Amarjit Singh as Chairman of the UB, is without doubt Malaysia's pride in the hockey umpiring world and he has "blown" in numerous renowned international tournaments including a number of their finals. Amarjit continued and at times emulated what was done by people like the late John Kanagaratnam, Datuk Vijiyanathan,Titus Havelock, the late N Valupillay, Lee Cheng Poh and the late V T Duray (Thamby). These are a special breed of officials who could compete with the best in the world of hockey umpiring and come out top.
So when a distinguished personality like Amarjit Singh makes such a statement, I become concerned whether it is a "guarded" statement. He states it is the best available and he could be right. He further emphasises that they can be compared with the international umpires and this is where I may agree to disagree with him and I have my reasons.
My disagreement arises because of the following matters that have taken place at the fields:
- Players shouting obscene language during the game.
- Players protesting on decisions of the umpires by harassing them or throwing their sticks to the ground in disgust.
- Team officials and some senior players have confronted umpires after matches with abusive language.
In all these cases it would seem the umpires have chosen to adopt the "3 monkeys" philosophy ie "I no see", "I no hear" and "I no talk". No action whatsoever is taken by the umpires and like many things they may not want any controversy. Therefore sweeping it under the carpet would be an ideal solution for the umpires including technical officials.
What the umpires do not understand is the players, officials and spectators become aware of this. They may not realise but people do talk about it. In essence what the umpires are doing is condoning bad behavior both on and off the ground. These are discipline matters and the more it is swept under the carpet, the more dirt is being collected. Then there would be layers and layers and to remove them would be difficult particularly as it starts to "stain" Malaysian hockey. Indeed discipline issues have on many occasions unsettled the senior national team.
Again we have to ask why players and officials turn to such behavior against umpires. I believe it is what the umpires do in the game that seem to be creating the outbursts. Some of them are as follows:
- Making wrong decisions.
- Inconsistencies in decision making.
- Influenced by current and former senior international players during the game.
- Failure to control the game properly.
In tense situations as frustration builds up and the lack of anger management in teams both with players and officials, various unnecessary instantaneous emotional outbursts manifest which I have outlined much earlier. While it is not good for the game, it is sacrosanct that the umpires must be respected and decisions followed despite the countless repetitive errors.
This is where if both umpires and team management make formal complaints rather then just confronting the umpires, then at least Amarjit and the UB would have something to go by to investigate the issues. Sweeping under the carpet by umpires, technical officials and the various team management does not help in wanting to improve the overall situation of umpiring. Sometimes the fear that umpires in defence of their colleagues may victimise the teams, may act as a hindrance to formally raise the issues.
This is where I believe Amarjit and the UB must review matters carefully. Maybe one of the solution is to have reputed retired umpires doing "checks" on the current umpires during the MHL matches to judge if they are performing satisfactorily. Again MHF must ask the technical officers to ensure that umpires are not harassed after the game. Finally umpires have to be strict with players and do not give them the room to display their emotional outburst. The issues must be "nipped at the bud".
So Amarjit, I must state that the current "crop" of umpires have not reached anywhere near your calibre when you were in their position. This is why I disagree with you that they are comparable to international umpires.