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.