Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Azalina, Malaysian Today and I, episode 1

As part 1 of a series of entries on this topic, I shall recall the moments when the bosses knew they had a hot potato on their laps when I broke the story of the Sports Ministry's RM500,000 monthly funding for sports weekly Malaysian Today in early 2005.

But the story was buried deep inside in the Sunday Mail edition dated Feb 6, 2005, with additional information to my original copy which I knew was fed by someone else. What made me upset was the fact that the facts added to my story could easily be refuted! By me, of course!

Let the record show that I was the first journalist in this beloved country of ours to question a number of Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said's policies during her tenure as the Sports Minister!

In typical fashion, Azalina's men began to sell the story that I had a personal agenda to pursue. Also at the height of this controversy, someone passed a remark to someone that the Malay Mail had been reduced to practising gutter journalism.

Selamat Hari Pekerja. Ooppss this is just the introduction, preface or foreword lah. Episode 1 coming soon. If I don't get threatening comments, SMSs or phone calls, that is.

ManYoo through

Alamak, Scholes oh Scholes...

His long-range effort was enough to send the Red Devils through to their third European Cup final at the expense of Barcelona early this morning. Not bad for someone who suffered from blurred vision not too long ago.

Scholes has always been known for his thunderbolts. When he was here with the Devils in 2001, his shots during the warm-up session prior to the game were enough to draw gasps from the star-struck fans at the National Stadium.

It's ManYoo's third appearance in the Champions' Cup final and as we are all aware, they won the previous two. For ManYoo haters, the signs are ominous. Sigh.

Also I stand corrected. I had earlier predicted a Barcelona-Liverpool final.

Will I be proven wrong again tomorrow morning?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Malay Mail scoop

Damn good story, this one! I would be wearing a satisfied look if I were the one who broke this story.

Congratulations Haresh Deol and the Malay Mail.

Take a well deserved break and I know our afternoons will never be the same again after May 5.

I heard some senior journalists were not happy to be scooped!

NSC's RM22m bill raises eyebrows


THE National Sports Council (NSC) spent a whopping RM22.4 million for professional services, celebrations and hospitality in 2006, more than four times it had spent in 2003.

In audited reports made exclusively available to The Malay Mail covering 2003 to 2006, the council had spent RM22,335,867 in 2006 compared to the RM5,528,412 in 2003.

RM6.83 million was spent in 2004 and RM13.85 million in 2005. There were other points of contention.

NSC's spending also earned a ticking off from Deputy Auditor-General Datuk Azizah Arshad, who remarked in the 2006 audited report that the council must only spend on projects with approved budgets.

Azizah also reminded the council to be frugal in its spending, citing the example of how it had recorded excessive spending of RM86.55 million under the National Sports Trust Account (Akaun Amanah Sukan Negara) in 2006, despite only having a budget of RM45 million. The account is used for administrative purposes.

She had pointed out that the council had a surplus of RM74.7 million in the same account in 2005.

Sources told The Malay Mail that this had raised the eyebrows of some of the present NSC members who had taken over from their predecessors.

"In just over four years, the spending in this area alone had skyrocketed," said a source.

"This expenditure included entertainment, consultancy and event management."

According to copies of the reports, the council had also recorded inflated spending in three other areas. They were:
# National Sports Awards: In 2003, RM261,102 was spent, compared to RM1,237,342, more than five times that amount, in 2006; and,

# Malaysia Games (Sukma): In 2003, they spent RM11,251 to prepare for the 2004 Sukma Games that cost the council RM282,987. In 2005, it spent RM6,589 to prepare for the following year's games which eventually cost RM3,371,555; and

# For coaching and officials: In 2003, the council had spent RM496,895 but in 2006, the figure went up to RM1,052,170; (see accompanying table for details)

The source said in the case of the National Sports Awards, the jump in expenditure had baffled many as the number of recipients and prize money awarded had remained unchanged over the years.

National shuttler Lee Chong Wei and squash queen Nicol David were the winners of the 2006 National Sports Awards, pocketing RM10,000 each while paralympic athletes Mohd Salam Sidik (archery) and Siow Lee Chan (power lifting) also received RM10,000 each. There were other minor awards that did not pay as much.

"That only accounts for some RM40,000 out of the more than a million spent. Where did the rest go to," asked the source.

The source said in the case of the Sukma Games, questions have been raised on why the NSC had spent in Kedah (2006) more than 10 times than the RM300,000-odd that it did for the Negri Sembilan Sukma (2004).

While some of the money had been spent to renovate and build new facilities, no one has explained what had happened to the RM87 million additional sponsorship secured by the organiser, the Kedah State Sports Council (which is affiliated to the NSC)), said the source.

"This has not even factored in the RM100 entrance fee the individual athletes had to pay. If you go by the average of 5,000 athletes, the organisers would have collected RM500,000. That alone is close to one-sixth the expenditure chalked up by the NSC for the event (through its grant to the Kedah State Sports Council."

The source said participants in the Negri Sembilan Sukma had been charged RM20 each.

And the Kedah Sukma Games did not even organise volleyball, tennis, judo and cricket unlike previous editions!

The Auditor-General's reports bore the signatures of the former Sports Minister, who was also the NSC chairman, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, the then NSC director-general, Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz, and council member Datuk Mohd Yasin Salleh.

Efforts to get Dr Ramlan over the last week proved futile.

A doctor in choppy waters

Dr Kevin Lim, a three-time Olympian, a medical doctor and a true pro. No doubts about that.

But I have an issue with him.

I've covered Dr Kevin twice beyond our waters - the first in the Athens Olympics and the second the Doha Asian Games.

Apart from the formal interviews and the occasional encounters at the internet cafe of the Games Village in Athens, I finally got the chance to engage Dr Kevin positively two years later in Doha.

I did not pull any punches in the interview yet being the educated, open and cultured individual that he is, the good doctor took every question in his stride. A true pro, I thought to myself.

I did ask him a few stinging questions, like what has he got to show after the massive investment in him. He was a recipient of government's scholarship for his medical studies and of course his training as a sailor was bankrolled by the National Sports Council.

In short, what is the ROI (returns on investments)?

I wrote in my review of the Asian Games for the Malay Mail that Kevin was one of the contingent's biggest disappointments.

He arrived on the Gulf shores hoping to end his wait for a title but returned to Sydney empty-handed.

In what was his fifth appearance in the Asian Games, the good doctor was in troubled waters from the very first day when he was adjudged to have jumped the gun in the men's laser category. After three Olympics and five Asian Games, Kevin had only the Asian title in 1999 and the two silvers in the Asian Games (1998 and 2002) to show.

And he wants to continue until Beijing 2008. Good idea?

A few days before the race, I attended his press conference.

I wrote this

LIFE has not been plain sailing for sailor Kevin Lim (pic), particularly
during the past few months.
Fondly known as the doctor, for he's the only qualified physician out
of the 231 Malaysian athletes slated to sample life in Doha for the next
two weeks, Kevin has put his medical career on hold in order to land that
elusive gold in the Asiad.
Twice he finished second to South Korean Kim Ho-kon, in the 1998 Games
in Bangkok and the Busan edition four years ago.
The 30-year old Sydney-based sailor, however, has doubts whether or not
it was the right decision to make.
Too late you say?
Well, not really.
Sure, he is two years away from the Beijing Olympics, which would be a
fitting finale for the Kuala Lumpur lad.
True he has the full support of the National Sports Council (NSC).
Sure he has been honing his skills at various places in Europe of late.
All this, however, has come at the expense of his medical career.
He resigned from the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney to pursue his
hobby, a recreational activity that is also part of the biggest sporting
extravaganza, the Olympics.
It's not only a bread and butter issue for Kevin. A question that needs
to be addressed by the NSC is whether or not Kevin will continue after
Doha to have that final shot at glory in Beijing. Or will he be retiring
for good from this Arabian adventure, perhaps after delivering the gold?
"It's something that I have to decide. I have been enjoying full
support from NSC for this Games but I detect a reluctance on their part
to discuss what comes after this.
"I have several options. I might want to start concentrating on my
medical career. You might look at it from the short-term point of view,
but my plan does not involve going to back to Malaysia in the immediate
"After all I have a girlfriend (Phoebe Stanford) who is also a doctor
at the Prince of Wales hospital. Maybe between eight and 10 years from
today, I might want to go back to Malaysia as a specialist," said Kevin
at the Athletes' Village yesterday.
A gold after a series of races in Doha might just prompt Kevin and the
NSC to go back to the negotiating table.
His prospects in his fifth appearance in the Asiad?
"Nothing less than the gold. Of course I'm anxious but it's all in the
head," said Kevin, adding that he would look forward to renewing rivalry
with Ho-kon.
Ever since his Asiad debut as a 14-year old in the optimist class in
Beijing, Kevin has gone through the mill. And survived a few close calls.
The most recent was the capsize on the French Mediterranean coast. A
strong squall of wind flipped his boat, broke his expensive carbon-fibre
tiller and ripped his sail and Kevin was thrown into the deep end and had
to be rescued.
The wind in Doha is not expected to send the sailors into troubled
The external factors do not seem to trouble Kevin.
In fact, he's enjoying his brief sojourn in the Gulf.
"I'm impressed with the Athletes' Village. Our apartments are fully
equipped, and we have cable TV. That's a first," said Kevin, who has
competed in three Olympics and four Asiads.
In return, it is only natural we expect nothing less than the gold from
the good doctor.

Now Dr Kevin, who has qualified for his fourth Olympics, is unhappy with the Malaysian Yachting Association's decision to conduct another selection process.

This e-mail was from Dr Kevin, which was forwarded to me

I have just got word that MYA and NSC are proposing a selection event in Langkawi in the month of June to select the Olympic representative for Malaysia in the Laser class.

I feel this is a grave injustice and am completely opposed to it because:

1.) MYA did not even register anybody for the last Olympic Qualifying event in Australia this year which indicates to me that they were happy not to send anybody to the Olympics

2.) I contacted the Laser Class association after the close of the registration deadline and had to plead with them to accept my entry, pay for everything on my own and stop work from November 2007 in order to qualify the country without any assistance from NSC nor MYA.

Interestingly, the coach that was sent by MYA for the qualifying event was flown business class to Australia, was accompanied by his whole family to Australia, was paid handsomely and was given money for the sailors entry fee, food, accommodation, travel expenses etc, not a cent of which was given to me.

3.) Since qualifying I have been training full time, sacrificing my professional development as a doctor to represent Malaysia and compete in the European circuit so as to give myself the best chance possible to do well at the Olympics.

4.) The date of the proposed selection event in Malaysia in June will compromise any athletes ability to peak again 2 months later during the Olympics. I already have a full programme from now till the Olympics and having to change them now will jeopardise my preparation.

5.) All the other Malaysian sailors have had ample opportunity to train in Langkawi and become familiar with the conditions there yet I have not ever been invited to join them and have minimal knowledge of the proposed selection venue which will be a tremendous disadvantage.

6.) The proposed selection event will be conducted in a biased environment since the race committee and jury members will be dominated by locals, possibly impartial and not of the calibre of ISAF grade 1 or grade 2 events. There is also the risk that sailors may team up against each other.

7.) NSC and MYA are inherently biased against me since they have not given me any assistance nor sufficient funding since Dec 2006 as they have been doing for the other sailors. The coach that NSC employs has also not given me any assistance while I was in Europe for the last 4 weeks.

8.) Malaysia failed to make the qualifying mark in the 2007 Olympic qualifying event which I did not attend. Since then, no other Malaysian besides me has been actively campaigning for the Olympic Games. Based on the results from 2007 they would not have qualified for the Olympics in 2008 either.

I can only conclude that NSC and MYA have so little faith in their own ability to produce an Olympian in sailing that they have to resort to maliciously stealing the spot that I qualified for independently on merit and try to deprive me of my spot to the Olympic Games.

Qualifying for the Olympics is no easy task - more so when it is self funded and done predominantly as a part time athlete. NSC and MYA should not attempt to rob me of all my sacrifices now when they have not showed any interest in qualifying for the Olympics since July 2007.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Refrain, please Part 2

Dear visitors,

When I posted an entry on the Malay Mail, which I lifted from news portal on the paper becoming a political sheet on April 23, it was done in good faith.

As a former employee of the Malay Mail and an avid reader of the tabloid since childhood, it is only natural that I keep tabs on the progress of the paper.

I must admit the Malay Mail made me what I am today by giving me the space, freedom and opportunity to develop myself as a writer, of which the pinnacle was of course the privilege of covering the Athens Olympic Games in 2004.

However it has come to my attention that the entry has drawn a slew of spiteful comments on certain individuals from anonymous posters.

As a gentle reminder to this blog's visitors, please refrain from posting comments which are very personal in nature. I do not wish my blog to be treated as an avenue for MM-bashing.

The blog author appreciates the feedback and comments but if we were to fully utilise this blog as a platform to express our opinions, please do so in a civilised manner. Be constructive, not destructive. I believe in the freedom of expression but we have to do it in a very responsible way.

Otherwise the blog author will take the liberty of deleting the comments.

The last thing I want to do is to put my friends and ex-colleagues at the Malay Mail in trouble and the staff to be at daggers drawn.

I have the highest respect for the new owner Datuk Ibrahim Mohd Nor, who did not have any qualms in releasing me from the paper after listening to my personal plea, and my ex-colleagues at the sports desk.

My apologies for not posting this earlier.

Thank you.

Shuttlers told to deliver

"Thomas Cup is equally important," so says Sports Minister, Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob, although the country is desperate to scoop a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in August.

I think the Bera MP is spot on.

Cast aside the match-fixing allegations in badminton.

As professionals, the shuttlers will have to bear the pressure of playing in a team event like the Thomas Cup in Jakarta in May, before channelling their entire energy on the Olympics three months later. The Olympics, mind you, is very much an individual game.

I've covered four Thomas Cup editions, including two overseas, the first for Berita Harian in Jakarta 1994 and four years later for the Malay Mail in Hong Kong. I was there in Athens when our hopes of mounting the podium lay in the ruins of the Parthenon. The two Thomas Cup editions, as well as the Athens Games, were memorable to me for different reasons. I shall dwell into this later.

Interestingly, the BA of Malaysia picked Arif Abdul Latif for the fourth singles ahead of two other Project 2010-2012 players, Tan Chun Seang and Chong Wei Feng, and four seasoned campaigners – Yeoh Kay Bin, Mohd Roslin Hashim of Nusa Mahsuri and the KLRC Bhd duo, Lee Tsuen Seng and Sairul Amar Ayob.

The top three are Lee Chong Wei, Hafiz Hashim and Wong Choong Hann.



Singles: Lee Chong Wei, Wong Choong Hann, Mohd Hafiz Hashim, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif.

Doubles: Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif.


Singles: Wong Mew Choo, Julia Wong, Lydia Cheah, Tee Jing Yee.

Doubles: Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty, Lim Pek Siah-Ng Hui Lin, Goh Liu Ying-Woon Khe Wei.

An audience with Tunku Majid

Malaysian Hockey Federation deputy president Tunku Bendahara Tunku Abdul Majid Idris Sultan Iskandar has granted me an audience with him before the MHF Council meeting on May 4.

I hope His Royal Highness allows me to have a no-holds-barred session this time.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Thank you, TV9 and TV1

Friday, Apr 25, 2008. Time 8.45pm. I got a call.

I could instantly recognise the voice. The same voice blurted out instructions in a very clear and precise manner, just like a good teacher does, when I was covering Parliamentary sessions for Berita Harian in 1996.

"Encik Rizal, saya ni peminat blog Encik Rizal...kenal tak siapa ni?

"Hahaha mana boleh tak kenal, ini suara yang mengarahkan I ke sana ke mari kat Parlimen dulu hahaha...ha nah nih, duk sebelah "tengok I buat story"!"

It was Wan Sabariah Shikh Ali, a graduate of PETS1, NSTP's pioneering project designed to train journalist-wannabes.

"We want you to talk about the match-fixing menace in football for our Nasi Lemak Kopi O programme tomorrow. It's TV9 breakfast talk show which discusses everything under the sun," said the TV9 executive producer.

Of course I could not turn down a request, or invite, from a respected senior like her. Always respectful of a senior, I duly obliged. It's not everyday you get to be on TV.

Left home around 6.55am, I reached Studio C at Sri Pentas around 7.25am.

I must admit I had seen the programme not more than three times, I reckon, so I did not know what to expect. I know the host Aziz Desa well, though, since he was the head of Kelab Kebajikan Berita Harian when I was a committee member.

I was the first guest to be invited on stage. Over a mug of kopi O and nasi lemak on a kopitiam table, we discussed issues surrounding the news of the day, that the bribery scandal in football is back to haunt us.

I guess everything went well with hosts Aziz Desa and Zaleha Khairene Ismail, until at the end of my session when I left the table without taking cue from the assistant producer!

As usual, my wife was the first to respond to the boo-boo, commenting through the SMS "Oh what an undignified end."

By 1.30pm, I was already at the International Broadcasting Centre at RTM as guest of Fokus Bola hosted by Zainal Abidin Rawop. My fellow guest was Azlan Johar, former Malay Mail coach.

Again, I said it was difficult to eradicate this menace but what we can do is to come up with preventive measures through the force of law.

Legalised betting, like in Singapore, is also not the solution because people bet, people invest and people buy people over to win more money. It is still rampant. Otherwise why would Home United be under investigation for a recent AFC Cup match?

I told this to L'Equipe writer, Michel Nait Challal, in an interview with the French magazine in Kuala Lumpur in early 1996, months after the police crackdown which saw 126 players picked up for questioning.

Twenty one of them were banished under the Restricted Residence Act, while 58 were banned between one and four years by the FA of Malaysia.

It will never end, I tell you. But personally, football activities in the country must not come to a grinding halt.

Go ask our old colonial masters. Jual game has been part of the English culture. Ten players were arrested and charged in court in 1965, and study the history even further back, when Billy Meredith, the Welsh wing wizard whose reputation was tarnished by the allegation that he bribed Aston Villa's Alec Leake £10 to lose a match in 1904. He was later slapped with an 18-month ban from playing for Manchester City.

Remember the Luciano Moggi scandal in 2006, months before Italy lifted the World Cup? How Paolo Rossi (picture, leaving Brazilian left-back Junior trailing in his wake) was convicted and banned for two years for his involvement in the Mafia-led scandal in 1980 but two years later he was hailed a hero?

What about Bernard Tapie and Olympique de Marseille's involvement in the 1993 Ligue Un, five years before France were crowned world champions in Paris?

German referee Robert Hoyzer was up to mischief too as the man in the middle, gifting penalties to teams, sending off people at his whim and fancy just to pocket more money.

The game has suffered, true. The fans feel betrayed, yes. But the show must go on.

TV9 and TV1, merci beaucoup for giving me the opportunity to appear live on TV twice on the same day. Oh and happy birthday again to TV9 Dekat di Hati, and Haji Zar, the host of Fokus Bola.

Friday, April 25, 2008

ACA aje...

Maybe, just maybe, this is why we need an independent ACA, one that will act without fear or favour, just like in the case of match-fixing involving footballers.

Whether they are current internationals, ex-internationals, water-carriers, windshield wipers or playmakers, is immaterial."

Friday April 25, 2008 MYT 7:45:48 PM
ACA: Azalina only acted as patron

PETALING JAYA: The Anti-Corruption Agency's (ACA) investigations show that Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said only acted as the patron of the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation Malaysia, and was not involved in the expenditure matters of the foundation.

In a statement issued Friday, the agency stated that it started immediate investigations following several press reports, checked all related documents, and interviewed several staff of the foundation.

“On the RM1.4mil expenditure, the auditor had translated “persembahan” (performances) as entertainment, whereby in the context meant the opening and closing ceremony of the National Women Sports,” the statement added.

An English daily had reported that the foundation, in its annual report, had stated that their expenditures included RM2.1mil for meals and accommodation, RM710,000 for printing and stationery, RM242,000 for volunteers’ allowances, RM1.4mil for entertainment and RM858,000 for travelling and transportation.

One year has passed

It has been a year since Dungun-born Manchester United fan Datuk Zolkples Embong (picture) was appointed to the hotseat as the chief of the National Sports Council.

But I wonder whether he was in any mood to celebrate upon reading Terence Fernandez's very down to earth piece in the Sun today.


Someone must answer for funds fiasco
Terence Fernandez

POOR Datuk Zolkples Embong! After being a loyal servant of his ex-boss, the National Sports Council (NSC) director-general now finds himself discarded and left to fend for himself over the extravagance of the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation Malaysia (WSFFM).

Former youth and sports minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said has distanced herself from the million-ringgit fiasco that is WSFFM’s National Women’s Games by saying that she does not get involved with the foundation’s management and funding.

The present tourism minister was reported as saying on Wednesday that as the mere patron of the foundation, she “just cut ribbons”.

“I don’t get involved with management and I don’t have a say in funding,” she was reported as saying in a local daily.

So, if she had no say in the funding, then who did?

The accounts of the WSFFM clearly show that it received a grant of RM9.72 million from the NSC and another RM1.5 million from the ministry – good money, people’s money that was squandered on staging the games where aerial dancers were brought in from Australia to the tune of RM800,000 for the opening ceremony.

So, if Azalina had no say in handing out taxpayers’ money to the foundation, who decided on who got what and how much; and who signed the cheques?

The only other person who could have approved the RM9.72 million grant would have been Zolkples .

Now that his ex-boss has sent him into the lion’s den with her declaration, Zolkples will have to account for the money that the NSC generously gave away to an outfit whose role and benefits are suspect, while the NSC’s own sports development fund is almost dry.

Zolkples must answer why almost RM10 million was handed to the WSFFM on a silver platter, while the NSC cuts its allocation for other sports associations.

However, Azalina still has to account for the RM1.5 million which was doled out by her own office, unless of course in the true spirit of sports and fitness, she would rather tai-chi the responsibility to the ministry’s secretary-general, Datuk Mohd Yasin Mohd Salleh, who was already made to answer for the ministry’s exorbitant expenditures as indicated in the Auditor-General’s Report.

However, I can foresee the defences of these two officials – “saya yang menurut perintah”!

Which is why, instead of getting her minions to attack my colleague Citizen Nades on the web, it would be better for Azalina to not just cut ribbons but also the bull over how she managed taxpayers’ money that had been entrusted to her the last four years.

She must come clean with the money she had spent – including the need to relocate and refurbish her new office in Putrajaya while her successor at the Youth and Sports Ministry Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob has embarked on an austerity drive.

This former Public Accounts Committee member probably had no choice as he inherited a ministry with dwindling coffers.

At a time when some of our former Olympians and national athletes cannot even afford medical treatment, the ministry and its affiliates, including the NSC, must resolve to stop this sinful waste of funds and channel the money for what it is meant for – sports development and the welfare of our athletes, both past and present.

Yes, Zolkples and Yasin must account for the privileged treatment of the WSFFM, which has come within the radar of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA). But Azalina should not be allowed to wash her hands off this issue. She cannot feign ignorance. Being the then minister, the buck stopped with her.

Fixing the fixers

One foreign player left the country last night, while one former international has been remanded for seven days.

The scourge of match rigging has reared its ugly head, again.

The foreigner is believed to have left the country for good, in the midst of police and ACA investigation.

Today the FA of Malaysia announced its intention to save the game by imposing several drastic measures, one of which is to suspend the Malaysia Cup matches kicking off in June.

FAM deputy president Khairy Jamaluddin (picture) did not rule out the possibility of reviewing the league structure in totality.

Although the YB from Rembau refused to pre-judge or pre-empt investigations, he hinted the worst case scenario - for us to return to the amateur days!

The prestigious Intercontinental Cup featuring eight teams in May may also be scrapped.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Clash of the titans

TWO giants in the Malaysian sportswriting world may lock horns in the Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM) elections scheduled in May.

Abu Bakar Atan, the TV3 assignment editor, is not about to give up his post.

The man most likely to challenge him for the presidency is Bakar's former protege, Ahmad Khawari Isa of Berita Harian.

Khawari, a graduate of the pre-Editorial Training Scheme (PETS) 3, is the otai of the sportswriting fraternity known for his hard-hitting comments and stinging questions as well.

Many a time I was privileged enough to see him in action, putting Director-Generals, Secretary Generals and politicians to the sword, not literally of course.

Bakar, Khawari and I used to be under the same roof. While Khawari and I were still learning the ropes under the tutelage of former Berita Harian sports editor, Mohd Zian Johari, Bakar was a senior reporter at the Harian Metro sports desk shortly before he was transferred to TV3.

The three of us always differ, not only in terms of looks and physique but also in opinions.

SAM is of course a prestigious body that has lost its direction in recent times. The founding members include Norman Siebel, Datuk Rahim Razali, the late Mansoor Rahman, Ian Augustine Pereira and S.L.E Maran.

One individual who brought SAM to greater heights was the late Zainuddin Bendahara (pic), Zian's predecessor at BH. Only later I discovered Zainuddin was married to Zubaidah Abdul Rahman or Zar, who was BH women's editor for a long time. Like my late mum, Zubaidah was a member of the pioneering batch of Sekolah Tengku Fatimah (STF) in 1956.

Datuk Fauzi Omar, the sports critic with a huge following, presided over the association in the 90s, with two of his buddies, Lazarus Rokk as an exco member and Johnson Fernandez as the secretary.

Fauzi was MM editor and Johnson was my immediate superior between 1999 and 2003.

I believe SAM's fortunes took a downward spiral after the split between its exco members in the mid 90s.

More to come?

Twenty athletes, including six with previous Olympic experience, have so far earned their ticket to the Beijing edition in August.

Four years ago, 26 athletes boarded the plane to Athens.

Following is the list of 20, according to the NSC communications unit.

Adalah dimaklumkan, berikut adalah senarai 20 atlet dari 8 jenis sukan yang telah telah melayakkan diri ke Sukan Olimpik Beijing. Mereka ialah:

i. Akuatik (Terjun) – Bryan Nickson Lomas – 10m platform ind.

ii. Akuatik (Terjun) – Leong Mun Yee (pic courtesy of Getty Images) – 3m springboard ind.

iii. Akuatik (Terjun) – Elizabeth Jimie – 3m springboard ind.

iv. Akuatik (Terjun) – Pandalela Rinong – 10m platform ind.

v. Akuatik (Renang) – Daniel Bego – 200m fly, 200m free, 100m fly.

vi. Akuatik (Renang) – Khoo Cai Lin – 400m free, 800m free.

vii. Akuatik (Renang) – Siow Yi Ting – 200m IM, 200m breast, 400m IM.

viii. Olahraga – Roslinda Samsu – Lompat bergalah.

ix. Memanah – Cheng Chu Sian – ind dan berpasukan.

x. Memanah – Muhammad Marbawi Sulaiman – Ind dan berpasukan.

xi. Memanah – Wan Mohd Khalmizan Wan Abd Aziz – Ind dan berpasukan.

xii. Taekwando – Che Chew Chan – atas 67kg.

xiii. Takewando – Elaine Teoh – bawah 57 kg.

xiv. Menembak – Hasli Izwan Amir Hasan – 25m rapid fire pistol.

xv. Pelayaran – Kevin Lim Leong Keat – Laser Standard.

xvi. Olahraga – Yuan Yu Fang – 20km jalan kaki.

xvii. Lumba basikal – Josiah Ng, Mohd Rizal Tisin, Mohd Edrus Md Yunus, Mohd Azizulhasni Awang dan Junaidi Mohd Nasir (seorang akan digugurkan) – Keirin (2 slot), pecut berpasukan (tiga pelumba) dan pecut (1 slot).

Nur Azmi slams Sarjit

MM carried this yesterday

Look at the man in the mirror


FORMER national hockey team manager Nur Azmi Ahmad slammed current national coach Sarjit Singh for not taking responsibility for Malaysia's failure to reach the Olympic qualifiers final in Kakamigahara, Japan, earlier this month.

In Monday's Mailsport, Sarjit said he should be absolved of blame for the team's failure to qualify for the Beijing Olympics and blamed the previous team management.

Malaysia finished third in Kakamigahara while Japan were second and Germany first.

Only the champions earned a ticket to Beijing but the national team's target was to finish at least runners-up.

Sarjit argued the previous management were to blame as they only finished sixth in the 2006 Doha Asian Games, thus relegating Malaysia to the qualifying tournament.

"As the former team manager, I have to protect my squad," said Nur Azmi, who was the team boss from March 2006 to January 2007, when he stepped down along with coach Wallace Tan.

"It is not fair to blame us. As the manager, I took full responsibility for the team's poor performance and the new management should take responsibility for their own failure.

"We finished third at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games but were given little or no praise.

"But when we failed at the World Cup qualifiers in China a few weeks later, it became a big issue.

"We, however, didn't point fingers at anybody."

He said complete reports were given promptly upon the team's return from competitions, regardless of the outcome.

"Reports should be handed in immediately," said Nur Azmi, who is a Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) vice-president.

"The current management should bear the responsibility as they are the ones handling the team, not us.

"We did not blame anyone for our failure but apologised instead.

"The current management should have apologised to the public first, then to the MHF. They should not give excuses.

"If the current management can't handle the heat, maybe they shouldn't handle the team."

Wallace maintained a dignified stance as he didn't want to make matters worse.

"What's there for me to say?" asked the 50-year-old from Malacca, who was the national coach from 2004-2007.

"I do not want to interfere, but I never blamed Paul Lissek, who was the coach before me, or anyone else."

Wallace took over from Lissek in 2004. However, after finishing sixth in Doha, he and Nur Azmi tendered their resignation as they took the blame for the team's poor outing.

Meanwhile, MHF deputy president Tunku Abdul Majid Idris Sultan Iskandar has indicated the national body will not ask the National Sports Council (NSC) for a pay hike for the national coaches.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


My friend S.S. Dhaliwal posted these news in his blog.

More on the Indian Hockey Secretary Expose From Indian Newspapers

Chennai, April 21: Indian Hockey Association secretary K. Jothikumaran tried to put up a brave face before resigning from his post. A private news channel caught him accepting a bribe from people involved in a sting operation over the conduct of an international tournament.

Jothikumaran also included a 16-year-old in the national squad for next month’s Sultan Azlan Shah tournament at the insistence of the TV sting team. It’s reliably learnt that the player concerned was Lalit Upadhyay from Varanasi.

Jothikumaran told this newspaper a few minutes before his resignation that he was denying the TV channel’s allegations. "My conversation with a group of businessmen was only about an international tournament they had proposed to sponsor. I didn’t accept money for any player’s inclusion in the national team. One cannot mix both. I hadn’t given any assurance to them about the player’s place in the team," he added.

When asked whether the IHF secretary could accept cash from tournament sponsors, Jothikumaran said he would reply in detail on Tuesday. It is, however, all over for one of the key administrators of Indian hockey for close to a decade and a half.

PTI adds: Soon after the news channel beamed the sting operation Jothikumaran called up IHF president K.P.S. Gill and informed him that he had resigned from the post which he had occupied for close to 15 years.

The channel said in a release that its Special Investigation Team found that the selection process in hockey was not "always fair, the current administration is highly corrupt and that IHF president Gill is oblivious of the corrupt practices of his colleagues."

The channel claimed that after receiving a cash payment of Rs 2 lakh and taking a promise of another Rs 3 lakh to be given to his man in Delhi, Jothikumaran assured the channel’s team of getting a player picked up for the senior hockey team for the Azlan Shah hockey tournament next month.

It claimed that the bribe money was given to him in a five star hotel in Delhi in two instalments on April 10 and 11.

The Asian Age

NEW DELHI, April 21: Indian Hockey Federation secretary K Jothikumaran’s luck has finally run out. For years, the grapevine had buzzed with talk of shady deals involving him. Now, the man who held the second most powerful post in Indian hockey for 14 years has been exposed by a news channel's sting operation showing him taking money to get a player selected for the Azlan Shah Cup to be held at Kuala Lumpur in May. This is a fresh blow to the 'national game' that's already struggling to stay alive in the country.

Jothikumaran resigned late on Monday night after the damning evidence was aired on television. Not that he had much choice. IHF chief K P S Gill had categorically stated after the sting that Jothikumaran would be sacked.

"We will remove him. We are now looking to appoint someone as the acting secretary tomorrow itself. Somebody who can stoop to such a level and disgrace the game need not continue," Gill told TOI after the channel showed the Chennai-based secretary demanding Rs 5 lakh for ensuring the selection of a player in the national team. The team for the Azlan Shah Cup was to be picked on Tuesday, Gill said.

According to the sting transcript, Jothikumaran received cash payment of Rs 2 lakh in a Delhi hotel on April 10 and 11 and was promised that the rest would be delivered to his man in the capital. "A few days after receiving the money, Jothikumaran told us the player's name had been included in the list of probables for Azlan Shah Cup to be sent to the ministry this week," the transcript said.

"Jothikumaran assured us that as far he was concerned the player was in, and it was now just a matter of formality. The special investigation team did not know this player at all. Just to make the entire investigation look real, they used the name of this player as he was part of the recently held camp at Bangalore and was not included in the team for the ongoing tour of Australia," the transcript added.

IHF president KPS gill was non-committal when asked whether IHF would start any probe against the secretary. "They have shown him taking money. What can I say to that? Probes, inquiries are different things. We have to look into the seriousness of the allegations," he said.

The channel also said when its investigative team approached Jothikumaran as a business house that wanted to organize an international tournament, "Jothikumaran asked for Rs 5 lakh in the name of seed money to facilitate the event. Out of this he demanded Rs 3 lakh in cash and the rest in the name of a front company working for him in Delhi," the channel said.

The latest development has come as a fresh blow for a game that's already struggling to stay alive in the country.

Reacting to the expose, former India captain Pargat Singh said it was a shocking revelation. "We have been hearing about it for a long time. This is a shocking thing to have happened. He should be immediately sacked and a criminal case should be lodged against him," he told TOI.

Meanwhile, Jothikumaran told an agency - "I was genuinely under the impression that a proposal for conducting a big tournament on the lines of Azlan Shah tournament was being debated with me by the reporters of the news channel. At no point of time did I raise anything about selection.

"The money they allege that I had taken was in my opinion to meet the initial expenses for organising the event in India on the same lines of Azlan shah tournament."

The Times of India

A-political Malay Mail

The, run by mostly people who were once on the payroll of the New Straits Times Press, has this exclusive story.

'Malay Mail' to be political sheet

KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — The Malay Mail, the Kuala Lumpur daily that has seen better days in its 112-year history, will turn into a political afternoon newspaper focused on Pakatan Rakyat-ruled states when relaunched May 5.

The Simpletech-Gabungan Kesturi consortium that bought The Malay Mail from NSTP Berhad has appointed industry veteran Tony Francis as editor with the tabloid's old news editor Frankie D'Cruz as consultant.

The Malaysian Insider has also learnt that former The Star political correspondent K. Baradan is

helming The Malay Mail's political desk and is looking to hire reporters for states under the Pakatan governments.

The tabloid, which will continue to cover sports and entertainment news, has offered to retain its staff who were earlier employed by NSTP. The media giant sold the newspaper after revamps failed to stem falling circulation.

But the new owners are optimistic the newspaper's new direction and return to afternoon editions to be sold in the Pakatan Rakyat states will bring it back to black. They also expect higher revenues from the Euro 2008 football championships this June.

Simpletech's owner Datuk Ibrahim Mohamed Nor (picture left, taken from sirloinskipper fotopages) is a politically-connected businessman with a stake in Blue Inc that owns string of lifestyle magazines. Gabungan Kesturi is a substantial shareholder of public-listed Media Prima Berhad, which in turn is a major shareholder in NSTP Berhad.

NSTP sold The Malay Mail for less than the sticker price of RM15 million, while keeping its valuable archives of reports and photos gathered since the paper's first hit the streets on December 14, 1896.

The new owners have opted for experience when they chose editor Tony Francis who used to be New Straits Times chief news editor after decades in the sports desk. His last job was editor-in-chief of sports weekly The Malaysian Today.

Frankie D'Cruz was news editor when The Malay Mail regularly hit 100,000 in circulation in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He left in 1993 to found English-language free sheet The Leader owned by the Utusan Group.

The newspaper's relaunch will be at the Nikko Hotel, sources said.

Bola kempis

A former Kedah coach has turned to blogosphere to express his no-holds-barred opinions.

Go to I can't seem to link it properly to this entry. Sigh

Between the Devils and the Deep Blue of Chelsea, I choose neither

I think Rafa Benitez and his boys will get the chance to take on Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League final in Moscow next month.

Manchester United's may have enjoyed an irresistable form in the much-hyped English Premiership but Barcelona's attacking options are almost limitless. I might be wrong but it's going to be Liverpool versus Barcelona, and for Thierry Henry to finally lift the Ol' Big Ears!

Anyway Chelsea were lucky to escape with a draw after that own goal by John Arne Riise at Anfield early this morning. Perhaps the Norwegian will redeem himself with a trademark left-footed thunderbolt at Stamford Bridge in the second leg.

Bingkisan dari utara, Letter from up north

I reproduce this letter from up north. The writer prefers a pseudonym.


Peminat Mahu Pengurus Baru

Pertama sekali Kelab Penyokong Hijau Kuning (HKC) mengucapkan sekalung tahniah kepada pasukan Bolasepak Negeri Kedah Darulaman yang berjaya mengekalkan kejuaraan Liga Super 2007/2008.

Sesungguhnya kejayaan ini telah mencipta sejarah baru dalam lipatan bolasepak tempatan sebagai pasukan pertama mengekalkan kejuaraan Liga Super.

HKC juga ingin merakamkan ucapan tahniah kepada Persatuan Bolasepak Kedah (KFA) yang telah memberi nafas baru kepada KFA dengan melantik beberapa muka baru dalam Mesyuarat Agong KFA ke-34 pada 10 April lepas.

Nyata banyak isu mutakhir yang dilihat sebagai perkembangan positif buat peminat Kedah, namun begitu rata-rata peminat masih kurang berpuas hati kerana peminat mahukan suntikan baru dalam pengurusan bolasepak Kedah. Justeru peminat mahukan pengurus baru bagi membolehkan pasukan Bolasepak Kedah lebih menyerlah di dalam setiap pertandingan yang disertai.

Bukan niat untuk menafikan kewibawaan pengurus kini iaitu Datuk Othman Aziz tetapi hasrat peminat ini lebih kepada kekecewaan bagaimana Datuk Othman tidak professional lansung dalam menguruskan pasukan sehingga sanggup melepaskan dua pemain muda berbakat iaitu Zairul Fitree dan Bunyamin Umar kepada pasukan lain.

Lebih sedih lagi, sebagai pengurus pasukan beliau tidak lansung berbincang dengan jurulatih-jurulatih pasukan ketika membuat keputusan melepaskan dua pemain tersebut yang akibatnya En. Azraai Khor, Tuan Haji Radzi Mat Din dan Encik Ahmad Sobri menghadapi tekanan yang cukup tinggi apabila berhadapan dengan banyak pemain yang mengalami kecederaan sedangkan pemain ganti tidak mencukupi.

Tidakkah tindakan Datuk Othman ini membelakangkan kepentingan pasukan sendiri kerana tidak syak beliau mempunyai kepentingan peribadi ketika melepaskan kedua-dua pemain tersebut.

Atas sebab itu, kredibiliti Datuk Othman tampak sudah terjejas di mata peminat Kedah apa tah lagi dengan kebisuan Datuk Othman Aziz menjelaskan kepada peminat kaedah apa dipakai dalam urusan perpindahan dua pemain tersebut.

Kejayaan menggondol tiga piala pada tahun 2007 sebenarnya adalah lebih kepada perancangan bijak yang diatur oleh Datuk Paduka Ahmad Basri Akil yang ketika itu menjadi Pengurus Pasukan Kenari bersama-sama barisan kejurulatihan yang diketuai oleh Azraai Khor Abdullah. Datuk Othman cuma mengambil alih pasukan setelah Datuk Ahmad Basri menyediakan segalanya dan ia jelas Datuk Othman bukanlah perencana utama kejayaan pasukan Kedah.

Cuma sedikit kredit harus diberikan kepada Datuk Othman kerana meneruskan apa yang telah dirancang oleh Datuk Ahmad Basri. Walaubagaimanapun, kredibiliti Datuk Othman sudah hancur pada pandangan mata peminat Kedah kerana tindakan-tindakan beliau menyebabkan pasukan ibarat menjadi tempang dan Alhamdulillah atas kebijaksanaan barisan kejurulatihan pasukan Kedah yang diketuai oleh Azraai Khor berjaya mengimbangi kecacatan tersebut hingga mampu menguasai persada bolasepak negara.

Mesej jelas dari HKC ialah kami perlukan pengurus baru dan kami percaya masih ramai calon yang cukup berwibawa yang boleh diketengahkan menjadi pengganti Datuk Othman.

Bagi seluruh peminat pasukan bolasepak Kedah, kami mensifatkan Datuk Othman Aziz sebagai petualang kepada pasukan Kedah atau gunting dalam lipatan. Demi kepentingan peribadinya beliau sanggup menurut telunjuk pihak-pihak tertentu yang mana tindakannya itu lebih merupakan tikaman dari belakang kepada perjuanagan pasukan bolasepak Negeri Kedah Darul Aman.



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Brief attachment is not the answer

Although I'm pleased Bunyamin Umar and Baddrol Bakhtiar were given the chance to pitch their small tent at Cobham, where the multi-millionaires of Chelsea train, short-term attachments are not really the answer to our footballing woes.

What our boys need is a competitive environment on a long-term basis. They must learn how to survive the cut-throat business of football in Europe or at least outside this region. And they should do it before they turn 21.

I was personally involved in getting Akmal Rizal Ahmad Rakhli (above) and Juzaili Samion the stint with Racing Strasbourg in 1999-2000 and they will tell you how ruthless it can be in the real world.

They used to train with FR Haguenau, an amateur outfit in the French fourth division at night and Strasbourg in the morning. This was arranged by Claude Le Roy, who was Strasbourg general manager then.

Due to his clinical finishing, Akmal was featured in France Football in August 2000. The magazine is widely acknowledged as the best in Europe. The prestigious European Footballer of the Year award was their brainchild.

It is also a sister publication of L'Equipe which came up with the European Cup, now known as the UEFA Champions League.

In its August 22, 2000 edition, a page was dedicated to FR Haguenau's aspirations in the CFA.

The writer Michel Kapfer described Akmal as an essential piece in Haguenau's ambitions of promotion to the National league, the third division in the French league hierarchy.

Haguenau then were in Group A of CFA, the French Amateur Championship contested by amateur clubs and the second team from the top-flight sides.

Also placed in Haguenau's group, among others, were the French Cup runners-up, Calais plus the second stringers from Metz, Mulhouse, Strasbourg, Nancy, Lens, Lille, Rouen and Troyes.

Three months later Akmal made his international debut in the forgettable 5-1 defeat to Qatar in the World Cup qualifiers in Hong Kong.

Two days later he bounced back with two goals - which the then FA of Malaysia deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah described as being made in France - against Hong Kong.

It was a pity Akmal suffered a hamstring injury on the eve of a trial with Sedan Ardennes. He returned to Kedah, plagued by injuries and never quite recovered the form that made him one of the most feared strikers in this region.

Back to the issue of short-term attachments, I think they served little purpose apart from giving our boys opportunities to train, train and train without performing under match conditions.

Study what the late George Armstrong had to say about four Malaysian players attached to Arsenal way back in 1998.

I WISH to place on record these four players - Hairuddin Omar, Nanthakumar
Ramachandran, Das Gregory Kolopis and Tengku Hazman Raja Hassan - have
been a credit to the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) by conducting
themselves in an excellent manner both on and off the training field.
In general terms, the players are very fit and I was very impressed by
their standard of fitness and keenness to do well in training. On running
shuttles and other exercises, the four are as sharp as all the other
players at the club and it should be taken into account the four weeks
they were in training, we had a record rainfall and cold winds almost
everyday in England. However, training continued uninterrupted.
The Malaysian players are very quiet and reserved in character in
comparison to their English counterparts and they should be encouraged to
talk to teammates more and demand the ball when in better positions.
But after a period of training, only Das and Nanthakumar were heard
shouting for the ball - but not as much as I would have wished.
I was impressed by the Malaysians' toughness and courage as they were
subjected to some very heavy but fair tackles. Their technical skills are
also excellent.
It would be wrong of me to single out any player for praise or criticism
without seeing them in action in a competitive match. All four are very
brave and did not shrink from tackling their taller and heavier opponents.
Their ball-passing was also a joy to watch.
If I may be permitted to give a couple of constructive points, the
players could improve on:
l ball watching, not always aware of opponents' movements off the ball;
l learning to mark from the side as doing so behind a player leads to
shielding the ball by an opponent and a free kick if tackled from behind
All the players showed good attitude and I only wish I could have
fielded them in competitive matches to see them perform under match
conditions. I hope the four players enjoyed their stay at The Sopwell
House Hotel and the hospitality of Arsenal Football Club.
If ever they do return to England, a warm welcome awaits them at
Arsenal. We wish them a long successful career as international players.
All four players were first class ambassadors for Malaysia.

George Armstrong
(Arsenal reserve team coach)

Don't blame me, says Sarjit

Read the Malay Mail today and it is interesting that national hockey coach Sarjit Singh has blamed his predecessors for the team's failure to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

HOCKEY/OLYMPIC QUALIFIER > Sarjit: It wasn’t my fault
Ghaz Ramli
SARJIT SINGH is disappointed he has been victimised for the country’s failure to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

The former national skipper has absolved himself of blame and pointed the finger at the previous team management who he feels should be held accountable.
“The damage was done even before I was appointed national coach,” said the 45-year-old, who has worked with the team for more than 15 months after replacing Wallace Tan on Jan 23 last year.

“With the sixth place finish at the 2006 Doha Asian Games, we knew it won’t be easy in the qualifiers, especially with world champions Germany there,” added Sarjit, whose salary is in the spotlight as the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have requested that the Na- tional Sports Council (NSC) give him an increment despite the team’s failure to reach the final in Kakamigahara, Japan.

“How come my salary is being brought up now? What about the time when the team qualified for the Sultan Azlan Cup final for the first time in 13 years? “Or even the third place finish at the Asia Cup in India last September? “When I was appointed, I was given a target of reaching the 2012 London Olympics. I would like a chance to do my job and if I fail, I will step down.

“Many parties don’t support the team. During the impressive performance at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, the team were rated as the saviours of Malaysian hockey.

“But one bad match against Italy, and we are back to zero. How are the players suppose to keep their focus till the next Olympics?” The Batu Pahat-born Sarjit’s first job with MHF was in 2004 when he was named the National Juniors coach.

He was entrusted to get the team to the 2005 Junior World Cup in Rotterdam, Holland, from the Junior Asia Cup.

However, the team failed to finish in the top three and were eliminated from the World Cup, only for the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to accept a request from the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) to allow four Asian teams a place in the Junior World Cup.

In Rotterdam, Sarjit’s boys could only finish a disappointing 10th, but he was still retained as coach for the 2009 Junior World Cup which Malaysia will co-host with Singapore.

He was promoted to the senior side after Wallace Tan failed to win a medal at the Asian Games.

Sarjit’s next assignment is the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup from May 8-18 in Ipoh.

“Many expect us to win the tournament after the poor outing in Japan, but we are one of the lowest-ranked teams.

“There are four Olympic-bound nations and Argentina and India, who are two strong hockey nations,” said Sarjit.

“We will do our best but the team need positive vibes and not harsh comments every time they fail.

There will be no progress then.”

Is match-fixing back to haunt us?

The major crackdown on footballers allegedly to be on the take dealt Malaysian football a crippling blow way back in 1994.

Have we not done enough to kill the scourge once and for all, or is it the accepted practice in the fraternity?

One coach was apparently sacked recently by his employers who suspected he was fixing matches.

Sign of corruption in Malaysian game?

PETALING JAYA: Are the bookies back at work?

The FA of Malaysia (FAM) have got to crack the whip as there are clear indications of the unhealthy practice making a return to the Malaysian Super League (MSL) this season.

It seems to be an “open secret” but none have been bold enough to come forward to report any match-fixing incidents to enable the authorities concerned to open up police investigations and to take action against the culprits, who bring disrepute to the game.

Last month, the Sarawak FA (FAS) suspended two players suspected of fixing a match.

Sarawak's Borneo Post reported that the FAS would conduct investigations into alleged match-fixing following the suspension of the two players.

Sarawak coach Kunju Jamaluddin admitted that two players had been suspended but did not to wish to elaborate on the offence.

“All I can say is that they were punished for indiscipline,” said Kunju when contacted in Kuching yesterday.

However, according to reliable sources, other players in the team were also suspected to be on the take and that each player had received RM20,000 to fix the result of a game.

Sarawak are languishing at the bottom of the 13-team Super League with 14 points.

With two more matches to go they are likely to be relegated to the Premier League next season.

The last nationwide crackdown on bookies and match-fixers in 1994 saw more than 100 players hauled up by the Police and many were subsequently banned.

This is the report in the New Straits Times

THE Police FA has hauled up nine players for poor performances while a coach has written to the FA of Malaysia (FAM) on at least two occasions stating his suspicions that bookies could be rearing their ugly heads in Malaysian football again.

Police, Premier League champions last year, conducted an internal inquiry on the nine following their poor performance in a season which has seen them only collect 18 points from 22 matche s.

“We conducted a domestic inquiry because these players have simply not been up to mark. We have not taken any action just yet though,” said Supt Mohd Annuar Othman, the executive secretary of the Police FA The management of the team is privatised with a budget of RM1.5 million.

Police were already in the limelight earlier this season when they signed Singaporean strikers Ahmad Latif Kamaruddin and Noh Alam Shah.

Noh Alam was subsequently released as he was serving a one-year suspension imposed by the Singapore FA while Ahmad Latif failed to impress.

Meanwhile, a coach is waiting for FAM to investigate his complaints about undesirable elements approaching his players.

In another development there is talk that bookies have made a comeback to the Malaysian Super League.

While some state or clubs penalised players based on poor performance it is learnt a local coach has written twice to the FA of Malaysia about his suspicions and about his players being ap - proached.

According to sources, a foreign national has made contact with players from the coach’s team.

He has been sighted at a house occupied by one player and also at the team training ground.

By : Christopher Raj

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tunku Majid defends Sarjit

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation submitted a revised pay structure to the National Sports Council long before Sarjit Singh's soldiers faltered at the recent Olympic qualifiers in Japan.

MHF deputy president Tunku Bendahara Tunku Abdul Majid Idris Sultan Iskandar said the proposal was submitted to the government agency with the consent of the president, Tan Sri Anwar Mohd Nor, shortly after the Asia Cup in Chennai last year, when Malaysia finished third.

"Everybody asks for a pay rise but it is up to NSC to decide. The recommendation was done by the coaching committee long ago," said Tunku Majid.

But Tunku Majid said he would recommend for the issue to be dropped and instead impose a target for Sarjit to work on, which is to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

Despite the issues raised after the Japan tournament, Tunku Majid stood by Sarjit, insisting that the former national skipper had performed creditably, having guided Malaysia to the runners-up spot in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and third in Chennai.

"As I told you earlier, we had to start from scratch after the Doha Asian Games and the intention is to shape a decent squad for the Asia Cup next year, which is a platform to qualify for the World Cup 2010."

Tunku Majid also refuted suggestions that MHF were heavy in debt, saying the matter would be settled once the sponsors who had committed to help the national body fulfill their obligations.

Tunku Majid also dismissed the allegations that he had arbitrarily made decisions on behalf of MHF.

"Please correct the misconception that I bulldoze my way through in MHF meetings. My job is to deputise for Tan Sri Anwar in whatever he asked me to do, but if there is something that I see can be improved upon, I would express my opinion."

On allegations that certain individuals in the national set-up are involved in the money-lending business, Tunku Majid said it was against his principle to poke his nose into people's personal lives.

When asked about some of the comments posted in this blog touching on Sarjit's part behind Malaysia's abysmal performance in the Intercontinental Cup in Poznan in 1993 which put paid to the nation's hopes of qualifying for the 1994 World Cup, Tunku Majid said Sarjit and Terry Walsh remain the best of friends.

Tunku Majid also reiterated his belief that the national team would perform to expectation in 2012.

"If the target of doing extremely well in the 2012 Olympics is not met, I would gladly leave my post and let someone else take over. I would also like to urge those who think they can contribute something to the game to come to MHF, come to the ground and offer their services. Stop spreading malicious lies or comments in the Internet."

On the allegations that he had not lift a finger to raise funds for MHF, Tunku Majid said he dug into his own pocket to come up with the start up fund of RM500,000 to run the Junior World Cup.

Torch in the rain

Taken from

KUALA LUMPUR, April 21) -- The Kuala Lumpur leg of the 2008 Olympic torch relay concluded successfully on Monday when the last torchbearer, Malaysia's ninth king and Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, lit the waiting flame cauldron at about 6:00 p.m. local time (1000 GMT).

From the Malaysian capital's Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), the sacred flame made its way through important historic and tourists sites around the city, finally stopping at the Petronas Twin Towers about four hours later.

Minutes before the clock struck 5:00, the clouds above Kuala Lumpur opened up and let down sheets of rain. This, however, did not seriously affect the relay, and fans stayed out, risking getting soaked, to offer their support for the Beijing Games.

Speeches given at the closing ceremony included thanks to BOCOG for putting Kuala Lumpur on the torch relay map, and wishes for a successful Beijing Games.

Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja'afar spoke about the honor his country feels of being selected as a stop on the global route. Malaysians will remember this day forever, he pronounced. The OCM president was the first torchbearer on Malaysia's route.

Jiang Xiaoyu, BOCOG vice-president, brought up the long, cooperative friendship China and Malaysia have developed through the years. The sacred flame's "Journey of Harmony" represents worldwide peace, the representative continued, emphasizing that the Beijing torch relay stop in Malaysia will serve to strengthen ties between the two countries.

This is the second time since 1964 that Malaysia has hosted a torch relay.

At 11:00 p.m., the sacred flame will take off on its chartered plane to its next stop, Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.

The ex-dg says...

When an individual synonymous with Malaysian hockey says something, everyone else better sit up and take notice.

Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad says the National Sports Council must quickly address the issues surrounding the hockey team's failure to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

"When we failed to qualify for the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 after a poor outing at the qualifiers in Madrid, we decided to reassign coach Paul Lissek for development purposes.

"It was one of the measures taken, after considering all factors. The media too pressured both MHF and NSC to take the necessary steps.

"We must take immediate steps and review the whole situation. If not we are going to face the same issues year in year out.

"Are we willing to face the risk of not qualifying again for London 2012?" said Mazlan, who helmed NSC from 1993 to 2005.

Mazlan urges NSC to address those issues objectively, including whether or not Sarjit Singh has the credentials to coach at Olympic level, on why Paul Lissek did not tag along to Japan at the most critical moment and the reasons behind the 4-4 draw with minnows Italy when they suffered heavy losses to other teams.

"Let us think objectively. NSC should also study whether the coach deserves a pay raise or a pay cut. Sarjit might have the paper qualifications but does he have the pedigree? There is a need to discuss things objectively, honestly and without prejudice. As the government agency in charge of sports, NSC must seize the initiative."

Lissek was removed as chief coach and placed in youth development by NSC after the national team fared badly in the Asia Cup in 2003 but he was reinstated for the Madrid assignment.

He was removed for good after the Madrid outing, paving the way for Wallace Tan to assume the hotseat until Doha Asian Games in December 2006. Batu Pahat-born Sarjit was appointed to the post early 2007.

Refrain, please

Dear visitors,

This is a gentle reminder to this blog's visitors.

While the blog author appreciates the feedback and comments, please refrain from launching personal attacks on individuals.

If we were to fully utilise this blog as an avenue to express what is wrong in sports in this country, please do so in a civilised manner.

Otherwise the blog author will have to take the liberty of sending the comments into the thrash bin.

The blog author hates to resort to such actions, but it has to be done if one goes overboard in passing comments or remarks on individuals. We have to respect the rules of the game in the way Zidane respected Elizondo's decision after the infamous head-butt.

Post comments in the name of fair comment which guarantees the freedom to express statements on matters of public interest, as long as the statements are not made with ill will, spite, or with malicious intent.

Much appreciated.

MHF wants to reward Sarjit

Ah, The Malay Mail always sings a different tune.

Read Ghaz Ramli's comment in today's MM."

Reward only successful cases

ARE the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) willing to fork out their own money to give coach Sarjit Singh a pay hike after his failure in the Olympic
qualifiers earlier this month?

Can MHF, who are said to be in the red with more than RM1 million in outstanding bills, find the funds to reward the former national skipper?

More importantly, why should they?

The National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Zolkples Embong confirmed MHF have requested a pay hike for Sarjit, despite the team’s failure in Japan.

“MHF did ask for an increase in pay for him,” said Zolkples.

“However, the NSC have a salary cap for coaches, although those who show results will be rewarded a p p ro p ria t e l y. ”

Sarjit, a former national skipper, has done a good job since replacing Wallace Tan on Jan 23 2007.

He coached the team to the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, where Malaysia lost 3-1 to Au s t ra l ia .

He then led the team to third place in the Asia Cup in Chennai, India, seven months ago.

However, Sarjit, who represented Malaysia in the 1984 and 1992 Olympics in Los Angeles and Barcelona respectively, failed when it mattered most in the Olympic qualifiers in Kakamigaha- ra, Japan.

While no one expected Malaysia to earn the final berth to the Beijing Games, the target was to meet world No 1 Germany in the fi na l .

The team failed to achieve that as they could only draw 3-3 with hosts Japan in their final match.

However, the real damage was done when Malaysia escaped with a lucky 4-4 draw with minnows Italy, while struggling to a 2-1 victory over Poland and a 4-3 win against Switzerland.

Japan, on the other hand, hammered Poland 6-1 and thrashed Italy 5-1 and only beat Switzerland 2-1.

On Saturday, Sarjit and team manager, Sathish Kumar, travelled to Johor Baru to meet MHF deputy president Tunku Abdul Majid Idris Sultan Iskandar and secretary Hashim Mohamed Yusoff.

The postmortem, however, will only be made available on May 4 during MHF’s council meeting.

Hashim indicated there will be no major change in the team’s management and that Sarjit’s job is safe.

That is good as Sarjit needs a chance to redeem himself, but not if it comes with a pay increment.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Study the chronology

National Sports Council's elite director, Arrifin Ghani, issued this statement on Friday.


1. Makluman Am

1.1 Persediaan Pasukan Hoki (L) dari Program Elit 2008 ke Kejohanan Hoki Kelayakan Olimpik 2008 di Kakamigahara, Jepun telah bermula dari tahun 2007 dimana Persekutuan Hoki Malaysia (PHM) telah melantik En. Sarjit Singh sebagai Ketua Jurulatih Pasukan Senior Kebangsaan yang baru pada 26hb Januari 2007. PHM juga telah menyenaraikan hampir 23 orang pemain baru (dari skuad Remaja 2005) untuk diserapkan dalam program Elit 2007-2008 untuk persediaan ke arah Kejohanan Hoki Kelayakan Olimpik 2008 di Jepun (5-13 April 2008).

1.2 Sekurang-kurangnya dua (2) kali Mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Kerja antara MSN dan PHM telah diadakan pada tahun 2007 dan setiap permohonan yang dikemukakan oleh pihak PHM mengenai Program Latihan pasukan diputuskan bersama dalam kesemua Mesyuarat JKK tersebut. Sebagai makluman, Mesyuarat JKK telah bersetuju memutuskan untuk melantik sekurang-kurangnya 6 orang pegawai (termasuk 3 jurulatih penuh masa) dan memilih 30 orang pemain untuk menjalani latihan harian penuh masa di Stadium Hoki Nasional, Bukit Jalil bermula dari 26hb Januari 2007 hingga 31hb Disember 2007.

2. Isu Semasa : ‘Penumpang Terhormat – RM 230, 000.00 Hangus’

2.1 Untuk tahun 2008, pihak PHM melalui Mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Kerja antara MSN dan PHM bil.01/2008 pada 27hb Mac 2008 lalu, satu keputusan telah dipersetujui untuk membentuk sebuah pasukan hoki yang terdiri daripada 13 orang pegawai dan 18 orang pemain yang terpilih untuk mewakili negara ke kejohanan ini. Mesyuarat tersebut dipengerusikan oleh YBhg Dato’ KP MSN dan turut dihadiri Presiden PHM, YBhg Laksamana (B) Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Mohd Anwar b. Hj. Mohd Nor, Setiausaha Kehormat dan Pengerusi Kejurulatihan PHM.

2.2 Pihak PHM juga telah memohon peruntukan kewangan yang berjumlah RM 433, 795.00 bagi membawa pasukan ini ke Jepun. Setelah diteliti akan permohonan tersebut, maka YBhg Dato’ KP MSN telah memutuskan bahawa MSN akan menanggung perbelanjaan bagi 13 orang pegawai dan 18 orang pemain sahaja walaupun pihak PHM merayu untuk memberi pertimbangan untuk membawa dua (2) orang lagi pemain tambahan bersama pasukan.

2.3 Pecahan bilangan status pegawai dan pemain hoki tersebut seperti berikut :

a) Pengurus Pasukan = 1 orang
b) Jurulatih (termasuk Konsultan) = 4 orang
c) Pegawai Sokongan Pasukan :
i) Doktor Pasukan = 1 orang
ii) Pembantu Perubatan = 1 orang
iii) Tukang Urut = 2 orang
iv) Pegawai Pemakanan = 1 orang
v) Chef (sediakan makanan halal) = 2 orang
vi) Pegawai analisis sukan = 1 orang
d) Pemain = 18 orang
(Untuk pendaftaran pasukan ialah 18 orang tetapi hanya 16 orang
pemain sahaja dibenarkan untuk berada di ‘bench’ pasukan semasa

2.4 Pihak PHM juga telah memohon kepada MSN untuk mendapatkan 2 orang Tukang Urut bagi membantu pemain dari segi pemulihan keletihan (fatigue recovery) manakala pihak Institut Sukan Negara (ISN) telah mencadangkan 2 orang Chef bagi membantu menyediakan makanan yang halal kepada pasukan terutamanya untuk para pemain. Ini kerana tukang urut amat diperlukan untuk kebaikan atlet ekoran jadual perlawanan yang padat manakala chef pula disenaraikan atas sebab sukar untuk mendapat makanan masakan halal di Jepun. Pegawai analisis sukan pula ditugaskan untuk kepentingan pasukan untuk merakamkan video aksi lawan untuk tujuan perancangan taktikal dan strategi pasukan. Segala rasional (jusitifikasi) untuk membawa pegawai dan pemain telah dibincangkan dengan lebih lanjut dalam Mesyuarat JKK bil.01/2008 dan keputusan bersama telah dicapai untuk membenarkan pegawai-pegawai berkenaan turut serta bersama pasukan.

2.5 Pihak MSN bersetuju untuk menanggung perbelanjaan (bagi 13 pegawai dan 18 pemain) seperti tambang kapal terbang, penginapan, makan dan air minuman sahaja yang disediakan untuk pasukan. Kadar penginapan yang dikenakan di hotel rasmi yang disediakan oleh Persatuan Hoki Jepun ialah USD 110 (bersamaan RM 357.50) sehari seorang. Kadar ini merupakan kadar yang sama dikenakan kepada kesemua pasukan yang bertanding di kejohanan ini. Kesemua perbelanjaan yang ditanggung oleh MSN untuk skuad berkenaan ialah RM367,560.00

2.6 Sebagai makluman tambahan, Pasukan Hoki Jerman yang terdiri dari 12 orang Pegawai (1 Pengurus Pasukan, 4 Jurulatih, 7 Pegawai Sokongan) dan 18 orang pemain telah tiba pada 29hb Mac 2008 dan menginap lebih awal dari pasukan-pasukan lain. Kehadiran awal pasukan ini diputuskan oleh pengurusan pasukan Jerman yang beranggapan bahawa setiap pemain perlu menyesuaikan diri dengan keadaan padang yang teruk dan licin serta keadaan cuaca yang sejuk sepanjang tempoh menginap di Jepun. Kos perbelanjaan pasukan ini yang dianggarkan kira-kira RM 408, 825.00 (bersamaan Euro 85, 200.00) bagi tempoh penginapan mulai dari 29hb Mac hingga 14hb April 2008.

Disediakan oleh :

En Arrifin Mohd Ghani
Pengarah Cawangan Elit, MSN

Dikeluarkan oleh:
Unit Perhubungan Awam
Majlis Sukan Negara Malaysia
Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur

Our Olympic torchbearers

There will be 80 torchbearers in the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay KL edition on Monday.

The first runner is Angkawasan Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustapha. DYMM Sultan Azlan Shah gets the privilege as the final runner.

Memories of my first and only Olympics (in Athens 2004) come flooding back. Ah...I remember the contingent's audience with DYMM Sultan Azlan inside the Games Village. Getting into the Village was already a stress-inducing exercise.

I shall start a series on the Olympic Games, if I have the time. Must start scanning some pictures lah, especially those of NST's Lazarus Rokk and sprinter Frankie Fredericks, Rokk getting his bearings wrong, BH's Badrulhisham Othman's long hair, Greek girls...

But before that, the Torch Relay. Let's hope the pro-Tibet protesters did not find their way here

The ties that bind

The Star carried a report on the Olympic Torch Relay on April 16 and one of the personalities featured was former Malaysian Ambassador to China, Datuk Abdul Majid Khan."

Datuk Majid (picture courtesy of the Star) is the son of the late Ahmad Khan, a respected community leader in Kluang, Johor. A road in Kluang was named after him in honour of his immense contribution to the place I used to call kampung. Just google Ahmad Khan.

Then google Aziz Awab, also another respected community leader and Umno grassroot stalwart back in the old days, when leaders were short on cash but long in integrity. Arwah Atok Aziz was my maternal grandfather.

Atok Aziz was a voracious reader. After his death in 1983, I discovered a treasure trove in his bedroom, a cupboard full of magazines, mainly local publications on entertainment, politics and sports. I still have a few copies of Atok's Dunia Sukan, the No 1 local sports magazine in the 1970s.

Born in Merlimau, Malacca, Atok Aziz was a footballer, up to a certain level, I guess. Though he was just a taxi driver, Atok Aziz was equally comfortable in the company of Kings and the commoner.

He rose to become president of the Persatuan Pemandu Teksi Kluang, a councillor of the Majlis Daerah Kluang Utara and helped establish Syarikat Gunung Lambak.

And he was also a stringer for Utusan Malaysia.

When he became the founding chief of the Umno Bunga Raya branch at Kampung Melayu, Atok Aziz's No 2 was renowned writer Ismail Zam Zam.

Atok Aziz would have been out of place in today's Umno. He would have not been able to fathom the extravagance of Azalina Othman Said, a daughter of former Director General of Kemas, I'm sure.

Hanya Allah membalas jasa Atok. Al-Fatihah

Friday, April 18, 2008

Intercontinental Cup - a 10-day spectacle

The Intercontinental Cup next month is set to be a dress rehearsal for three nations bound for the Olympic Games in Beijing in August.

Nigeria, the 1996 gold medallists, Argentina, 2004 winners and Australia are among eight nations for the Cup which was launched at the Palace of Golden Horses this evening.

I personally would love to see the stars of the 2010 World Cup, here, in the flesh, before the rest of the world do so.

Some of them are already familiar to us, namely Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero but I don't think coach Sergio Batista, who was a water carrier in the 1986 World Cup winning squad, has the luxury of picking his European-based stars.

Watch out for Nigeria, who are coached by their 1994 World Cup left flanker, Samson Siasia. Let's see whether they have what it takes to be a Samson among the giants.

This is from the FAM website,

KUALA LUMPUR (April 18, 2008) - A new football tournament that brings together a mixed pot of talent from the various continents comes into being next month.

Called the invitational Intercontinental Cup to be staged in Kuala Lumpur on May 15-25, the eight-nation tournament promises to be a 10-day football spectacle, featuring the stars of tomorrow, today.

Born of an intense passion and love for the game, the Cup is an avenue for teams bound for the Beijing Olympics to fine-tune their preparations.

In Olympic terms, Argentina, Nigeria and Australia are footballing giants who stand an equal chance of mounting the podium in Beijing.

The world would then be watching the Intercontinental Cup with bated breath. Co-incidentally the draw of the Olympic Games will beheld on Sunday, just two days after today’s launch.

Today Argentina were drawn in Group B of the Intercontinental Cup with the likes of Croatia, Ghana and Australia, certainly the Group of death for the inaugural event. Hosts Malaysia will do battle with Iraq, Rep of Ireland and Nigeria in Group A.

The Intercontinental Cup is promoted and financed by renowned player in the global stage, Octagon, with the co-operation of FA of Malaysia as the organisers.

Octagon UK head of football Phil Carling said he was happy to organise a tournament in Kuala Lumpur considering the nation’s passion and devotion for the game.

“The game of football transcends ethnic, linguistic, social and economic boundaries. Its greatest asset is its simplicity and its language instantly understood anywhere.

“We hope by having this tournament here, it will add to the momentum of making Malaysia and Asia the developmental focus of the next millennium,” said Carling.

FA of Malaysia general secretary Lt Jen (Rtd) Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad believed Malaysia has the infrastructure, the facilities and the human capital to make the event a resounding success.

“On the pitch, it also gives the national Under-23 side much-needed exposure ahead of the Tiger Cup in December,” said Datuk Azzuddin.

Argentina, the Athens 2004 gold medallists with an impeccable track record in age group football, shall start as favourites to retain the gold in Beijing.

Having his resources scattered worldwide, Argentina Olympic coach Sergio Batista can call upon starlets Lionel Messi, Fernando Gago, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero to don the Albicelestes.

Malaysian fans may bear witness to Batista’s homegrown talent such as Jonathan Maidana, Damian Escudero, Augusto Fernadez, Gabriel Paletta, Alejandro Gomez or emerging talents already based in Europe like Ezequiel Garay, Emiliano Insua, Franco Di Santo and Lucas Biglia.

Australia or the Olyroos boast of a number of talented youngsters, including Matthew Spiranovic of Nurnberg, James Wesolowski, Adrian Leijer, Adam Federici, Neil Kilkenny and Dario Vidosic.

Graham Arnold’s squad will have a camp in Australia early in May before jetting off to Malaysia. Five weeks ago, the Olyroos drew 1-1 with Mexico in front of a 40,000 crowd in San Francisco.

These matches continue an impressive match schedule for the Olyroos who qualified for the Olympics with a 1-1 draw in Pyongyang, North Korea last November.

With Danny Vukovic unlikely to play at the Olympics, Arnold may use the Kuala Lumpur stint as an opportunity to have a look at Liverpool’s promising reserve team goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis.

The Nigerian Olympic squad are already dubbed Dream Team IV, illustrating the nation’s high expectations of Samson Siasia’s disciples.

The Flying Eagles became the final team to earn a ticket to Beijing but are likely to be the most charismatic of the African representatives.

With the 2005 World Youth Championship runners-up team forming the nucleus of Siasia’s soldiers, Nigeria seem on course to repeat the golden effort of the 1996 generation that boasted Nwankwo Kanu.

Everton striker Victor Anichebe and Olympique Marseille’s Taye Taiwo are the pick of the current crop.

Siasia who guided his team to the African Youth Championship and later the World Youth Championship runners-up in 2005, has already been linked to the hotseat at Bolton Wanderers.

The matches will be played at the KLFA Stadium in Cheras and the MBPJ Stadium in Petaling Jaya.

Tickets for the preliminary rounds will be priced at RM10 and RM15 for the terrace and grandstand respectively. For the semis stage onwards the tickets will cost RM15 and RM30.

Royal command

DYMM Sultan Pahang, Sultan Ahmad Shah, has advised the FA of Selangor to let the due process of law to take place pertaining to the FAM disciplinary committee's harsh decision to dock three points of the Red Giants over the controversial walk out of four players from the recent Ian Rush clinic.

A little bird from London told me the Sultan wants FAS to lodge an appeal to the FAM appeals committee headed by former Pahang Deputy Menteri Besar, Datuk Aziz Abdul Rahman.

FAS have 14 days to appeal. The punishment was imposed on April 10.

On Thursday, Sultan Ahmad Shah paid a visit to Chelsea's training facilities at Cobham, outside London. The Sultan was given a briefing on the facilities available, apart from visiting two Malaysians currently attached to the Chelsea youth team, Bunyamin Umar (UPB-MyTeam) and Baddrol Bakhtiar (Kedah).

Al-Fatihah, takziah and condolences to Irfan and family

A little bird broke the sad news that Perlis coach Irfan Bakti Abu Salim's wife passed away this morning in Kuantan.

Takziah kepada Tuan Haji Irfan sekeluarga.


Encik K - caught in the FAM DB controversy

According to its statutes, FA of Malaysia disciplinary board must be helmed by one of its council members. So is the deputy chairman.

The DB chairman is Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat, an independent council member. So there's no issue here. But his deputy is Kamaruddin Abdullah, a lawyer and not a council member of FAM.

For the uninitiated, Mr K is a member of Karl Weigang's 1980 Olympic squad that beat South Korea, Japan and the Philippines in the qualifiers.

A former Customs officer who then pursued a career as a legal eagle, Kamaruddin was one tough nut to crack as a defender.

I was told he was acted tough on Dollah Salleh and Co during the DB proceedings on on the controversial walk out of the four strikers from the Ian Rush clinic.

Sharing his sentiments was former FIFA referee, Datuk George Joseph, my fellow Johorean.

Were they bound simply by the guidelines and power point presented by the secretariat, with little regard for common sense?

And if Mr K's appointment is not valid, the decision to dock three points of Selangor, the fine imposed on FA of Selangor, Dollah and the four players can be declared null and void.

A letter from a hockey lover

I received an e-mail from an ex-colleague last night. Attached to it is this letter, which contains a number of valid points. There are also allegations made against a few people.

This is the letter, unedited...MHF and NSC should really take note!

Athens Olympics 2004 World Cup 2006 Beijing Olympics 2008
Egotistical MHF and Wrong Appointment of Coaches
NSC and MHF - Please Help!

Received an sms on Thursday 10 April 2008 from a hockey lover, he said Malaysia is down 4-3 to Italy and few minutes to play. I could not believe the news; I assume it is a typo error by the data entry personnel. But my friend checked again on the net and said is confirmed. Lucky Malaysia equalized in the 70th minutes to obtained one point from Italy, a pizza diet nation.

Could not believe it because of the following reasons:
1 Italy is ranked 37th and Malaysia 14th
2 Spent millions on the Malaysian team preparation till MHF is in debts of 1.71 millions.
3 Big Funding from NSC on the Coaches and Team.
4 Malaysian team played in an elite tournament i.e. Champions Trophy (Dec 2007) and also went to Australia (Feb/March 2008) for exposure.
5 Two years of preparation i.e. full time training (day in day out).
6 Lofty level of benefits – allowances, accommodation and food is free.
7 Foreign assistance – Goalkeeper Coach from Pakistan and Advisor from Germany.
8 Scientific training – Support from ISN on fitness and nutrition
9 Physiotherapy, Medical Officer and Masseurs for the team.

Based on the above, what have the other participating teams in the Qualifiers get and done prior to the Qualifiers? But still they managed to perform to certain level and got reasonable results in the tournament. What excuses do the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) and National Sports Council (NSC) have in their pockets or hats?

Played 6 games – 3 win, 2 draws and 1 lost. Scored 16 and let in 14 goals.

Does the above points justifies their achievement in their Olympic qualifiers in Japan. Even the blind and deaf but hockey lover would say that the team achieved is an illogical achievement based on the support and benefits.

The new MHF office bearers are almost 1 and ½ years old in the office. Most decision and policy made by certain quarters are “FLIP-FLOP”. Nothing is done based on merit and every decision is made on personal interest. The game of hockey is an ancillary to the arrogants. The Federation exists because of the game but due to ego of certain quarters think that they are bigger than the sport. They show and demonstrate their powers as though the game of hockey belongs to them.

They control most of the affiliates by giving a chance for the affiliates office bearers (President and Secretary) on a rotation basis to be the Team Manager of the Malaysian Hockey Team. This is done because of their future votes in the BGM shall permit these bigheaded office bearers to sustain power in the office.

The members or appointees selected by MHF for various positions must have the following criteria’s:

1 Must be a bootlicker and must be a friend of the arrogants
2 Every decision is maneuver before a meeting – Decision made before discussing in the meeting. Is like kangaroo courts!
3 Listen to the instruction and be a puppet master to the arrogants
4 Don’t worry whether you have the qualification to take up the post.
5 Enjoy the get together after every meeting – booze and makan sponsored by the arrogants and then claim from MHF.
6 Play the same tune or else you would be out of the system.

The Qualifiers in Japan, we heard that about 31 people went to the games to make sure the team performed at its very best – at least a seat in the Finals.

There were many officials from the Coaching team, Medical Team, Management team, Trainer, Cooks, Physiotherapist, Masseur, Video-man, NSC officials and others. Only missing link is Weatherman and Cheer Group – no allocation but NSC could consider including them in the next qualifiers, but make sure the cheerleaders are girls to stimulate the coaches and the team. No wonder the Organizers said the hotel rooms are fully booked and Gifu Government also mentioned that the turnover of tourist rise by 10% for the month of April…

The coaching department comprise of 4 members - 1 head coach, 2 assistant coaches and 1 Goalkeeper coach. MHF appointed a new assistant coach who hardly only played hockey at University or State level. No coaching background, surprisingly how did NSC allow to slip in this guy into the coaching setup and fully paid for his trip? The other coaches are appointed based on friendship and not on merit. To be a coach in the National setup you need be a friend of the arrogants and follow what they say. Don’t worry whether you are qualified or not and what was you past coaching credentials, all this is not an important yardstick for the evaluation of the appointment. The Coaching Chairman is just a dummy master who just chairs the meeting and endorsed the arrogants decision. The decisions are all made before the meeting. Poor old man! There were rumors that the current coaches have filed in for their salary increment to NSC. The revised salary asked around $15k to $21k. Don’t worry it is possible due to friendship policy between MHF and NSC. Can be done even failed to qualify…

There are two Mangers i.e. Manager and Stand-in Manager registered on the bench. But why MHF need to register two managers but only one manager was in action. What to do, just follow instruction. Everything is done based on what the arrogants feel is right. Whether the team needs one or two Manager is secondary “Mahu tolong kawan ma..”

Let’s go back to the Qualifiers result.

For sure they will be out due to Germany supremacy! But the question is how did the Malaysian team bowed out of the tournament. Not even securing a final seat, which was the MHF and NSC target.

For sure all the Media members under the friendship policy was also advised to play a low key and do a marketing job for the arrogants to keep on their posts. Tak payah risau, ada booze and makan waiting… Any MHF media jobs or tender can be considered.

After the tournament all the media members started their marketing gimmick to protect their friends by saying keep the same squad and coaches for long-term preparation. They perform accept for the third goal Japan scored? This goal is used as a deflection of the actual fact of the failure. The arrogants and friendship media members need a reason to plot their failure. They forget about the overall summary results!

The MHF and NSC could do a through and accurate investigation on the whole set-up and see where it went wrong. But the media boys started to protect their friendship policy.

Failures are a familiar story for Malaysia hockey and are common for not making the cut! But the MHF and NSC would still retain the same coaching setup because of the existence of friendship policy between the arrogants of MHF and an official of NSC!

NSC needs to intervene because the funding is people’s money – taxpayers. The public needs to know what happened? Please drop this friendship policy in any decision-making, do the right thing based on the merits. NSC is holding the key to the door of the Malaysian hockey future direction.

If one has done crime, please arrest and punished, don’t allow the criminal to be free and continue to do more crime. NSC and MHF please arrest these criminals and punished! Tolong tangkap and masukkan dalam ISA!

If the same arrogants people are running the game of hockey, don’t have any hope for the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 Olympics. By then our ranking would be 30 to 40 in the World hockey.

But MHF has also created a history that the team has missed two Olympics in a row. Syabas and the officials of the Malaysia books of record, please dot down this fact into the records book. Don’t worry the third one is coming soon if this arrogants and the coaching setup remains.

It is very disturbing the way the coaches have asked the NSC to review their salaries and allowing a University coach to be in Japan is very annoying. Rather than paying these arrogants, please take this budget and appoint a foreign coach. We had Terry Walsh, Paul Lissek and others! Is Paul Lissek still around or gone back to Germany for good.

We need a surgeon i.e. foreign coach to curb the cancer that is Stage 2, need to operate and cut the affected area, which are the bigheaded officials and coaches. Please also do an electric shock wave on the dummy master to wake him up to appoint good coaches!
NSC and MHF should do chemotherapy on the cancer! Please get the independent parties to perform this exercise. If not the same patient is treating its own recovery method, which most of the Association does after a failure.

Please address this issue to save the standard of Malaysian hockey and the game we loved the most…

The Implication for not Qualifying:

1 Ranking now 14th to 20th (postulation) after Beijing Olympics. Drop too many points to sustain number 14th. Missed 2 Olympics and 1 World Cup.
2 The Sports Ministry may consider to revised from Category A to Category B sports.
3 No sufficient / allocation of funds for future exposure and oversea stint.
4 Future generation hockey players’ benefits jeopardize.
5 Top ranking teams (1 to 10) may not invite Malaysia to participate due to the poor standard of international hockey.
6 The interest of future generation to be involved in hockey looks very dim.

Oops! Forgot that the Alongs and Debt Collectors are looking for the treasurer of MHF to settle the debts. Especially, the hotels and a restaurant owner where these arrogants have abused and misuse their powers during tournaments. More so these are public money that are sponsored by NSC and also Tenaga Nasional Bhd.

These arrogants have not even contributed any single penny but they behave as though the sponsored money is belongs to them and not the game.

Within 13 months the arrogants have raped the Federation and is in debts now. Their operating account is also freezed like the Qualifiers result.

Now they are searching for victims to bailout these debts. NSC please don’t bail them anymore…

To End. The hockey fraternity is in dilemma and heartbreaking for the state of hockey in this country.
The way forward…

Appoint several independent members (Former Coaches, Players and Administrators) with few NSC and MHF genuine officials who have an importance on this matter. The Chairperson shall be a reputable representative from NSC who has no any direct or indirect interest with regards to the game of hockey at any rank.

With this, an independent post-mortem with taking into account the “Game of Hockey” is a bigger agenda than these arrogants in the MHF setup.

If such remedial action is not taken by NSC and MHF, then we better forget in investing our support and time to the game of hockey that we loved most because of the:

“Egotistical MHF
Wrong Appointment of Coaches”

Thank you and all the best to NSC and MHF…