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Monday, September 1, 2014

Racism, hooliganism have no place in Malaysian football

Five men have been arrested for alleged rioting involving some 2,000 people following the Sarawak-Perak Malaysia Cup match on Saturday which left several police vehicles damaged and dozens of people, including five policemen, injured. 

Read more here.

Sarawak's Social Development Minister Tan Sri William Mawan has blamed police for the woeful crowd control that led to rioting, as reported here.

Perak Football Association refuted claims that Perak supporters were involved the riot at the State Stadium in Kuching, as seen here.

During an earlier match, five Sarawak supporters from the group ‘GB13’ were allegedly assaulted outside the compound of Stadium Perak on Wednesday night, according to fan accounts and video on social media.

According to one of the victims, Hifadhi Fatha Sarbini, 22, a Sarawakian working in Ampang, they were about to leave the stadium peacefully when one of the alleged attackers was seen shouting profanities and racial abuse at them in the parking lot.

Read more here.

Question: What happened to the FA of Malaysia's 'Love Football Stop Hooliganism' campaign launched in February?

Question: Racism in football? Between fans? Among us fellow Malaysians just as we celebrated the nation's independence day on August 31 and to honour the formation of Malaysia on September 16?


Note: This is not the first time we have faced incidents involving racism and hooliganism at football matches in Malaysia. Among others: 
a) Malaysian FA apologises to Benayoun over racist abuse
b) Perlawanan bola sepak Pahang lawan JDT kecoh apabila ada penyokong JDT cedera kena baling objek keras diluar stadium
c) FAM rekod 18 insiden gaduh libat penyokong

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Historical ruin of ‘home alone’ Merdeka Stadium

As published in Malay Mail on Saturday. Article is by Frankie D' Cruz.
Merdeka Stadium looks about 80. But she is not, she is 57. That is not old age, but it is not young either.

She deserves to have pride of place in the altar of celebrations as the nation revels in 57 years of independence. But she is all alone, almost in embarrassing anonymity.

That would explain why she looks aged and forgotten while Malaysia, her same age, looks the very opposite — riveting.

My point? The absence of the very spot  — where Tunku Abdul Rahman stood on the morning Aug 31, 1957 to declare Malaya’s independence from the British — in the towering significance of Merdeka Day cheeriness.

The joy, while muted by the twin airline disasters of MH370 and MH17, is further dampened by the stadium being a victim of historical amnesia.

You must agree with me that in the current struggle for national recovery, the stadium which in recent decades fell into disuse, would have been a beneficial venue for inspiration.

Historical disrespect? Consider: Seven years ago, when Malaysia celebrated 50 years of independence, I helmed a team that produced a 13-episode television documentary ‘Sports — a nation builder’ for the government.
The opening chapter on Merdeka Stadium began with three questions: Have you heard of Merdeka Stadium? Where is Merdeka Stadium? Have you been to Merdeka Stadium?

Students, those in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, gave disheartening responses: that they had never been there; vaguely remembered reading about the stadium in history books; one man said he had been to the stadium only once on his first date with his wife to the fish head curry restaurant.

The five were among some 50 Malaysians interviewed, majority of whom had completely forgotten Malaysia’s Independence icon.

This week Malay Mail carried out a similar exercise involving the same age groups, and it was the same heartbreaking story.

The blistering honesty about Merdeka Stadium, once the conscience that fed the Malaysian dream, is that she has been airbrushed from Malaysia’s annals.

Once, the soul and character of Malaysia and her sporting feats. Once, the scene of an outpouring of unbridled joy during the declaration of “Merdeka”.

Once, where people of all ages and races bonded in local and international sporting, youth, culture and religious events.

Once, where Malaysians threw off the straitjacket of pessimism and attained a cloak of adventure.

If Merdeka Stadium had tremendous depth, diversity and appeal, why is she being sidelined as a venue for Malaysians to gain some pace and quintessentially Malaysian gusto?

When tens of thousands, their spirits soaring, filled the stadium to hear Tunku — our first Prime Minister — proclaim “Merdeka”, it was the start of Merdeka Stadium’s national duty to help build more pride, self-esteem and a sense of belonging among Malaysians.

That she did — in style. Merdeka Stadium promoted the virtues of sports and family units by bringing the rakyat together through activities, achievement and integration.

She became an instrument of understanding among people. She became a formidable vehicle for the education about the world at large. She instilled in children and young people values such as respect and tolerance.

It enabled a fledgling nation like ours to share the international sporting stage with bigger and more developed nations in a way that few institutions could.

Merdeka Stadium was the brainchild of Tunku, who had in his speech at the opening ceremony, said: “I have great hope that the stadium will be the meeting place for sportsmen throughout the world. Through sports, we hope to promote peace and happiness and goodwill in this world.”

A national stadium had already been the dream of the sports-loving Tunku as early as 1951, though the idea was not mooted until 1953.

When Tunku laid the foundation stone in 1957, at the site of Coronation Park (earlier known as People’s Park) where every sports-loving person gathered, he said:

“Every sportsman has been clamouring for it and the demand was so great that I plucked up sufficient courage to pose a question at the meeting of the Federal Legislative Council on March 18, 1953. My question was greeted with derisive laughter from all over the House.”

His detractors, mainly British administrators, believed that it was a waste of public funds. They were to be proven sorely wrong later.

Tunku’s critics never foresaw the powerful brand that Merdeka Stadium was to become.

Merdeka Stadium continued that people’s tradition and almost everything involving the rakyat was held there.

She stirred the nation, motivated and unified the people. She was the model to effect desirable change, the best love story on the land — a romance between the nation and a bastion of a nation’s accomplishments.

It was where the stirring sight of the best kind of Malaysian hero — the unheralded kind — whose unpredictable skills emerged.

It was where the first Malay Mail Big Walk, or warmly known as the Biggie on Feb 21, 1960 involving 2,864 participants was flagged off by Tunku.

If Sri Shanmugnathan and his boys shimmered by fin

If the Malay Mail survey is anything to go by, many Malaysians, most of whom were born post-Merdeka, especially those who had not grown up in Kuala Lumpur or who were totally disinterested in sports, are totally unconcerned about the stadium.

The authorities are not helping. Just two  events — one showcasing the history of various government departments and the other screening black and white movies from Malaysia’s past — are being held at the national institution to celebrate independence this year. Sad.­

If Merdeka Stadium was once the centrepiece of unifying force, one wonders why the authorities now don’t see its obvious value to the nation.

Granted, Malaysia needed the colossal National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil, but why haven’t we been able to imprint Merdeka Stadium in the minds of Malaysians as the site of Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka?
ishing fourth at the Hockey World Cup — our best ever placing  in the tournament —  it was also in 1975,  that the world spotlight shone on Merdeka Stadium when boxing great Muhammad Ali fought Joe Bugner. It was where Michael Jackson performed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Boys and girls, it’s time to get fit

Haresh Says, as published in Malay Mail today

LET’S not kid ourselves. Doing 20 push-ups before eating chicken briyani is not going to turn us into hunks or lower our cholesterol.
But this is beyond push-ups or crunches for a free meal or to post such antics online to get the attention of fellow social media users.
Here is an initiative by the Youth and Sports Ministry to get people to sweat it out and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
It has been a while since the ministry had embarked on such an aggressive campaign on social media to get people active. Led by its minister Khairy Jamaluddin, the hashtag #FitMalaysia and informative tips by @FitMalaysians on Twitter have certainly caught the attention of many.
Khairy, had for several weeks, encouraged the masses to perform exercise routines. There is also a promotion where if one could do 20 push-ups at a restaurant in Publika, he or she would get either a chicken briyani or a tandoori wrap.
This is not just about the ministry’s initiative or Khairy. Such efforts indirectly highlight a fact that many choose to ignore — the worrying state of health of Malaysians today.
The number of Malaysians suffering from non-communicable diseases (NCD) is alarming. From a population of slightly over 30 million, 6.2 million Malaysians have high cholesterol, 5.2 million suffer from hypertension, 2.6 million people are diabetic while 2.5 million are obese.
The “urbanites”, often caught in the rat race, tend to use work as an excuse for not having time to pump their hearts. The lack of discipline in one’s lifestyle is often to be blamed for the end result could prove fatal.
But an exercise routine, if done diligently, has so much to offer.
By having ample space to run and a working environment that provides employees time to exercise, it would promote a healthy workforce. This would then see a reduction in clinic and hospital bills, saving time and manpower.
Conducting physical activities with family members and friends can improve relations and enhance social interaction among communities.
There is a need for more parties to be involved in such a programme. As rightly stated in the National Strategic Plan for NCD issued by the Health Ministry in 2010, a myriad of stakeholders have to be actively involved in creating policies and legislations to create a health promoting build environment and also in implement programmes to prevent and control NCD in Malaysia. 
This includes active participation from various ministries, namely education, health, and women, family and community development. There should be an ecosystem where all parties play a role to ensure a healthy nation. This would also promote the sports industry, an avenue which remains to be sorely overlooked by many.
Sadly, we often see such noble efforts downplayed in the name of ego. Such policies are immediately forgotten once a new minister sets in. New policies are introduced once a new person takes office, as ministers are eager to leave a legacy during their short stint. Instead, their work is often remembered for the wrong reasons.
There were many masterplans hyped in the past, including the Rakan Muda campaign. There were efforts to get corporate bodies to sponsor national sports associations and at one time, the ministry went big on extreme sports, hoping to win the hearts of the “younger generation”. All these initiatives died a natural death.
The same is evident in other ministries and government agencies as well.
The time has come for such policies to be adopted as a long-term national agenda and evolve along the way. The Japanese, through their FA in 1992, embarked on a 100-year programme for football. This explains their continuous dominance in the region. Imagine what we could have achieved if similar goals were set — but with little interference or by not derailing from the initial objective.
It does not matter if you love Khairy or simply despise him. What matters the most is the fact that we have an initiative to promote a healthy lifestyle among the masses.
Go run, walk, cycle, jog, swim or jump. And I’m sure the people at Fitness Innovation Malaysia (also known as FIT Malaysia), a standard fitness training, learning and certification centre based at Damansara Perdana, would not mind #FitMalaysia going viral.
It is all about our well-being, to inject the importance of wellness among our younger generation and to promote a productive nation.
So boys and girls, it’s time for us to get fit!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Triple dare nets RM4,000

As published in Malay Mail today

PETALING JAYA — The heat was on three senior editorial staff members at Malay Mail yesterday when they took the ice bucket challenge to raise funds and awareness for Amyotrophic laterral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and research for prostate cancer.
Editor-in-chief Datuk Wong Sai Wan, who was nominated by The Star group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, took on the challenge with assistant editor Purwaiz Alam and editor (investigations and special projects) Haresh Deol.
Each of them went beyond what was required and took the challenge three times — a condition to get the donations. 
“This is for a good cause and I hope no one goes through ALS.
“This is personal for me because my cousin died of it 10 years ago,” said Wong. 
The RM4,000 collected will be split between the ALS Association and the Prostate Cancer Foundation in the UK, the US and Australia together with a relevant men’s health charity in Asia.
“I am also riding in The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride on September 28 in Kuala Lumpur to raise awareness for the research of prostate cancer,” said Haresh. 
While some are critical about the challenge wasting perfectly good and clean water, Purwaiz said they used rainwater.
“We are thankful that it rained in the morning, so it helped us contribute to conserving water.
“If you do it in the right way, the message will get across and it is definitely worth it,” he added. 
After the challenge was completed, Wong nominated MAS head of strategic communications Datuk Najmuddin Abdullah and Iwan Media chief executive officer Datuk Ishak Istiaq to take on the challenge. 
The ALS ice bucket challenge has participants dunking themselves with iced water while being recorded on video.
It has gone viral worldwide since it started in the US. 
Notable celebrities have also participated in this challenge.
ALS is a degenerative and often terminal disease of the nerve cells and spinal cord that controls voluntary muscle movement. 
Those who suffer from the disease experience muscle weakness, twitching, difficulty in using their arms and legs, and difficulty in talking, breathing and swallowing. 
The disease is more commonly known in the US by its everyday name, after baseball player Lou Gehrig died of the illness in 1941.

Monday, August 25, 2014

New law proposed to weed out rotten civil servants

As published in Malay Mail today
KUALA LUMPUR — A special legislation is needed to deal with government officials who flaunt regulations and act against the interest of the public.
This was one of the five recommendations mooted by the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board (ACAB) as it focused on the misconduct of civil servants and the lack of action against them.
The board also noted refusals, delays and reluctance in taking disciplinary action by the disciplinary board of certain ministries or government departments “as well as the disproportionate sentences that were imposed on a public officer engaged in corruption”.
The statement was in conjunction with the submission of the board’s 2013 Reviews Report to the Special Committee on Corruption (SCC) on August 12.
ACAB and SCC are among the five entities which act as the check and balance mechanism to monitor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) since 2009. The board said the recommendations were to sustain the independence, transparency and professionalism of the commission.
“The ACAB suggests any public servant, who is found guilty of any disciplinary charges, receive a punishment that commensurate with the offences committed to establish an element of deterrence,” the statement read.
But the board recognised the fact that MACC was unable to instruct any ministry or government department to take action against its personnel based on its report.
The other recommendations were to ensure companies were not exempted from prosecution and punishment, recordings made in MACC’s video interviewing rooms be accepted as evidence in court and candidates to fill key positions in government-linked and owned companies be screened by MACC to ensure they were free from corruption.
“ACAB is confident that with the right strategies and unwavering commitment, the commission will be a competent and respected anti-corruption agency,” the board's chairman Puan Sri Zaitun Zawiyah Puteh said.
MACC, had on August 13, said it was “slighted and would request for a written explanation from the appropriate authority” as to why Kedah secretary Datuk Wira Mohd Puat Mohd Ali was “let free” following a front page exclusive by Malay Mail entitled, “Probed by MACC, made state secretary”, published on the same day.
Investigations by the commission revealed Mohd Puat, who was then state financial officer, had awarded three roadworks contracts worth RM980,000 each to three companies without referring them to the state secretary or the state council meetings.
MACC deemed Mohd Puat’s actions as a “conflict of interest” as one of the contractors used another firm to carry out renovations to his brother-in-law’s house, which he later moved into.
MACC sent a letter and its report to the state secretary’s office on May 13 last year, saying Mohd Puat had broken the Kedah Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 2007 and that disciplinary action be taken against him.
However, on June 5, 2013, Mohd Puat was named state secretary, replacing Datuk Wira Rasli Basir.
Mohd Puat, had in a Malay Mail report, insisted he was cleared of any wrongdoing. He had claimed there was a concerted move to get rid of him as he was retiring on November 4.
State Public Services Commission secretary Ahmad Termizi Abdul Rani was unaware of the report, adding he only assumed duties from Sharhida Nazuha recently.
Despite repeated emails and phone calls, efforts to get Public Service Commission secretary Datuk Ramli Juhari remained futile.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Riding to raise runds for prostate cancer

Dear all,

Globally more men are affected by prostate cancer than women are by breast cancer. Each year, one in nine men develop prostate cancer, and close to 500,000 men will die from the disease.

 On Sunday the 28th of September, I am going to press my cravat, polish my brogues and motor along in the 2014 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride to help find a cure for prostate cancer.  Why? Because over 1,300 men a day die of prostate cancer worldwide. And that’s just not cricket. Your donation will help The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride reach its goal of $US1 million to fund research into a cure for a disease that claims far too many gentlemen each and every year.
So be a sport and sponsor my ride — thank you ever so much!

For those intending to donate for the cause, please visit this link.

If I am able to raise funds through my participation, that would be more meaningful. I have set a modest target of US$100 (RM317). If I can achieve that target, it will be great. Otherwise, I'd be happy riding for a good cause.