Monday, September 29, 2008

A legend, bed-ridden

NSC's Zaiton Othman (former Bionic girl) pays a visit to the bed-ridden Sidique
Sidique in his prime was famed for his crouching start
While we are busy preparing for Syawal, spare a thought and offer our prayers to Sidique Ali Merican, sprinter-turned-administrator who is bed-ridden.
Harian Metro carried this laporan Harian Metro on Sunday.

I interviewed Sidique a few years back for the Icon column in the old Malay Mail. Following is the story, for the benefit of the younger generation who do not have an inkling as to who Sidique is and his contributions to the country. For the life of me why is he not a Datuk?

HE was arguably the golden boy of athletics renowned for the crouching start in the early 50s. From champion sprinter to administrator, Sidique Ali Merican's name remains indelibly marked in the Malaysian sporting hall of fame.

Now undergoing rehabilitation after a stroke, Sidique speaks through his wife, Fatimah Shariff, to Mailsport's RIZAL HASHIM.

Mailsport: Can you tell us your background?

Sidique Ali Merican: I was born in Kota Baru although my parents hailed from Penang. Father Dr Ali Osman Merican uprooted the family from Penang to Kelantan to open a new clinic in Kota Baru. At first, I was more into football and rugby. Athletics as a sport then was as remotely developed as the State of Kelantan itself.

MS: So how did you start your athletics career?

SAM: Athletics did not really catch my fancy as races were carnival affairs then. If at all I was caught indulging in it, it would only have been restricted to running between the two goals of the Ismail English School grounds for me to keep fit. I discovered that I could run when I was drafted into my school team, in June 1949. Running barefooted, I clocked 10.3s in the 100 yards. From there on, several teachers recognised my good time and made arrangements for me to run in the first post-war Malayan Amateur Athletics Association championships two months later at the Selangor Club Padang.

MS: That was when your unorthodox starting position first made headlines?

SAM: Yes. I was basically untrained and did not know how to run properly. My start was like a bullock cart coming out of the mud. Instead of going down on my knees when the starter called "on your mark", I crouched at the start of every race. And it landed me into trouble with the starter. It was an experience I could not forget. We were all lined up for the start of the first heat and when the "on your mark" order was given, the other runners got on their knees. I was crouching nervously. Suddenly I noticed the starter was looking annoyingly in my direction and my stance. He seemed to be waiting for me to go down and when I did not, he called for a restart and asked me why I was not following the others. It must have truly surprised him when I said the crouch was my normal position. In the end, he allowed the race to proceed. Armed with a new pair of spikes bought from Singapore following the Kota Baru race, I clocked 10.0s flat in the 100 yards for a new Malayan record which stood until 1958. Later on, I discarded the crouch and took up the blocks which I felt at one time were not comfortable.

MS: How would you describe your first race outside Kelantan and the fact that you were wearing spikes for the first time en route to clocking a new national mark?

SAM: The day was exceptionally hot and my fellow finalists did not even know where I was from. The loud sound of the starter's gun held me back temporarily but I found myself leading the pack of six runners with Singapore's Tan Eng Yoon breathing down my neck. I then became aware of the spikes I was wearing. Eng Yoon and I hit the tape almost the same stride but I knew I had won. It was later announced over the public address system that I was first in a time of 10 seconds flat. I was extremely happy because I was the first Malayan to post the time and the feeling of being on top of the world could not be explained in words.

MS: Were there other moments that you cherished during your short stint as a sprinter?

SAM: Of course. I remember the 9.8s I registered in the 100 yards during the inter-varsity athletics championships in 1952. I was representing the Loughborough College and I beat my European rivals in the final.

MS: Disappointments?

SAM: A few, regrettably. I wanted so much to compete in the British Empire Games (forerunner of the Commonwealth Games) but I was not registered for trials because the Kelantan AAA officials did not turn up at the appointed place. They were watching a football match betweenTerengganu and Kelantan.

MS: When you were made the director of sports with the Sports Ministry in 1981, what was the main thrust of your tenure?

SAM: That we ought to increase mass participation in sports. The Sports Division then lacked credibility, no aims and targets and sense of direction. Then it was made clear that the Ministry became a promoter of sports for all and sports as a way of life, while the National Sports Council (NSC) focus on the elite programme. I made the call to utilise foreign technical experts to raise our standards.

MS: When I last spoke to you in 2001, you said Bukit Jalil in the 60s was full of starfruit trees.

SAM: Yes, it has certainly changed beyond recognition. It is now exclusively for sports ... I'm happy for that. I happened to be part ofthe team that identified Bukit Jalil as the location of the state-of-the-art National Sports Complex in the 1970s. A place where the elite high-performers and the masses could converge.
MS: Thank you for the interview. We pray for your speedy recovery.

SAM: Thank you.


Date/place of birth: Aug 24, 1930/Kota Baru

Family: Married to Fatimah Shariff, sons Dr Ezlan and Shazman

Honours: Malayan sprint champ 1949-1954

Career: Sports organiser of schools in Kelantan, assistant director of sports, director of sports, deputy chef-de-mission to the Montreal Olympic Games 1976, deputy chef-de-mission to the Edmonton CommonwealthGames 1978, organising secretary of the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games 1977, assistant secretary of Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM).

Farewell Ramadhan

Another holy month of Ramadhan has gone by.

It was around this time last year that I spent a few days in the Holy Land, accompanied by a corporate figure, a Government pensioner and a medical doctor, as we sought to wash away our major and minor sins in Makkah and Madinah as the guests of Allah.

When I reported back for duty at the Malay Mail, a mock-up of Page 1 with me on the cover was pasted on the wall at the sports desk. I knew instantly Zam the Penangite was behind it. I guess it was done in good spirits, for he appreciated the blessings one gets performing Umrah as he himself had completed the Haj years before.

The words were contributed by former Malaysian Sportswriter of the Year, Ian Augustine Pereira, hiding behind the pseudonym special correspondent, while the culprit who superimposed my picture alongside King of Jordan, King Abdullah, was no doubt Raven. As a self-styled French stooge as the blurb on top clearly pointed out, I took it home as a souvenir.

We bid farewell to the month of good manners, farewell to the month of generosity, farewell to the month of mercy. May Almighty Allah take mercy on us and grant us the opportunity to face Ramadhan yet for another year. Insya Allah, the blessings and grace of Allah (SWT) be bestowed upon you. Happy Eid Mubarak. Selamat Hari Raya Eidul-fitr. Ampun dan maaf dipinta.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Awi ke UK - bahagian kedua

Izinkan aku menukilkan catatan cukup peribadi kali ini. Sebagaimana aku ditugaskan membuat liputan terhadap Menteri Belia dan Sukan, bermula dengan Datuk Annuar Musa (kini Tan Sri), disusuli Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin, Datuk Abdul Ghani Osman dan Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, secara automatik aku memantau perkembangan Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

Dia dilantik sebagai wanita pertama menduduki kerusi itu sejurus selepas Pilihanraya Umum 2004. Namun tidak seperti ramai wartawan yang gelojoh cuba mendekatkan diri dengan YB Azalina dan konco-konconya apabila beliau dilantik oleh Pak Lah, aku lebih banyak melapor secara jauh. Aku mengambil pendekatan "detached view". Secara peribadi, aku menyanjung Azalina. Bagiku, beliau seorang wanita yang berani dan agresif, lebih kurang macam kakak aku (nama dia pun Lin). Aku dah "follow" banyak artikel mengenai Azalina, peguam yang peka dengan isu sejagat. Aku juga tidak ketinggalan menonton program bual bicara "Dateline" di ntv7 yang dihos oleh Azalina dan YB Khairy Jamaluddin genap 10 tahun lalu ketika negara dilanda demam reformasi. Harapan terhadap Azalina untuk berbuat sesuatu dalam sukan cukup tinggi.

Azalina tidak mengenali aku secara peribadi. Bahkan ketika beliau membuat lawatan sambil belajar ke Sukan Olimpik Athens sambil ditemani setiausaha akhbarnya, Adlin M Zabri, aku tahu beliau tidak kenal aku siapa. Aku lihat Azalina agresif dan cuba membawa perubahan. Bekas juara pecut Asia, Datuk Dr M. Jegathesan, berasakan beliau menteri yang boleh "effect changes".

Sahabat aku Satwant Singh Dhaliwal, yang banyak membuat liputan sepanjang khidmat Hishammuddin, dilantik menjadi pembantu khas Azalina. "Bagus" detik hatiku. "Senang dapat cerita, dan ada access to pejabat menteri".

Aku mula berasa curiga apabila dalam satu pertemuan dengan wartawan Malaysia yang membuat liputan di Athens, Azalina menjual idea melantik CEO untuk Majlis Sukan Negara (MSN). Bagi aku, itu tidak perlu. Macam badan berkanun lain, MSN ditubuhkan mengikut akta. Akta MSN 1971 yang dibentangkan oleh Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah. Aku sudah dapat bau agenda "certain quarters". Aku dapat tahu pihak tertentu mahu meletak seorang bekas pemegang jawatan di Persatuan Taekwondo Malaysia (MTA) sebagai CEO.

Kegagalan kontinjen negara membawa pulang sebarang pingat membuka ruang kepada Azalina untuk "effect changes". Datuk Seri Ibrahim Saad, yang dipanggil "Uncle" oleh Azalina, dan Muralee Menon, bekas CEO Paya Indah Wetlands, dilantik mengganggotai panel siasatan mencari punca kegagalan kontinjen Malaysia.

Dalam laporan mereka, MSN dilihat gagal. Maka bermulalah usaha "memporak-perandakan" MSN. Bagi mereka yang tahu kedudukan kewangan MSN, agensi kerajaan ini adalah "cash cow".

Bagi mencari sebarang salah laku Ketua Pengarah MSN, Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad, satu audit diadakan. Mereka yang dilihat sebagai "orang kuat" Mazlan diketepikan secara perlahan. Antaranya Ahmad Shapawi Ismail (gambar), yang menyambut hari lahir ke-45 hari ini (selamat menyambut ulang tahun, semoga murah rezeki dan diberkati dunia akhirat).

Pada awal 2005, aku dimaklumkan MSN akan membelanjakan RM500,000 sebulan untuk "membeli" iklan di akhbar Malaysian Today. Beli iklan? Dalam sebuah akhbar? Maka bermulalah perang aku dengan Azalina! Bersambung...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Now to win the war

Read Malay Mail's Haresh Deol's take on the failed coup d'etat in FAM here

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Royal endorsement

One would have thought Lt Jen (B) Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad's days as the FA of Malaysia general secretary were numbered following a series of articles portraying him in bad light was published by certain sections of the Press.

But as far as FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah is concerned, he has faith in Azzuddin. It's business as usual at FAM.

This is in contrast to the impression one gets after reading Harian Metro on Sept 19 (reproduced below)

BUAT pertama kalinya, Presiden Persatuan Bola Sepak Malaysia (FAM), Sultan Ahmad Shah (gambar) melahirkan rasa kecewanya yang tidak terhingga terhadap corak pentadbiran yang sedang diamalkan badan induk kebangsaan itu.

Pelbagai isu yang membelenggu FAM sejak kebelakangan ini ternyata mengundang resah di hati pemimpin tertinggi badan induk kebangsaan itu yang pantas mahu mendapatkan gambaran sebenarnya mengenai apa yang berlaku.

Justeru, satu pertemuan diatur dengan wakil Arena Metro di Istana Pahang di ibu negara dan sepanjang pertemuan berkenaan, beliau tidak putus-putus menyatakan rasa terkilannya.

Masalah hutang, komunikasi serta `sikap mesra media' yang ternyata semakin hilang di FAM tidak dapat diterima Sultan Ahmad Shah yang memang terkenal sebagai individu yang mudah mesra dengan rakyat jelata.

Beliau terkejut apabila mendapat tahu Setiausaha Agung FAM, Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad mengarahkan peguamnya untuk mengeluarkan surat tuntutan maaf berserta kos terhadap Harian Metro kerana menganggap artikel yang dikeluarkan akhbar ini pada 3 September lalu sebagai memalukannya.

Begitupun, selepas mendapat penerangan penuh serta jelas berhubung artikel berkenaan, Sultan Ahmad Shah, berkata bahawa perkara itu seharusnya tidak berakhir dengan soal membabitkan undang-undang.

"Saya tidak sangka ia akan sampai sejauh ini...memang saya kecewa dan kesal kerana ia berlaku. Saya tidak tahu-menahu mengenai perkara ini dan saya berjanji akan meneliti sendiri apa yang mengundang kepada kesilapan ini.

"Beliau adalah seorang pegawai yang dibayar gaji FAM untuk menjalankan tugas membabitkan pentadbiran. Saya sepatutnya tidak perlu campur tangan jika apa yang beliau lakukan ini dapat memuaskan hati pihak lain," katanya.

A little bird told me Azzuddin in the meeting with the Sultan prior to the FAM finance committee at Wisma FAM, the Kedah-born former left flanker had rebutted every single allegation in the memorandum handed by a group of dissatisfied stakeholders to the president through a third party.

Azzuddin has been told to put the matter to rest by the Sultan. His legal action against Harian Metro, however, is likely to proceed.

FAM President Assures No Change In Azzuddin's Position

PETALING JAYA, Sept 24 (Bernama) -- Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) President, Sultan Ahmad Shah today put to rest, rumours surrounding the status of Secretary-general Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad.

"He will continue as the Secretary-general. He met me and explained the situation in detail and I am satisfied.

"I have always been happy and satisfied with Azzuddin job since his appointment to the post and I hope it will continue," said Sultan Ahmad Shah at Wisma FAM Wednesday.

It was earlier reported that Sultan Ahmad Shah was unhappy with FAM's financial status, communications and media relationship.

"He (Azzuddin) should not be blamed unnecessarily. We must understand that everybody has his or her own style, including Azzuddin and I hope the media can accept the fact," he said.

Meanwhile, Azzuddin said he was happy and relieved that the president had listened to his explanation and accepted that the said allegations on him were not true.

"I put forward all evidence to proof that all such allegations were malicious lies and the president was very understanding and open minded," said Azzuddin.

"I personally do not agree that I am not media friendly but since some have such a perception, I will try harder to accommodate their wish."

He added that he would not consider any action on those who had hurled accusations at him that were not true but advised them to repent.

"The focus should be on how to develop football in the country and not go around spreading malicious lies on people," he said.


Following is the article which appeared in Harian Metro on Sept 3 that prompted Azzuddin to take a legal recourse.

KETIKA isu pemilihan Setiausaha Agung Persatuan Bola Sepak Malaysia (FAM) sedang sibuk diperkatakan tahun lalu, antara kriteria yang disebut-sebut ialah individu yang memegang jawatan berkenaan perlu `membaiki' hubungan badan induk kebangsaan itu dengan persatuan bola sepak (FA) negeri.

Pada masa itulah, Presiden FAM, Sultan Ahmad Shah berkenan melantik bekas Pengarah Risik Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (ATM), Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad untuk memegang jawatan itu dan yakin hubungan dengan FA negeri akan bertambah baik.

Begitupun, selepas hampir setahun bergelar Setiausaha Agung FAM, timbul pula cakap-cakap yang tidak begitu enak didengar dan hampir sebahagian besar wakil FA negeri bersetuju bahawa Azzuddin gagal menjalankan tugasnya.

Seorang sumber berkata, hubungan dengan FA negeri yang diharapkan dapat diperbaiki, tidak menjadi sebaliknya mereka kini terasa tidak dihargai langsung oleh badan induk kebangsaan itu.

"FA negeri berdepan masalah untuk berkomunikasi dengan Setiausaha Agung FAM. Itu yang mengecewakan kami. Itu belum lagi soal geran tahunan yang mana kami terpaksa merayu sebelum mendapat geran berkenaan.

"Paling mengecewakan apabila salah seorang wakil FA negeri yang menghubunginya untuk bertanyakan soal pembayaran, Azzuddin meminta pemanggil berkenaan untuk menghubungi penaja dan meminta bayaran itu," kata sumber itu.

Selain itu, sumber itu berkata, FA negeri juga masih kabur mengenai perlembagaan mana yang diguna pakai FAM ketika ini kerana ia kelihatan seperti badan induk kebangsaan itu menjadikan perlembagaan baru dan lama sebagai sandaran.

"FAM mendakwa perlembagaan baru sudah diluluskan Fifa tetapi selepas diselidik, FA negeri mendapat tahu bahawa Fifa hanya meluluskan peraturan pertandingan dan bukannya perlembagaan.

Perlembagaan sepatutnya perlu diluluskan oleh Pesuruhjaya Sukan. "Sebagai contoh, FA negeri bertindak mengikut perlembagaan lama tetapi di dalam laporan tahunan terbaru yang dikeluarkan FAM, jelas menunjukkan bahawa Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Disiplin, Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat sudah ditukarkan kepada Jawatankuasa Pemantau.

"Berdasarkan perlembagaan lama, perubahan itu adalah tidak sah dan sudah nyata FAM menggunakan perlembagaan baru di dalam membuat perubahan itu tetapi kami di FA negeri tidak mendapat sebarang salinan.

"Apa yang membimbangkan ialah mungkin timbul masalah di kemudian hari apabila berlakunya satu-satu masalah. Ketika itu, apakah perlembagaan yang akan diguna pakai oleh FAM," kata sumber itu lagi.

Sementara itu, Azzuddin ketika dihubungi enggan mengulas panjang dakwaan berkenaan dan berkata terpulanglah kepada mana-mana pihak untuk membuat anggapan terhadap apa yang berlaku itu.

"Itu terpulang kepada mereka. Sepanjang pengetahuan saya, FAM tidak pernah mengamalkan sistem `tutup pintu' kepada semua FA negeri. Semua pihak sentiasa diberi peluang untuk berbincang dengan kami.

"Bagi soal duit, saya tidak boleh memandai-mandai kerana itu semua bukan duit saya. Jadi, saya serahkan semua soal dakwaan ini kepada mereka dan terpulang kepada mereka untuk membuat tanggapan," katanya.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

MHF next stop for TM?

When Lazarus Rokk and Johnson Fernandez, two big names in sports journalism, introduced me to Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah (picture from university malaysia pahang) at the Darulmakmur Stadium more than a decade ago, I was struck by his down-to-earth persona.

Although I had covered him on the sidelines of various meetings at FA of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur as the sidekick for the likes of senior journalists like Badrulhisham Othman, Saodi Mat Atar, Rosli Safar, Norbakti Alias and Ahmad Khawari Isa, it was in Kuantan that I was formally introduced to the Tengku Mahkota.

Tengku Abdullah knew me by name, "Ah, awak yang selalu kutuk saya...macam-macam awak tulis."

I could sense that it was a remark made with no malice intended, but more like an ice-breaker.

After all what Tengku Abdullah said was true. When I was at Berita Harian, I was pro-player, coach and all technicians. I had little regard for officialdom and the policy-makers behind the scenes, but soon I discovered the dynamics in FAM and Tengku Abdullah's untiring effort to develop football.

Now, having quit FAM in the wake of the 2007 Asian Cup debacle, Tengku Abdullah is said to be interested in taking over the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF). Read here. But in my humble opinion, Tuanku, leave MHF be.

While some suggested for Tengku Abdullah to give it a try (he'll do no worse than Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim who is president for three or four national sports bodies) and provide leadership to an Olympic sport desperate for direction, I think the damage in MHF is virtually irrepairable.

However if you read Johnson's take here, could he be suggesting someone else rather than the top two incumbents - Tan Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor and Tunku Majid Sultan Iskandar - to run MHF? Will Tengku Abdullah enter the fray and force his brother in law out of the picture?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Git Kaur pleads not guilty

Former national artistic gymnast Kau Git Kaur has pleaded not guilty to the charge of submitting a false appeal letter for a salary raise. Read here.

Question is, whose salary raise did he appeal for? Git Kaur was a gold medallist in the Manila SEA Games in 1991 and is closely linked with the National Sports Council (NSC) by virtue of his position as gymnastics equipment supplier and also the official representative of the Chinese government on matters concerning the employment of Chinese coaches in Malaysia.

PC by the Sultan

The Sultan (right, seen here with Sports Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob) is scheduled to meet the Press at Wisma FAM at 3.30pm on Wednesday
FAM deputy president Khairy Jamaluddin (right) will be meeting the Sultan at 1.0pm
Writer or writers of the poison pen letters accused FAM assistant general secretary Saifuddin Abu Bakar (above) of causing the rift between the FAM and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), which is indeed laughable

Sultan of Pahang seldom conducts Press conferences on football. But the FA of Malaysia president is scheduled to have one at 3.30pm on Wednesday, possibly to touch on the spate of allegations hurled by a group of individuals against general secretary Lt Jen (B) Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad (left).

It's difficult to tell what's on Sultan Ahmad Shah's mind based on this Bernama report here but his deputy Khairy Jamaluddin is having an audience with the president at 1.0pm, before the FAM finance committee convenes at 2.30pm.

A group of individuals were granted an audience with the Sultan at Istana Pahang in Kuala Lumpur last Thursday, and they took the opportunity to list out Azzuddin's alleged misdemeanours as the head of the secretariat. By the same token, Azzuddin must be given a fair hearing. It is believed Azzuddin has the support of former FAM deputy president, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.

Bon voyage, Awi Part 1

The sports fraternity recently bade bon voyage to Ahmad Shapawi Ismail, a man considered the schemer, implementor, strategic thinker and one of Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad's most trusted lieutenants when the former was the director of international preparations at the National Sports Council (NSC).

The 45-year old Kuala Lumpur-born is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Sports Management in the United Kingdom.

It is likely that Awi's luggage contained lesung batu, among others

Thank you, Tan Sri

My family and I finally got a taste of laksa Sarawak during iftar recently, courtesy of former Sports Commissioner, Tan Sri Elyas Omar.

I remember writing an Open Letter to Tan Sri when I was still at the Malay Mail and the less than pleasant exchanges over the short text messaging system (SMS) on his decision to deregister the Malaysian Taekwondo Association (MTA), which I felt was forced upon him by the previous Sports Minister.

Tan Sri, who has had the distinction of holding office in football, badminton and cycling, is magnanimous enough to consider me as a friend, despite our differences in opinions on many issues.

Dah besar kepala?

Berita Harian hari ini mendedahkan kata-kata yang menarik daripada Rexy Mainaky. Baca di sini

Drama in FAM

Wisma FAM today is shaken by the news published by The New Straits Times. Is the Sultan of Pahang the real target or is the general secretary Lt Jen (B) Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad being made the scapegoat? Click A move to topple the Sultan

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sept 16 - D-Day for alleged perpetrator

Before the Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU) Disciplinary Board convene to decide the outcome of the molest case brought up against one of its officials, I suggest they go and dig up a report of sexual harrassment lodged by a former athlete at the Brickfields police station way back in 2005.

This is in light of the suggestion that the six athletes - Roslinda Samsu, Norjannah Hafiszah Jamaluddin, Tan Song Hwa, Yap Jen Tzan, Nurul Sarah Abdul Kadir and Siti Fatimah Mohamad - had lied when they signed and submitted a letter to the National Sports Council, implicating an MAAU official in a molest case against a Malaysian liaison officer during the Taiwan Open in May.

The MAAU president Datuk Shahidan Kassim had earlier said an internal investigation headed by MAAU Women's committee chairman Datuk Paduka Dr Mumtaz Jaafar was carried out, completed and submitted to him and that the five-member Disciplinary Board headed by Prof W.Y. Chin will deliberate and conclude their case by Sept 16.

I'm sure Mumtaz would have included the finding that one athlete had punched the same official in a junior tournament years ago after an alleged attempt of outraging her modesty. And also the athlete who lodged the report at Brickfields in 2005 had informed Mumtaz of the man's suggestive non-verbal behaviour.

Regardless of the outcome, the MAAU, or better still the NSC must look into appointing a chaperone to accompany the women athletes each time they travel overseas.

MSL gets new COO

The Malaysian Super League Sdn Bhd, the marketing arm of the FA of Malaysia (FAM), has a new chief operating officer (COO). He is Kuhan Foo.

Kuhan was previously general manager of Havas Sports Malaysia. Prior to joining Havas Sports Malaysia, Kuhan was a consultant to AirAsia where he created their sports marketing programme for their Manchester United sponsorship and other sports related projects.

The 39-year old former sprinter was also the former Head of Operations and Head of licensing & merchandising at Total Sports Asia, where he also ran the Events, PR and Marketing departments.

He has led teams running events as varied as World Wrestling Entertainment’s Asian Tours, The Kuala Lumpur and Singapore Marathons, IKF World Title Kickboxing Championships, Asian Badminton Championships and also various outdoor adventure races such as the Mild Seven Outdoor Quests. Previously, he also worked for Reebok, Nike and Fila. He replaces my former colleague at the Malay Mail, Mr Satwant Singh Dhaliwal, or better known through his byline S.S Dhaliwal.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Malaysian in Brazil

Badrul Hisham

Malaysia will be represented in the futsal FIFA World Cup in Brazil on Sept 30-Oct 19…Wishful thinking eh?

Well, the Malaysian team may not have qualified for the finals but our representative comes in the form of referee Badrul Hisham Kalam.

It is a historic occasion because Badrul is the first Malaysian to be accorded the honour. Out of 32 referees, seven are from Asia, three from Africa, five from Central and North America, eight from Latin America and eight from Europe plus one from Oceania. (Badrul is not the first. As abang_manja pointed out, it was Nik Ahmad Yaakub, who officiated in the 1996 edition in Spain)

I wish him well and that Badrul, attached to the Armed Forces, passes the fitness test on Sept 24.

His track record is quite impressive.

He refereed the AFC Asian Championship final between Iran and Japan in Osaka in 2007, and has officiated in the Taiwan Invitational, the Asian Indoor games in Macau, the Korat SEA Games, the AFC Asian Championship in Uzbekistan in 2006. The latest assignment is another feather in his cap.

He will celebrate Eidul Fitr in Rio de Janeiro then.

Road to Africa part deux

My predictions for Match Day 2 of the FIFA World Cup 2010 qualifiers (selected matches). Believe me at your own peril...

Spain 3 Armenia 0

Croatia 2 England 0

France 0 Serbia 1 (Domenech to be sacked, replaced by Deschamps)

Italy 1 Georgia 0

Portugal 1 Denmark 2

Finland 1 Germany 3

Peru 1 Argentina 1

Brazil 2 Bolivia 1

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An emerging talent

If he keeps his feet firmly on terra firma, young midfielder Dhaanushan Raveenthiran will go places, surely.

During the recent Piala KPM Under-14 final (that's the Piala Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia or the Education Ministry Cup), Dhaanushan's two goals and his commanding presence in the engine room earned him the Most Valuable Player (MVP) title.

Understandably, he has been called up for duty under national Under-17 coach Ong Kim Swee. But wait a old is he?
He turned 13 a few months ago. But armed with the technique, composure and assuredness beyond his tender years, Dhaanushan has been fast-tracked into the older category.
Kim Swee had little hesitation in pencilling in the Klang lad's name in the squad, probably primed for the Asian Under-19 qualifiers next year.
"Dhaanushan is adapting himself well playing and training alongside physically superior colleagues," said the former Malacca, Sarawak and Sabah defender who played in the Hiroshima Asian Games in 1994.
Kim Swee happened to be the chief coach of TV3 reality programme Soccerkids shown ahead of the Euros in June, where Dhaanushan was one of those who impressed the panel of coaches. Since then Kim Swee has been keeping tabs on Dhaanushan's progress.

Born on February 18, 1995, Dhaanushan is currently attached to the Selangor football school at Seksyen 11 in Shah Alam but I suspect it would not be too long before he is enrolled at the Bukit Jalil Sports School, where the best young footballers in the country gather, train, play and travel together under the auspices of both the Education and Sports Ministries plus of course the FA of Malaysia.

Among those who had gone through the system are Perak keeper Nasril Nourdin, the Negri Sembilan twins Mohd Aidil Zafuan and Mohd Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak, Selangor's Safiq Rahim and Amirulhadi Zainal, Perlis' Ridzuan Othman and Johor FC's Nurul Azwan Roya.

Apart from impressing the Soccerkids selectors, Dhaanushan was a member of the Scomi MyKids team that pitched their tent at Manchester United last year. He was also skipper of the Yamaha Selection team coached by Razali Alias that competed in Vietnam last month.

Dhaanushan may have inherited his footballing genes from his father, Raveenthiran Sangaran, who used to play for Port Rangers.

"He has been picked for competitive games since he was 10, playing at district, State and national level. He has been playing in our house, breaking things and causing havoc since the age of four. We have high hopes on Dhaanushan to make the grade," said Raveenthiran.

My two sens? Dhaanushan must fly the nest. He must broaden his horizons and seek the opportunity to play outside Malaysia. Perhaps Raveenthiran can try speaking to former FA of Malaysia bigwigs, Datuk Paul Mony Samuel and Datuk Yap Nyim Keong. They have the contacts. Don't let Dhaanushan's talent go to waste. He is at the crucial age where people managing his talent must chart the right path for him.

Also read my take here Soccerkids on TV3 part deux

Mizuno Wave Run 2008

For running enthusiasts, mark October 19 in the calendar. The 10km Mizuno Wave Run, organised by Pacesetters, will be held at Padang Merbok.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Advantage, ARL?

Someone comes under the spotlight

With Taman Equestrian Putrajaya as the backdrop

He's the same man who wanted to challenge Datuk Jamaluddin Jarjis for the Equestrian Association of Malaysia presidency in July but the latter managed to adjourn the meeting without presenting the association's 2007 accounts

But here Datuk Abdul Razak Latiff entertains question from the Press on issues concerning tennis

Tennis could sneak its way back into the Malaysia Games (Sukma), judging from Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia (LTAM) president Datuk Abdul Razak Latiff's statement to the Press shortly after the breaking of fast at Putrajaya tonight.

The Selangor-born self-made corporate figure, who carved a reputation as a turnaround manager long before the term became fashionable, sees the glass half full after a meeting with Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, shortly before Ramadhan.

National coach Rahizam Ramli raised several interesting points in Malay Mail here last month.

Having succeeded in stirring interest back into tennis, Abdul Razak is interested in getting into the EAM saddle. Unfortunately he was involved in a tense argument with the EAM incumbents in July. Read here.

Also Malay Mail ran this piece.

Sexy girls in black corsets and leather boots, a RM2 million grant, a furious chairman and an attempted revolt.

The 2008 Equestrian Association of Malaysia (EAM) Annual General Meeting yesterday had it all.

Just minutes after being promised a RM2 million grant for a five-year development plan by Sports Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob, EAM president Datuk Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis adjourned the AGM after failing to take control the situation.

Jamaluddin, a friend of Ismail since their involvement in politics in Pahang, stormed out of the meeting over a dispute on the interpretation of the nomination for the 2008 office bearers.

"I will seek the opinion of the Sports Commissioner on the matter," said Jamaluddin, after walking out of the hall.

Prior to the meeting, Ismail was invited to officiate the opening of the AGM. The minister was led into the hall by four sexy ladies. The dispute started when Datuk Abdul Razak Latiff, a Bukit Kiara Equestrian Park member and a potential candidate for the president's post, questioned the exclusion of the nomination of two office bearers.

Azizah Abdullah and Zahidi Ma'mor's nominations for secretary and treasurer's post respectively were not entertained as they were registered under the Putrajaya Equestrian Park- which is not affliated to EAM.

The Royal Terengganu Endurance Stables backed Azizah and Zahidi. However, their nominations were not considered and this caused many members to voice their displeasure over the decision.

"If things get out of hand, then the members might consider a vote of no confidence against the president," said Abdul Razak. The members were also denied a separate meeting on the vote of no confidence as Jamaluddin instructed them to leave the hall.

Interestingly, it is not clearly stated in EAM's constitution on the eligibility of a candidate for the post. But when there is a doubt, the committee has the power to decide on the best action.

Yet, Jamaluddin saw it fit to adjourn the meeting.

"We have to abide to the basic laws of the constitution that a non-member cannot take position as an office bearer. However, I admit it is not clearly stated in our constitution but the present committee have to make thhe best decision," said EAM secretary Lau Choo Sing.

Also in question was the tabling of the 2007 accounts which was not presented at the AGM. However, the members uninamously agree to have another meeting to vet the 2007 accounts.
To study both sides of the coin, go to and click on the forum section.

Since JJ had uttered the remark, it will not come as a surprise if the Sports Commissioner Datuk Nik Mahmud Nik Yusof starts to nit-pick LTAM instead of investigating EAM. When the Prime Minister ordered his Ministers to relinquish their positions in sports bodies with immediate effect in August last year, JJ did not do so. He defied PM's orders. Conveniently for JJ, he was not re-appointed into the Cabinet after the political tsunami on March 8.

Abdul Razak is known as ARL among his friends. He is the founder of ARL group of companies which focuses primarily on power generation, oil and energy sector, information communication technology (ICT), leisure and competitive sports management.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I hate the collar

Less than a year after introducing their new jersey (top), France unveiled a new strip ahead of their friendly match against Sweden last month (above). I guess Raymond Domenech wanted to exorcise the demons of the recent Euros. Les Bleus beat the Swedes 3-2, for the record. The road to South Africa begins later tonight and my predictions for selected matches are:
Andorra 0 England 2
Austria 0 France 1
Argentina 2 Paraguay 1
Liechtenstein 0 Germany 4
Spain 1 Bosnia 1
Chile 2 Brazil 1

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Al-Fatihah - Pak Samad - Apr 24 (18)-1925-Sept 4, 2008

The nation mourns the demise of a true nationalist, Pak Samad Ismail. Read the citation on the recipient of the 1994 Ramon Magsaysay award at rockybru2 here. My condolences to Pak Samad's family, especially Kak Ena. Al-Fatihah.


Personally I never had the chance of getting the privilege of a four-eyed meeting with Pak Samad. What I do know about Pak Samad was mostly through reading pleasures and stories related to me by those who have had the good fortune of working under him.

Through a book called Wajah, written by Baha Zain, Safian Hussain, Sarah Sadon and A.M. Thani and published in 1981, I discovered Pak Samad was incarcerated under the ISA for allegedly being involved in subversive elements only three weeks after he was conferred the Pejuang Sastera title and RM10,000 tthat went with it in May 1976.

An icon has passed away. It marked the passing of an era for Malaysia.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Is it not obvious that Robani Hassan, the nation's top hurdler until Rayzam Shah Sofian burst into the scene with a gold medal in the Korat SEA Games last year, can hack it as an actor should he decide that he has had enough of MAAU's shenanigans? Picture courtesy of

Thanks Google

Thanks to google, Norman Siebel's daughter got in touch with me! Mel Robertson nee Siebel (right, flanked by her cousin Farah) dropped me an e-mail from the US in July. By August we had the good fortune of meeting up in Bangsar! This was the e-mail she sent me on July 23, 2008. Norman Siebel was the sports editor of the Straits Times in the 60s and based on his writings, certainly the paragon of sports journalism in the country.

Dear Rizal,

I read with interest your blog in April about SAM .. "Clash of the Titans." My Dad, Norman Siebel, was one of the co-founders. I'm presently trying to compile anything I can find on him. He passed away in 1969 when I was 6 years old, so at that time, naturally, I was unable to grasp much of the 'other' side of him....the one completely dedicated to excellence in sports reporting.

It is only as an adult that I've come to appreciate his style of writing and to try to find people who may have known him to grab a few quotes from them about him. I don't even know if you knew him, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask. I went to KL last year (I'm from Santa Cruz, California...!!) to the National Archives to find his, that was kinda hard !! The guy behind the counter took half an hour to get the articles I requested, and then he only brought out half of what I wanted.. I guess he had to run out to the warehouse to get the stuff. Very interesting, though. It is not mircofiched. All the newspapers still in their orignal versions, bound in large books. Wow. That wasn't the hardest part for me. I'd been gone from SE Asia for 25 years ... and negotiating catching a cab from the Archives back to the Concord Hotel was a bit of adventure.

Anyway, sorry for rambling. My Dad loved sports... I read his articles on Rudy Hartono and badminton while I was at the archives. I struggled to make copies by taking pictures, but it was rather laborious and perhaps this year in August (I'm flying out again !!) I can figure out a better way! PJ and KL have changed sooo much, I kinda got lost. They even renamed the streets. We used to live off Jalan Templer past the mosque, near that roundabout by the Uni.

If by chance you knew my dad, and can write a few things about him for my collection, it would be great. If not, I'm still thrilled to read your blog, you're the kind of guy Norman Siebel would have had on his team in a heartbeat. Thanks for your articles !!


Mel Robertson nee Siebel

Book on bookies

Perak coach Steve Darby alerted me to the launch of this new book here. Thanks Steve. Now, will the contents of the book, said to be explosive, have an impact here?

Robinho look-alikes

Kajang-today (left) and Jack Sparrow claim to be experts of the English game. They say so because while kajang-today expresses his unbridled support for a team that is desperately clinging on to past glories (click here) , Sparrow claims his birthplace was Manchester, a city divided into two sections - the greater one light blue in colour and the lesser of the two, red. Sparrow made that claim shortly after Robinho's transfer from Bernabeu (it's pronounced Berna-bay-yo) to Manchester City was confirmed.

Malaysian Geordie

THERE are quite a number of Newcastle United fans in Malaysia, I reckon. If they were to form a fan club, surely they would settle in nicely into my Proton Iswara. Likewise for Stoke City fans.

But the latest development in Tyneside read here has left one fan in particular, Khairul Khalid, so peeved that he has ditched his team in order to attend to his new passion - selling kids' apparel. Khairul, an old boy of Victoria Institution (I don't know what's so special about the school), has his own showroom (above) in Bangsar.

While pining for the return of the moments of yore, when Monsieur Ginola, Peter Beardsley and Faustino Asprilla would treat high octane matches like a walk in the park at the St James' Park, Khairul consoles himself every weekend at the Mont Kiara flea market. You won't find Khairul giving up any of his Newcastle replica jerseys, though!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hurdles to overcome

This quartet have one thing in common - two of them are still active hurdlers, while the other two were hurdlers themselves before. (From left) 2006 Asian Games women's 400m hurdles bronze medallist, Noraseela Mohd Khalid, 2005 Manila SEA Games 110m hurdles gold medallist, Robani Hassan, Robani's coach Ithnin Mahadi, and his elder brother, Thalatha Mahadi.

Thalatha (left) was once one of the nation's top hurdlers. His rivalry with Hanapiah Nasir and Nasaruddin Mohd Nor in the 80s was quite legendary. When I was invited for a kenduri and Yassin recital at Ithnin's place last week, I did not recognise Thalatha. What I remembered most about the hurdler was his moustache and long hair. I asked Ithin, "Abang kau Thalatha mana?" "Ni ha..." pointing to Haji Thalatha who was standing right before me!

Malaysia is a nation of hurdlers. Underlining this claim is the list of hurdlers produced over the decades - Karu Selvaratnam, Ishtiaq Mobarak, Zulkifli Yatim, Hanapiah Nasir, Nur Herman Majid, Faiz Muhammad, Hassan Ayob, Badrulhisham Jamaluddin, Hamdi Jaafar, Robani and Rayzam Shah Sofian. In the women's section, who could forget Marina Chin in her heyday in the 70s, Moh Siew Wei and of course Noraseela in the 90s. I'm not too sure if this proud tradition will continue, not at the rate things are going.

Ithnin is bound for West London's Brunel University, which is one of four UK Athletics High Performance Centres (HiPACs), to pursue his Masters degree. HiPACs bring together sports medics, sports scientists, coaches and performance management staff under one roof to ensure the athletes have access to all the support and expertise they need on one site. Perhaps once he comes back, Ithnin can share with the Malaysian authorities on how to work together for the greater benefit of all.

Ithnin's highest accolade as a hurdler was a medal in the Asean Inter-University Games in 1992. Four years earlier he was chosen as Johor's Most Promising Sportsman in1988 for winning the Asean Schools meet.

His male siblings were all named after the day they were born, with Khamis leading the way, followed by Jumaat, Thalatha, Rabu, Ithnin and Sabtu. The sons of Mahadi Daud from Parit Limbong, Muar, were known for their prowess in the highly technical event.

Thalatha had a few words of wisdom to share with Robani and Noraseela, who felt they were given hurdles to overcome in their bid to qualify for the recently concluded Beijing Olympics.

The hurdles, I can tell you, come in the form of mortals running the national body, the Malaysian Athletics Amateur Union (MAAU). That's why former National Sports Council official Rasu Maniam used to joke the MAAU abbreviation stands for Many Are Against U!

Elements of sabotage?

ELEMENTS of sabotage, petty jealousy and sheer idiotic lunacy have made the International Athletics Association Federation's High Performance Training Centre (HPTC) Asia in Bukit Jalil a subject of debate between two warring factions in the domestic track and field scene.

It calls for a strong sense of direction from the top leadership of the Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU) but I don't think it will happen. While one party accuses the other that no local athletes were given the right to train at the centre, the other party has gathered enough evidence of sabotage designed to undermine the Centre. Read here

HPTC Asia was originally based in Bangkok. The move to shift the HPTC from Bangkok to Bukit Jalil began as early as 2002, when Datuk Danyal Balagopal Abdullah inspected the site. The mission was finally completed when track and field's international governing body IAAF declared KL as the winner in April 2005.

In October 2004, I wrote this piece for Mailsport.

IF Lady Luck smiles at us, Malaysia may well become the hub for future Olympians from track and field in Asia.

Kuala Lumpur, along with Pune, India, are the candidates to replace Thailand as International Association of Athletics Federation's (IAAF) High Performance Training Centre (HPTC) in Asia and the seventh overall throughout the world.

And if the IAAF development commission favour Bukit Jalil ahead of Pune when they convene to decide the venue in December, the centre could start operating next January. The first HPTC was opened by the IAAF in 1997. Since then the body have expanded the programme by establishing centres in Africa, South America, Oceania and the Caribbean.

The centres are located in Eldoret (Kenya), which specialises in jumping, Dakar (Senegal, sprints, horizontal and jumps), Kingston (Jamaica, sprint and hurdles), Mauritius (all events), Auckland (Oceania, all events) and Manaus (Brazil, all events).

IAAF's recognition of the centre in Thammasat University near Bangkok was cancelled early last year after AAAT, Thailand's athletics governing body, failed to adhere to certain conditions imposed by the international body.

In April 8, 2005, this article appeared in Mailsport.

"THE eagle has landed."

Using military jargon to describe International Association Athletics Federation (IAAF) decision to pick Kuala Lumpur as the Asian branch of the High Performance Training Centre (HPTC), Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU) deputy president Datuk Danyal Balagopal Abdullah broke the good news after IAAF development committee gave KL the nod ahead of Pune, India.

The unanimous decision by IAAF was made in their meeting in Doha, Qatar.

The benefits are aplenty, but ultimately, according to Danyal when contacted in Doha, it will raise the standard of Malaysian athletics, a sport which had been picked by the Government as one of eight core sports to be developed.

"Top Malaysian athletes will enjoy first-class coaching from IAAF-certified coaches. We intend to make KL HPTC a centre which specialises in high-intensity training in hurdles, horizontal and vertical jumps and middle-distance," said Danyal.

Credit is due to Danyal, MAAU president, Datuk Syed Mohamad Aidid Syed Murtaza and National Sports Council (NSC) director-general, Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad for convincing IAAF of KL's credentials.

Mazlan, in his weekly column in Metro Ahad last Sunday, revealed he had persuaded Syed Aidid, who had tendered his resignation as the MAAU president last month, to go to Doha to illustrate Malaysia's seriousness in getting the rights.

Syed Aidid's presence took India by surprise. It was earlier thought Asian AAA president, Suresh Kalmadi, would have thrown his weight around to ensure Pune's appointment but India were not represented at all in Doha.

Instead, Syed Aidid, Danyal and Mazlan spent the last 48 hours speaking to almost the entire committee to lobby for KL, firmly supported by Malik El-Hebel, who inspected the facilities at Bukit Jalil last year.

Danyal, meanwhile, initiated the whole idea of bringing the HPTC to Kuala Lumpur when he visited the HPTC in Bangkok in October 2002. And yesterday, the Inspector-General of the Navy crossed the finish line, so to speak, with the gold medal.

The HPTC in Bangkok which ceased operations last year specialised in providing high-intensity training for sprinters.

There are only six HPTCs in the world - one each in Brazil, Kenya, Jamaica, Mauritius and Senegal.

The Kenya HPTC in Eldoret emphasise on middle and long-distance training while Manaus in Brazil offers expertise in sprints, jumps, javelin and hammer.

So how does one gain entry to the HPTC? There are two ways - on merit or otherwise. The first option, on merit, is performance-based.

Athletes who qualify for training at HPTC are scholarship holders of the Olympic Solidarity Programme.

The second option is for the athlete to pay his way, either on private funding or through governmental or national assistance.

"As hosts, Malaysia will be granted some leeway to accommodate the entry of a certain number of athletes."


Single no Moh...

Picture flicked from

Former hurdler Moh Siew Wei is single no more. She tied the knot with long-time sweetheart and former pole vaulter Teh Weng Chang last Friday.

The Ipoh-born Siew Wei remains the 100m hurdles national record holder. That means she had gone faster than Marina Chin during the oh so glorious years of the 70s, when track and field was considered the nation's biggest source of pride after football.

Like most of her compatriots, Siew Wei quit the scene prematurely. So did her husband who is now a teacher at the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).

Track and field has lost its appeal long ago. The pool of talent continues to shrink as the protagonists in the Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union prefer to bicker and play politics than thinking of ways of developing the sport. What a shame.