Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bravo ! Mirnawan Nawawi

One of Malaysia's greatest hockey star, Mirnawan Nawawi was one of those in the forefront for wanting a change in MHF in 2008. He was involved with the 102 former hockey international group who petitioned to the various parties to stimulate changes in Malaysian hockey. Indeed as a key member, he apparently played a major role in the preparation and submission of the over 100 pages of the "road map" for the rejuvenation of Malaysian hockey. This was presented to the Sports Minister and MHF, who in the haste of the moment wanted it to be fully implemented. Nothing has happened since and like many other things, the document just gets buried with dust.

In the new MHF set-up, Mirnawan became a much wanted official. Firstly, he was nominated into the elite Wawasan Committee of MHF. This so called high powered supervisory and monitoring committee, is to ensure that MHF is heading in the right direction. Again, it seem that too has become a figment of someone's imagination and has not materialise in its role.

Thereafter, Mirnawan was appointed to MHF's Team Management Committee (TMC), chaired by his hometown friend, the Deputy President. The TMC is responsible for the appointment of the coaches and managers of the various national teams plus they look into the various aspects of the national teams. Indeed the conduct of the TMC has left a number of questions unanswered, drawing itself into controversy.

From the TMC, his services stretched by becoming the team manager of the national Under 16 team. Such is the popularity of Mirnawan that everyone wants him. Pity that Malaysia has only one "Mirnawan".

What Mirnawan did not appreciate as he extended his services to the various appointments in MHF, is the infringement of ethics and the positions of conflict. Sometimes the sheer enthusiasm makes one overlook the "means" and just focus on the end result. This would probably have been Mirnawan's style and approach . However good governance and accountability requires the aspect of the "means" to be of equal importance to that of the result. The "means" is essentially the policies and procedures that are drawn up to fulfill the Master Plan and its targets. Its is probably the absences of all these key ingredients in MHF that permits matters to be undertaken in an ad-hoc fashion.

What is good of Mirnawan, is, of late he has chosen to resign from the Wawasan Committee and the TMC. This way he has removed himself from positions of conflict and the infringement of ethics. He is now involved at the ground with the young boys, where he is at his best. Indeed what Mirnawan has done is something others must also follow, if they are honest in what they want to do for Malaysian hockey. These people have to take note that their presences in various positions would only go to "cloud" the issues and a "clear" vision would never materialise for the process of good decision making..

Well done Mirnawan Nawawi in being a professional in your thinking.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Stories that have been told on the search for a foreign hockey coach - Part 1: "The Korean entanglement"

The former chief national coach and his assistants were asked to vacate their positions in November 2008 and the story told was that a foreign coach was on the way to handle the national team. That coach was suppose to be a Korean, who was the national coach for China in the Beijing Olympic 2008. Indeed discussions with him apparently took place well before the Olympics and senior Malaysian sports officials had met with him at the Olympics to reinforce Malaysia's offer. Vested reports also speculated that he may come as a consultant while the then existing coaching arrangements shall remain.

While the understanding was reached with China's former national coach and prior to the contract execution, a former assistant of this coach made his way to Malaysia seeking coaching employment opportunity here. He is another Korean who had worked with China's former national coach, when he was the national coach for Korea for the Seoul 1988 Olympic. The national coach is a Patiala trained hockey coach while his assistant is more a "fitness" coach who picked up hockey coaching while assisting the training of the Korean national team.

Malaysians in their haste to impress others, readily extend their helping hands without realising the impact and consequences they would create, which itself may damage relationships and understandings. When the assistant coach from Korea wanted assistance, he approached a Malaysian friend, a former hockey official, who in turn provided the bio-data to a former national hockey captain, who dutifully delivered it to the newly elected Deputy President. The Deputy President apparently met the Korean and then referred the whole matter to a senior NSC official who is deeply involved with MHF. With the exception of the person who started the "ball rolling" i.e the former hockey official, the rests are what i refer to as the "Melaka Mafia" in Malaysian hockey. They all originate from Malacca. The coincidental aspect is, the "Melaka Mafia" went on to become members of the Team Management Committee (TMC) of MHF, which undertook the strangely questionable manner of appointing coaches and managers for the national teams.

What started as an innocent assistance exercise snowballed into something drastic that may have an impact on the future of Malaysian hockey. This Korean who was seeking coaching opportunity, broadcast his endeavours in Malaysia to Korea through the internet media. The story that emerged was he was offered the post of the national coach and the whole matter got "twisted" such that the former national coach for China was making it difficult for the other Korean to get the job. This portion of the "twisted news" did not go down well with the former national coach for China and in total disgust with Malaysian hockey, he unilaterally withdrew his understanding with Malaysian hockey administrators.

Not known to many in Malaysia was the estranged relationship between the 2 Koreans and the fact that they were "incommunicado" for a number of years. However this fact was known in Korea and therefore when the "twisted news" reached Korea, there was a different impression created i.e the "old wounds" had stated to bleed in Malaysia. The Koreans have a strict code of conduct especially overseas and they do not like Koreans fighting one another over things. The code requires one to give way to the other so as at least a Korean is successful rather than some others sneaking in. In this episode, it would seem that the former national coach of China was made to look like the "bad boy".

The Malaysian hockey administrators became desperate when they found out that China's former national coach withdrew his interest in becoming Malaysia's national coach. Apparently the desperation resulted in a meeting in Bangkok between the Malaysians and China's former national coach. It would seem he was not convinced by the Malaysians and that sealed Malaysia's fate of obtaining his services.

If the above story is a reflection of what had taken place, both NSC and MHF had acted very unprofessionally and probably had created a scenario that may not go down well among international coaches. Our past rash manner of dealing with foreign coaches like Terry Walsh, Volker Knapp and Paul Lissek does not give a good image among the international coaching fraternity and the episode with the Koreans only go to fortify that view. This aspect may come to haunt Malaysian hockey when we look for a good foreign coach. I believe we may already be paying the price.

Part 2 shall continue the journey of the story relating to the search for other foreign hockey coaches.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

RM 900,000 in debts, unable to pay the MHL prize money and the MHF stories continues as per the past.

Debts seem to be a normal part of life. If they were incurred for the benefit of sports, then there should not be much of complaints. However if the debts were incurred because of the fulfillment's of a person or a group people who exploited the situations, so as they would be able to do certain popular things, where the benefits maybe outweighed by costs, then the whole Committee must take responsibility.

Most of MHF debts came from the Champions League, which MHF gallantly and heroically volunteered to organise at the end of 2007, when conditions in Pakistan made it impossible for them to have the tournament there. I choose the words "gallantly" and "heroically" because the MHF Management then were eyeing for the Junior World Cup 2009 (JWC 2009) with Singapore as co-host and therefore MHF wanted to be seen as a "saviour" in FIH's eye.. Obviously, how does Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) fit into the "debt" equation.

The charming lady President of SHF also sits as Vice President of FIH and used to be close to the then lady President of FIH. The "saviour" act by Malaysia on the Champions League in 2007 became the "talking" basis for Malaysai to bid for the JWC 2009. To undertake the "talking", this influential SHF President also incorporated Singapore into the JWC 2009 and as such the co-hosting became the strategy. For SHF this was a major coup as this shall be the first time they are organising a world orientated field event (other than the F1) and Singapore shall automatically qualify for the tournament. Something SHF would not have dared to dream in the past and now Malaysia provided the right reason. What a "feather" to SHF President! I must state, what she did was perfectly legitimate and it is a great kudos to SHF and her for getting MHF to "buy" the idea. On the other side, the initial fame kept MHF going while the ultimate liability was being carved.

On the meantime, the then MHF greedy to display their international connections and organisational skills indulged lavishly into the Champions League. A total liability of RM 1.3 m was incurred ballooning the MHF debt to RM 1.7m. TNB the main sponsor of MHF, based on an annual allocation of RM 1.0 m was used to bring the debt down. The TNB monies meant for the MHL had found its path to settle some old debts, so much so the winners of 2008 MHL are still waiting for their money.

Therefore it is interesting to note when the current MHF apportions the blame on the RM 0.9m debt to the old MHF. They seem absolutely right except taking the current President and a Vice President the rest of the "old" MHF is the current MHF. Indeed even the former President is in the current MHF i.e in the Consultative Committee and also Chairman of the Organising Committee of the JWC 2009. Memories seem to be short-lived as the people who incurred the debts are attempting to "pass the buck". Of course some may say that it was done by a particular person and they were not part of it. Honestly that argument does not sell, as each and everyone is jointly and severally liable. The current MHF too cannot "pass the buck", as they were fully conversant of it, when they had to approve the financial statements at the last BGM.

I think MHF must stop the moans and groans and get down to settling the financial liabilities. The reasons cannot hold water anymore. One has to shoulder the responsibility and strive hard with policies and procedures that such things do not repeat in the future. Somehow, this aspect of it is still missing with the current MHF and therefore such incidents of incurring financial liability is awaiting to happen many more times to come too.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Aftermath of an election - "A cause for concern in Malaysian cricket".

My article on Saturday 14th February titled : "Hybrid" style of voting in MCA election creates "surprises" tantamounting to a "unity" Committee, had its fair share of comments. In that article i talked about the "floaters", who maneuvered their votes to determine the fate of a number of candidates. The so called "bloc" votes crumpled for certain positions, reflecting the strategy adopted by the "floaters". In the process a "unity" Committee was created. Many disbelieve that this is not by design but sheer coincidence, although i think otherwise.

Since the election various interested parties are doing their post-mortem. All these are unofficial but still many want to know who are the so called strategists and also the "floaters". The aspect of "floaters" in the main has been identified but the issue of strategists is still a questionable matter. People believe that the names "thrown" in and identified seem to give too much of credit for these people's intellect. This is where the aspect of "not by design" hypothesis has come into being.

While the jury is still deciding on that issue, the definite aspect is the "floaters". The belief is that 2 of the new office-bearers seem to be on the suspect list and I honestly believe life for them in cricket may not be easy. The opinion of a "sell out" seems to be the foundation of the prevailing discussions. The argument is that such people have literally been involved in the whole exercise of the "bloc" votes and yet for their own self interest purpose they seem to have ditched the line-up in the eleventh hour. Indeed, some indicate that they enjoyed the food, drinks and even accommodation on other peoples expense and then "dump" them. Is it proper for people to act like that? Where are the moral standards?

Some think that "the battle maybe over but the war is far from finished". If there is any truth to this then I am concerned that cricket at national level may suffer. Development, I am not too worried as there are 2 or 3 parties undertaking it, although in the main and nationwide it seem to be only a single party. It is the level of co-operation and understanding that can be achieved is going to be the key question.

What is going to come to haunt some of the office bearers is their past actions. The negative karmic influence may put them in an awkward positions and make it difficult to discharge their duties. More so if the person holds a key position and requires support. If such things do take place then the difference widens and the problem may be difficult to redeem.

Obviously if the new Committee has the strength and support, such issues are trivial matters. Like most human beings the issue of trust would always linger on with certain parties and that itself would make it a hazardous journey. It is essentially how the rebuilding process i.e "repairing the fences" is undertaken. If it is not addressed and swept under the carpet, a small "spark" may create a burning "inferno". It comes down to the leadership and what they want to do for the next 2 years. If they want to follow the past, I think we can bid farewell to Malaysian cricket now itself.

There is some form of "unity" Committee and how unified the rest can fall in, would determine the combined effort everyone puts in to allow Malaysian cricket to flourish. Can we forgive and forget and move forward? This is in the hands of the people who can make the difference.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

An unprecedented act by President of MHF

An unprecedented act by the TM in having a column in the Sunday Times about the first 3 months of his leadership in MHF. I call it unprecedented because no other President of any National Sports Association (NSAs) have done it. There were arguments that the TM's column was too general and they may be right. For me, the more important point is TM's willingness to pen his thoughts on paper and permitting the public at large to read about it. In fact what the TM has done is to permit hockey lovers and fans to become stakeholders of the game. Bravo TM !!!!!

While the TM had elaborated that he is new to the management of hockey, I have no doubt that he is learning fast. Just to remind the TM of his days in "DeTAS", which was a Pahang hockey outfit participating in the national league around the late 1980s. I still remember seeing the TM sitting at the bench with the other players and watching his team play. Interesting aspect was seeing him in shorts and t-shirt and talking with the players. Maybe that little indulgence must have given the taste for TM to look at the bigger picture of MHF.

Reviewing what the TM wrote, it is good to note a number of affiliates are getting back to the basics and having state league plus development. This is good for hockey and MHF should be proud of it and publicise the details. It would give the public a better sense of appreciation and also provide greater impetus to support the game. Indeed it was very frank of the TM to state that in his own home state he had to ensure the revival of the league and also getting young kids involved in the game. Here is the classic of "leadership by example".

As the TM noted it has been a busy 3 months and he is yet to meet either the Senior or Junior players. I hope he does that soon as they carry the "hopes" of the nation and in them we trust the the country's international hockey fate. The issue of fitness, smoking, late nights, including the aspects of the allegation of match fixing and the rehabilitation of injured players must be addressed. This is important and especially a "pep" talk by the TM. Indeed if the TM could host a dinner for the players, it would go a long way to give a boost to the players and display the support.

While I take it that it has been a busy 3 months for the TM, i hope he is given my article ".......and it is 3 months, the Report Card of MHF" dated 2nd February 2009 in this blog. He must have an independent assessment of what is happening in Malaysian hockey. It is to give the TM some in-depth information so as he could do the necessary things as he takes Malaysian hockey forward. I must state that we want Malaysian hockey to flourish and if TM can do it, WHY NOT?

Therefore in doing that Report Card, what i was trying to communicate is that there are substantial matters that need to be addressed and they all must be expeditiously done in the proper way. The Report Card is to assists MHF move in the right direction, if people choose to use it for that purpose. However, if people see it as a basis to criticise the MHF leadership, then I must say that the term "Report Card" has lost its original meaning.

A note of caution to MHF, that the next 3 to 4 months are critical. The various national teams shall be involved in a number of tournaments and their performance shall in a way be the "dip stick" of the standard of Malaysian hockey. It is not going to be the tour to Korea or Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy but the Asia Cup, not the 4 nation Junior tournament or tour to Europe but the Junior World Cup. As for the Under 16, it shall be their tournament in Hamburg and not their tour matches. This is the real test and whatever is written in the Report Card can be shredded if the teams come out with flying colours in their performance.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

"Hybrid" style of voting in MCA election creates "surprises" tantamounting to a "unity" Committee..

'Unity" talks had failed and on the eve of the MCA elections the "roll call" of the 2 contesting camps indicated a 24 votes for one side and 11 for the other. Mind you this was based on some form of commitments from the 9 incumbents and the 26 delegates from the 13 affiliates. As the beers and whisky was "put down" on the eve, there was a high level of confidence beaming out of one of the camps. The presences of most of the delegates at a pre-BGM probably gave sufficient comfort that all shall be going well the next day. The other camp on the meantime had used certain elder "statesmen" of cricket to talk to various incumbents and delegates to give them their support. These therefore meant that a selected few in the other camp had already been approached by the various emissaries. Yet ! some of them remained silent and continued as without giving any inclination of the approaches.

Quite honestly, there is nothing sinister in what was going on. A perfectly legitimate exercise and the onus is left with each individual who choose to join the "camp configuration", to judge for themselves, what they are going to do is morally right or wrong. Beyond that, really I feel there cannot be any critical comment on that strategy. A lesson that people must learn, is, whether you can trust delegates when they give you a commitment.

On Valentine's Day, at MCA premise in Kinara, the BGM commenced and there was enough confidence oozing from everyone. Nobody had any other notion except to come and vote on a "bloc" manner. However, between the pre-election meeting of one camp and the day of the election i.e about 12 hours a part, a strategy materialised among 4 + 1 personalities to use their combined 12 votes to determine who to be put in as office bearers. This I call the "floaters". They are part of the 24 votes but yet they quietly decided to "break away" and vote for candidates from the other camp. They hold the so called "swing" votes to determine the results. Incidentally, the equation of 4 + 1, represents the 4 who were at the pre-election meeting while the other, +1 was not at that meeting,.

Accordingly, the anticipated "clean sweep" of the elections backfired. The incumbent President, Tunku Imran won easily. Indeed i have been one of those who advocated that he should gracefully step down. I am proven wrong as the delegates wanted him to remain and it is a reflection of his support with the affiliates. Sadly, P Krishnasamy (PK) failed to retain his position as Deputy President and Dr Amarjeet Singh, a former national cricket captain easily won the post. With Tunku Imran and Dr Amarjeet in their respective positions, it seem to show that each "camp" is represented. Maybe the initial results seem to indicate a "subtle" arrangement for a "unity" team.

I feel sad, as PK had done a lot for MCA from the time he was Treasurer, where he extended his personal funds to keep MCA from being financially bankrupt. He personally financed a lot of players for their education and even got them employment. He helped MCA in the supervision during the construction of the cricket stadium including lately the "lighting" for day and night match. His organisational skills was best reflected in the 2006 3 Test nations one day international tournament and the Junior cricket World Cup. Nothing can be done except that there is no assurances that even if you do a good job you are guaranteed a place. A lesson that office bearers must take cognizance's .

For the 2 Vice Presidents, again the results reflect one from each camp. Mahinda Vallipuram, a former Vice President of MCA and who was not in the list of the past incumbents made a sensational comeback. Indeed, not many gave him a chance if bloc votes had prevailed. Affendi Stephens, the President of Sabah Cricket Association easily got the highest vote for this position. Affendi is a newcomer to MCA. Rosmanizam from Malaysian Malays failed to secure a position and this was the surprising aspect of the results. It seem that the "unity" line-up was still prevailing.

One of the "survivor" of various MCA elections is the former Executive Secretary, who served as Secretary and then in the last 2 years was the incumbent Vice President. This time C Sivanandan, wanted to return to his old post and easily won the post.

When it came to the "ordinary members", the 4 posts was shared by 2 from each camp, thereby reflecting the continuous spirit of "unity" i.e literally determined by the "floaters" who carried the 12 votes. They provided the swing of 6 to 12 votes that in a way brought a "unity" Committee.

While on the surface that maybe so but the so called camp that had the largest votes were the biggest losers. Effectively the "floaters" have removed any strong personality from their camp in the new Committee, thereby giving the other camp a greater control. Yes ! it is a "unity" Committee but controlled by one camp. After all in reality that is how organisations must be governed i.e with one clear cut leader.

Indeed whoever orchestrated this entire strategy must be congratulated. A scheme that achieved its purpose and still gave effective control to the appropriate party. Brilliant !!!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy - " Has MHF gone astray on this tournament".

The tournament had its humble beginnings in 1983 in Kuala Lumpur with 4 teams participating including Australia, India and Pakistan. It may give an impression of a Southern hemisphere tournament but it is not so. The first 3 tournaments were held every 2 years and countries like Spain, Germany, and South Korea joined to make it a world class event. Indeed it was granted officially FIH recognition and is in the calendar of FIH.

After 1987, the tournament was missing from the hockey "radar" screen for 4 years and reappeared in 1991, having India, Pakistan, South Korea, New Zealand and USSR. Again there was a 3 years lapse before the 5th Sultan Shah Trophy tournament was held in Penang in 1994. Since then it has been an annual tournament except for 1997. The teams participating from Asia tend to be Pakistan, India, South Korea and times Japan, while from Europe, usually it is Germany, Holland, Spain and at times England. Australia is a regular and occasionally it is New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina or Canada. Without any doubt Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy has been a premier tournament in Asia and one of the few that is accorded a high tournament status by FIH.

The tournament has come a long way and has evolved with time into a regular annual feature of world international hockey. At least once a year Malaysia gets its fair share of publicity in world hockey arena for hosting this tournament. World class teams make it a point to come and participate, more so as the Malaysian team itself was around the peripherals of their class. As our hockey standards dipped and our national team's performances became dismal, the tournament slowly became more a training ground for breeding new players in some of the top teams. This time, the top teams seem to be avoiding this tournament i.e Australia, Germany, Spain and South Korea. They have given their reasons but is it a good enough reason for them to skip participating in this tournament.

MHF, in their usual "gungo" style always give the impression that they could get good teams for the tournament. They have even extended invitation to Ireland too but without much success. With the exception of Pakistan the rests of the teams are ranked from 11th and below. India , New Zealand, Egypt and Malaysia are the other participants.

This year, it would seem MHF as Organiser, has by default turned the tournament to a "2 rated" event. None of the top 7 teams are coming and the replacing teams are even lower rank than Malaysia. Therefore, it would seem that the glamour of the event is being loss and the worrying aspect is whether this would set the basis for future years. If so, would Sultan Azlan Shah tournament suffer the same fate as Frank Renee tournament in India. This tournament seem to have disappeared from the hockey "radar" completely.

Indeed the time has come that MHF re-evaluate the tournament and determine what they should be doing or not doing in order to attract the top teams for the tournament. If MHF can seek these answers, then it would make matters easier to address and re-engineer the approach in organising this tournament. Some of the reasons MHF must check out are:

  1. Timing of invitation - Are we giving the teams ample invitation time so as they can put it into their own national calender? This means we must extend invitations 2 years ahead, thereby giving every party to do the needful. Some may suggest that this would be difficult for MHF. In its current state of affairs, i tend to agree but if MHF can get a 2 year calendar moving, which is essentially "planning" (as oppose to its ad-hoc operations) particularly as DYMM Sultan of Perak's birthday is known and having His Majesty's early consent can easily pave the way.

  2. Malaysia's poor world ranking - Sometimes top teams do not want to play with mediocre teams as it does not serve much of a purpose. Even if they do, it is part of a build up to another major tournament or as exposure for some of their new young players. The top teams plan their entire training process months and years ahead and they therefore are careful not to simply participate in a tournament that may be classified as "no real competition" for them. Obviously, if we can move to around the 10th ranking in the world, the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament would again become an interesting playing ground for the top teams.
  3. Equally, there are rumours that the invitations were done in such a manner that some of the teams that come to participate are of lower ranking. This would give the national team a good chance of doing well in the tournament, thereby creating a image that all is well with Malaysian hockey.

  4. Allegations of match fixing - Apparently the allegations of match fixing relating to the Malaysian players arose from the last Sultan Azlan Shah tournament. Sometimes the top teams shy away from coming to countries where they believe nothing is being done on such allegations. The reason being, if there is any truth to the matter, they do not want to be tainted or be in an environment where their players may be tempted by certain elements. So, the best solution is not to participate. This where it is important that MHF settles the matter urgently and do not allow it to linger. It does more harm by avoiding to address it. Maybe, the allegations may all be false accusations but the point is it must be officially addressed.

  5. Failure in seeking FIH assistance - This tournament is an official FIH sanctioned tournament. Usually, international governing bodies are very helpful to their affiliates. Similarly, if sufficient time was given and FIH assistance was sourced, i am sure they would be more than willing to help in getting the top teams. They cannot force any nations but they have their persuasive nature. The most important point is, whether we have the right people in MHF communicating with the right people in FIH in the right "frequency" and language.

Malaysian hockey is slipping and as that happens, even classic premier tournament like Sultan Azlan Shah tournament is also paying the price. Lets us not become organisers of 2nd rated tournament because of our own doings. It is important that MHF has a high powered "special committee" whose task is to organise 2010 and 2011 Sultan Azlan Shah tournaments and they must start their work from this tournament. What is important, is for MHF also to address the issues that is confronting them.

Monday, February 9, 2009

MCA - "What a great interest to be an office bearer".

36 people (including the same persons) are nominated to contest a number of positions in the coming MCA BGM elections. The post of President is a 3 cornered fight, while for Deputy President, there are 4 candidates. Every posts is "heavily" contested, thereby giving an impression that there is great interest and also the expression of democratic rights in MCA. Prima facie, all is right but deep down is there an agenda to the contest?

Unity talks have been going on a few weeks but one side was very demanding for the key positions and recommending names of people who do not have the time to even turn up to the cricket field. The issue of having the "right candidate for the appropriate post" was not the order of the day. The other party had names in their list that seem threatening to the opposite faction and therefore the seat allocation could not be sorted. Breakdown of "unity talks" meant that it is a free election but encompassing "camps" support. So, in a way the election is orchestrated, depending which camp carries the majority of the votes i.e affiliates.

There is no doubts as the day nears for election, there would be a number of candidates who may pull out realising that the whole election exercise may already have a pre-concluded results. This may also encourage a "last effort" unity talk to pave the way for a balanced representation in MCA i.e avoiding winner take all concept. Such situation may not arise unless the incumbent President withdraws and bargains for his loyal and hard working Deputy President to be retained. The question is : "Would the incumbent President undertake such a sacrifice for the love of cricket." An answer most of us are fully aware.

Looking at the candidates for the various positions, it would seem there is either a strategy or a level of greediness for power at all cost. I state this as there are a few who have been nominated for 2 0r 3 positions. Although they still have time to withdraw but the fact that they knowingly let their names to be thrown into a number of positions calls into question their own wisdom. If a person permits his name to be dragged through such a ploy, one may wonder whether on the first place this person is a deserving candidate for any post. A question the affiliates have to decide upon but again if a "herd mentality" prevails than even a "frog" can be elected.

The way things look, a "clean sweep" may come into reality, if any one camp has the influence over majority of the affiliates. The scenario emerging may indicate that and if the "king makers" in their careful thoughtful process do not encompass members of the other camp in their line-up, then MCA may see itself as a "split" organisation with continuous problems. If the new leadership is prepared to accept this and live with it, nothing can be done about it. Equally, giving representations in non key posts also does not permit a "give and take" attitude and the problems would continue to persists. It is finding the right balance with a working team is what Malaysia badly needs for the betterment of cricket. Can this happen in this election? Only "great people with great minds can do great things". Lets see !!!!!!!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sports Minister means well but is there a proper follow through?

This Sports Minister engages himself into dialogue with the sporting fraternity. He takes the time to hear out the issues and even wants to see changes from the various national sports association (NSA) through an internal process. He seem to take a very diplomatic approach and not an aggressive stance. In this way he is highly approachable and would find the necessary time, whether in Parliament, the Ministry or at Bukit Jalil Sports Complex or even at a coffee house, to indulge into discussion. He does not rush through the issues and at the same time he digests the matters thoroughly. In that short spell he becomes highly conversant with the varying topics and is able to comprehend the issues.

The former Malaysian hockey internationals who were involved in the signature campaign to draw attention to the state of Malaysian hockey, can vouch for the Sports Minister's keen interest and attentive nature. The so called "102" Group had series of meetings with him and it culminated with a full presentation of their voluminous report to the Minister at Parliament. Indeed he was decisive and wanted it to be presented to the then incoming President of MHF, in the hope it would be implemented. All that took place at the MHF Seminar and thereupon came the usual Malaysian habitual process i.e the report was allowed to gather dust, as MHF seem to continue its "old" style. See this blog article titled "........... and it is 3 months, the Report Card for MHF" dated 2-2-2009.

The difficulty the Sports Minister has, is he leaves it to his officers and in the main with National Sports Council (NSC). This is where the problems tend to commence. In their zealous to do their job, NSC over indulges into MHF, thereby infringing the rules of ethics and putting themselves in positions of conflict of interest. This therefore deeply "muddies" the water and as such nothing becomes "clear" and the demarcation lines become totally distorted. At times , one wonders whether NSC is an affiliate or an office bearer of MHF. That is the level of over indulging.

If that is so, why then issues relating to change cannot be facilitated easily, particularly as NSC is right into the "nerve centre" of MHF. Part of the reason rests with the fact that in NSC it is the same people being involved in the past and present and therefore any move to change may jeopardise their "comfortable" positions. Despite NSC's deep involvement in MHF including infringement of ethics and conflicts, in many ways they ensure that the status quo is maintained. Strange it may sound but lets take examples:
  • Match fixing allegations - Firstly, NSC can claim that it is not their function to look into this matter. They are absolutely right except that they are the "paymaster" to the national players. The sad thing, is that, the allegation cover a number of players who are in the current national squad and nothing is being done to resolve the issue. It would help everyone including the image of the country, if this is urgently settled. Failing which it will remain an irritant issue forever. Being a Government agency they should be in the forefront encouraging MHF to resolve the matter. However somehow, this matter is being swept under the carpet by NSC themselves.
  • Ethics and conflict of interest - Representatives of NSC sit in the Consultative Committee, Wawasan Committee, Management Committee and the Team Management Committee, NSC is involved in the daily affairs of MHF. Therefore they must find it impossible to ask MHF to account to them on what is happening to hockey and how they spend NSC's allocation. To do so would ridicule the whole aspect of lines of reporting and the principles of conflict of interest. Since NSC seem to openly and bravely undertake it, the others in MHF do not mind also to infringe such principles, thereby making the aspect of governance and accountability a mockery.
  • Players Fitness - For years, every post mortem on the dismal performance of the various national teams seem to reflect the aspect of "fitness". Strangely, this is suppose to be the forte and expertise of NSC, yet the problem remains. This is a reflection that NSC seem to have lost its basic functional rights because of its over involvement in certain NSAs. A clear example of NSC losing their basic ploy of being a "check and balance" in the system.
  • Long term injury and rehabilitation - There are a number of players who are carrying injuries that require a longer period to recover. Some of them are carrying it for more than 6 months, while there maybe a person who is carrying an injury for nearly 18 months. The peculiarity is that they are all still being paid by NSC and yet most of them do not attend regular rehabilitation exercise clinics. More importantly, no one keeps track of these people and the progress they are making. Again this is NSC's expertise and forte, yet they seem to have lost sight of it.
  • Revamping of MHF - The "102" Group prepared the report and presented it. Everyone wanted to see the change and implement it. NSC is supposed to see to the betterment of sports and yet on this aspect despite being deeply involved in MHF, either they are on a snail pace or just permitting time to kill it. Strange but NSC is not in a hurry on it, as this all encompassing change may effect the "comfort" of various people. Therefore they feel threatened to push it through.

There are many other examples but this not about "NSC bashing". NSC had and is still doing a great service to sports in this country. There had been and there is still a number of good officers but that does not mean they are free from criticism. Their modus operandi lately particularly in MHF needs a careful review. These are difficult times for hockey and probably NSC wants to make sure that the country pulls through with flying colours. The intention maybe honourable but their operating style may cloud their worthy intention. Governance and accountability cannot be compromised.

The Sports Minister has a greater task as he moves on his discussions with former internationals in football and athletics. With the widen horizon, he may look back and see what is happening in MHF. MHF must turn out good not only in the field but also administratively such that the good work commenced by the Sports Minister is also properly undertaken by his officers and agencies. The Sports Minister is a trained professional lawyer and therefore his training expects a higher standard of governance and accountability. Therefore it is important that NSC recognise this from the onset. This becomes the test.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Valentine's Day - A day of choices in MCA.

February 14th, the day everyone with passion displays their love for their partner or future partner. In the case of MCA, that would be the day affiliates and incumbents would make their choices on who shall be the office bearers for the next 2 years. The question is , whether there is a "passion" to retain the incumbents or create a "change" i.e find new partners to the game.

Rumours in the market can only be confirmed on 7th February, the date of nomination. This time, there was talk of a "unity"committee but the initial good intention seems to have been undermined by sheer stubborn approach by negotiating parties. Part of the reason is the incumbent President wants to remain in his post. The other is the introduction of certain "faces" to certain key positions seems to imply that the parties are interested to hold those posts. Therefore compromise for the betterment of cricket based on the "best person for the job" may not materialise.

Obviously this is sad. The incumbent President is holding too many posts in too many places and it is clear he does not have quality time for Malaysian cricket. There is no doubt he has passion for the game but the question is can he give quality time. Indeed the current incumbent Deputy President is an able candidate for the post. He has done a lot for cricket and also for the welfare of players. It is only appropriate he should be rewarded but being a close friend of the incumbent President, he would not perform the "tyrannical" act of challenging him. Another person who would do an excellent job as President is the current President of Royal Selangor Club. A former national cricketer and was also the Secretary, who was responsible to revive Malaysian Cricket Association, would fit into this the position splendidly. Again I think having served under the incumbent President as Secretary, i cannot see him wanting to create any ill- feelings at this stage of his life. Of course there are many other candidates but the question is whether they want to to be seen to be challenging the incumbent renowned personality.

As for the Deputy President, the post is essentially "tailored made" for the current incumbent. Although he is not free from controversy in the last 2 years, yet he has also worked hard in his area of responsibility. In the past he has extended his own resources to keep MCA afloat and that is the sort of commitment that is displayed by the current incumbent. If he is not re-elected there would be a travesty of justice.

I understand that the current President of Perak Cricket Association, a former Vice President of MCA is highly keen to make a comeback. A good worker and able to do his job well. He had in the past ruffled a few feathers, the manner he undertook his job. Obviously, these were no ordinary feathers and he had to pay the price by losing in the last MCA BGM. More importantly, has he smoked the"pipe of peace" to pave the way for his return. I have no doubt that his organisational skills and prompt nature of attending to matters, would make him an ideal person for MCA.

Another person being encouraged to take the post of Vice President, is the current Secretary of an associate member of MCA. The organisation in which he is involved, is doing a great job in development and have extensive programme throughout the country. In many ways he has been the administrative "backbone" of the organisation and has been performing a remarkable job. Strangely, he seem to have a number of critics and some wonder whether it is because of envy or his style of doing things. Again, if he joins the office bearers of MCA, it would bring a broader dimension to MCA.

Rumours emerging from the cricketing circles indicate that the incumbent Secretary is retiring. If that is so, may i wish him and his family the very best. While i have been critical of him in the past, i must also admire the brave decision he has taken not to contest. It is important that his past services be recognised by the MCA. As for the Secretary, a peculiar news is floating around. How truthful it is, is difficult to verify. Some indicate the former Secretary, who is the incumbent Vice President, is keen to return to his old position. I think, some just find it difficult to give up.

An ideal person for the post of Secretary is the current Executive Secretary of Federal Territory Cricket Association (FTCA). A former national cricketer, a national coach and also match referee plus working as minuting secretary in a club, would bring a significant value to MCA. The point is whether he is prepared to take on the administrative task of the national organisation.

In another 2 or 3 days, we shall know the true situation and therefore we would know whether "camp" politics is prevailing or there is a genuine attempt for groups to work together for the betterment of Malaysian cricket.

Monday, February 2, 2009

....... and it is 3 months, the Report Card for MHF.

1st November 2008, saw the election of the new leadership in MHF. This gave a sense of hope that things would change after 2 years of deterioration in standards of Malaysian hockey. While performance was the main issue but aspects of governance and accountability too became an integral part of the moans and groans of the hockey fraternity.

The outcry for change saw a number of bustling activities from anonymous letters to signature campaign, to the full electioneering process for positions. From various offices, the search was on to find suitable people to helm MHF and bring the changes. There were "big names" involved and i must state most of them had the interest of Malaysian hockey at heart. A few rode on the wave using the "big names" to resurrect themselves, so as their years of service to Malaysian hockey would not be forgotten and they can influence the new leadership.. There were others, who created a scenario that they knew it all and was out to make an impression. Finally, there were people, who just wanted to attend the "victory dinner", irrespective who won. This was the multitude of people with varying interests, who made the cosmopolitan of people, who wanted to participate in the change.

However the state of Malaysian hockey was so bad that it became extremely difficult to find suitable candidates to helm MHF. Finally, through the good offices of a passionate hockey personality that TM of Pahang agreed to become President and the necessary backroom work was done for the TM to be unopposed. Sadly, most of the former office bearers remained and this immediately posed a question: Would the change take place?

On 31st January 2009 TM and his Committee had served 3 months in MHF and the time has come to take a "stocktake" to determine if hockey is moving in the right direction. Therefore the "Report Card" for the 3 months is as follows:

The Positive Outlook.

  1. Appointment of Committee Chairman's.
  • Named the respective personalities within a month of taking over .
  • Presented the list to the MHF Council within a month.
  • Created 2 new Committees, namely Consultative and Wawasan.

2. Organising National Hockey Seminar.

  • Had a national seminar within one and the half months of taking over.
  • President presented his vision of MHF.
  • Various Committees presented their "plans" including the "102" Group.

3. Team Management Committee (TMC).

  • TMC appoints Managers and Coaches for the various national teams.

4. Junior World Cup (JWC) 2009.

  • President visits venue to check status of site. Guarantees MHF shall be ready for JWC.
  • Organising Chairman appointed.
  • Cancelled friendly inter - nation tournament has been reinstated by President for March 2009.

5. Senior National Team.

  • Newly appointed interim coaches requests for fitness and medical tests by ISN on players.
  • "Smoking" by players has become an issue with the coaches.
  • Injury of players particularly those with long term injuries are under pressure to attend rehabilitation.

6. Foreign Coach for Senior Team.

  • President is committed to the appointment of foreign coach and the search is on-going.

7. Donation.

  • The President had received a donation of 2 cars for MHF.

The Negative Outlook.

  1. Appointment of Committee Chairman's
  • The appointments did not get the prior approval of the Management Committee.
  • The MHF Council was duly informed prior to a Management Meeting.

2. National Hockey Seminar.

  • Pathetically organised and shows the inherent weakness of MHF Secretariat.
  • Findings and recommendations have not been collated and circulated to Affiliates and interested parties.

3. Master Plan for Malaysian hockey.

  • MHF is in a "talk" atmosphere and there is absences of "strategic" planning work, a key ingredient in moving forward in the creation of a Master Plan.
  • In the absence of a Master Plan, MHF is both "blind" and "lame" as to its approach over a period of time.
  • One can assume MHF is still on "ad-hoc" mode of operation i.e no different from the past 2 years.

4. Structural revamping of MHF.

  • "102" Former hockey internationals presented a voluminous report and the "road map" including the way forward to revamp MHF. As in the past, this document seem to collect dust too.

5. Team Management Committee (TMC).

  • Certain members in the TMC have put themselves in position of conflict by also sitting in the Consultative or Wawasan Committees, which is to supervise some of the key facets of MHF.
  • A key NSC representative sits on the TMC, which is both ethically wrong and also from a position of conflict.
  • A member of the TMC was also appointed to a position with one of the national teams, which is an infringement of rules of natural justice.
  • Certain appointee of TMC in the national team, who also sits in the Wawasan Committee, which itself is ethically not proper and further it creates a conflict.
  • TMC totally lacked transparency in the appointment of coaches, as they could have advertised the posts for coaches to apply. Governance is not the order of TMC.
  • TMC seem to focus most of their appointments to Kuala Lumpur affiliates only, thereby creating a biase position in the appointment process.
  • The TMC did not do sufficient in-depth work on the appointment, as some of the coaches do not have any "paper" qualification.
  • In making the appointment public, the TMC did not obtain the prior approval of the Management Committee.

6. Coaching Committee.

  • Chairman of Coaching Committee, who sits in the TMC seem to endorse TMC decision without his Committee deliberating on the subject.
  • The Chairman wants all coaches to have appropriate qualifications, yet those who were appointed to the various national teams without "papers" are now given 6 months to obtain them. Why not apply the same rule across the board? Why are some special?
  • Progress of Coaching Committee and its plans seem to be slow.
  • Again the Coaching Committee is abdicating its responsibility by allowing a Vice President (nothing to do with Coaching) in MHF to conduct the negotiations for the foreign coach.

7. Project 2013.

  • TMC in its strange wisdom had appointed most of the coaches involved with a corporate sponsored Age Group development referred to as Project 2013, leading to the Junior World Cup in 2013. This programme was endorsed by the previous administration of MHF.
  • By doing this the TMC has literally "killed" Project 2013 and the involvement of a corporate sponsor.
  • Project 2013 is to be the core of the current Development Committee programme which is referred to as "30/13". Now what happens to this programme?

8. Development Committee.

  • After 3 months this Committee is on a "see saw" outlook. Firstly their programme of "30/13" seem technically undermined by the TMC.
  • Their new programme of Malaysia B team seems to be outside their scope i.e development.
  • The Development Committee seem more interested in National Teams as oppose to creating an interest and promoting the game with young kids. Where is such a plan?

9. Competition Committee

  • A lot of was spoken of a single National league and it was to start in February. Yet suddenly they have gone on "silent" mode.
  • Big ideas with more teams and longer period of competition. Maybe because MHF Calender for 2009 is not ready, they are now in a fix.
  • The Committee has also to check the issue of funding as 2008 winning parties have yet to receive their prize money.

10. Medical Committee and Special Projects Committee.

  • Both these Committees seem to be "passengers" in MHF.
  • Surprising the Chairman of the Medical Committee is involved in the negotiations for a foreign coach. Indeed if any, he should work with ISN and see how best modern innovations could be adopted to enhance players performance.

11. Extremely weak MHF Secretariat.

  • This is one of the key problem area of MHF. The weakness is very apparent but for strange reasons nothing is being done.

12. NSC and their involvement.

  • Today, NSC has become like an affiliate of MHF or an elected office bearer. It seem to be involved on the day to day running of MHF. Its key representatives sit in the Management Committee, Consultative Committee, Wawasan Committee and the Team Management Committee.
  • Ethically and from conflict NSC is in total breach. NSC is the main government agency for Sports but it has to caary out its role properly. The "waters" should not mix but the way NSC is involved in MHF, the lines of demarcation is totally distorted.

13. Foreign Coach.

  • The stories that were told for the last 3 months of the appointment. It all seem to be "stories".
  • The problem is no one with sufficient calibre either at NSC or MHF know how to conduct proper negotiations with the foreign coaches. Those are the hard facts.

In essence, that is the "Report Card" for MHF for their 1st three months. I may have missed some points but I think all in all, the report card does not show a glowing report. Indeed the minimum changes expected in governance and accountability has not materialise. Therefore to expect a MasterPlan and the revamping of MHF is like the "cow jumping over the moon" i.e as good as a nursery rhyme and probably that is what MHF is best at.

All the attention given to MHF seem to reflect the maxim of "too many cooks spoilt the soup". It cannot be far from wrong. Indeed if the 1st three months is an indication of MHF, I really cannot see much hope in Malaysian hockey. The President has to undertake drastic measures even if it is unpopular or not the deterioration of Malaysin hockey would continue.