murugasu's passing. Read here. Today's generation of journos, not all I must qualify, does not do enough legwork.
Murugasu served as general secretary of the FA of Malaysia (FAM) from 1980 to 1985. He had a big pair of shoes to fill in as his immediate predecessor, Datuk Kwok Kin Keng, occupied the seat for almost three decades.
Synonymous with Malaysian football since 1951, Kwok, a keeper and a cricketer with VI, was forced to step down after having survived three heart attacks in 11 years. He died of kidney failure 10 days before his 73rd birthday in 1980. One of his most satisfying achievements was the building of the six-storey FAM building at Jalan Birch which was opened by Tunku Abdul Rahman on December 7, 1961. On succeeding him, Murugasu said: "Taking over from Datuk Kwok, a man whose achievements will certainly be difficult to match, presents a tremendous challenge for me.
"I've been fortunate to have worked with Datuk Kwok for more than 10 years and this certainly has given me invaluable experience on how to continue the good work for Malaysian soccer."
Murugasu was teaching at the Government trade school in Kajang when he was roped in by S.C.E Singam, another teacher known as Bola Singam, into the FA of Selangor (FAS) as assistant secretary.
Along with the likes of ex-referee and headmaster of Kluang High School, Koe Ewe Teik, Negeri Sembilan businessman Lim Kee Siong, Perak's Datuk Teoh Chye Hin and teacher-turned-sports official at the Sports Ministry, Datuk Peter Velappan, Murugasu formed a strong backbone behind the scenes. Later on the likes of Datuk Abu Bakar Daud, Datuk Syed Ahmad Kuning and R. Ramalingam joined the footballing elite who became part of the decision-making process.
Murugasu's successor as FAS secretary, S. Anthonysamy, remembers Murugasu with fondness.
"We were close as I served as FAM council member and member of the competitions committee when Datuk Paul was the secretary. He was a good leader, open and transparent and had a lot of ideas in promoting the game," said Anthonysamy who served under four FAS presidents.
Datuk Dell Akbar Khan who succeeded Datuk Paul Mony Samuel as FAM general secretary from 2000 to 2005, said Murugasu was fatherly in his approach.
After handing over the post to Mony, Murugasu remained very much part of the FAM set-up, being a member of the disciplinary committee. By the early 2000s, Murugasu was wheelchair bound but he never failed to fulfill his duty to the last. Read the tributes from Tony and Joe Marcose, here and here.