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Friday, December 19, 2014

Old broom sweeps clean. Shapawi returns to head NSC

As published in Mailsport today.







By Nicolas Anil    
nicolas@mmail.com.my

KUALA LUMPUR — A tough journey awaits Ahmad Shapawi Ismail.

While his bosses see him as the “right” person to lead the National Sports Council (NSC), it is no secret Shapawi will face several envious colleagues as he starts work as the Council’s director-general today.

Efforts to groom him into becoming NSC director-general started years ago, especially when he was NSC athletes training unit director in 2007. However, he did not fall in favour with certain high ranking officials which led him out of the Council. He was named National Sports Institute (NSI) chief executive officer in 2012 and was there for a year before he was moved to the Sports Commissioner’s Office.

But, Shapawi is enjoying the last laugh — replacing his former boss Datuk Seri Zolkples Embong in the hot seat.

Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, in announcing Shapawi as the new director-general yesterday, said he will start work today. Shapawi’s replacement at the Sports Commissioner’s Officer will be revealed next month.

Mailsport had on Wednesday quoted insiders revealing Shapawi was among the three candidates — including Datuk Yusof Jantan and Datuk Salim Parlan — eyed for the post.

“He was selected based on his vast experience, especially as an administrator. I was also impressed with his vision as he had short and long term development programmes for the national athletes. Such plans were aligned with my approach and that of the ministry,” Khairy said.

“It was an open recruitment and we had 40 applications from within and abroad. He was selected from a pool of eight shortlisted candidates which included a foreigner.”

Khairy pointed out Shapawi had created a career Grand Slam by assuming the top roles of three major agencies under the ministry.
“The other applicants told me they can do everything but Shapawi was special as he did not over-promote himself to being a Superman.”

Shapawi’s first task at hand is to prepare a blueprint for the national contingent in next year’s SEA Games in Singapore and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

He will be given a free hand to lead the NSC along with the management committee, but will remain under the watchful eyes of the ministry, Khairy added. Shapawi had also said he will seek the assistance of the NSI to prepare for the two major Games.

The decision to remove Zolkples was made following the pathetic performances by the national contingents at the Commonwealth and Asian Games.

Malaysia returned with only six gold medals from the Glasgow Commonwealth in July - their worst performance in 20 years.

The national athletes only returned with five gold medals at the Asian Games two months later, also their worst performance in 20 years.

Zolkples, who was director-general since 2007, was named the chief executive officer for the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia.

FACTSHEET
Age: 51
Education: Masters Degree in Sports Management
Contract: Two years

Work Experience:
* NSC Athletes’ Training Unit Director (2010- 2012)
* NSI Chief Executive Officer  (2012-2013)
* Sports Commissioner  (2013- Dec 18 2014)
* Led Malaysia to a sixth place finish at the 2010 Asian Para Games
* Involved in the Jaya ’98 programme (10 gold medals at ’98 Commonwealth Games), the 2001 Gemilang programme (111 gold medals at 2001 SEA Games) and Doha 2006 programme (eight gold medals at 2006 Asian Games)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Haresh Says: Address real issues, manage perceptions

Haresh Says, as published in Malay Mail today.

THEY were engrossed in conversations that revolved around daily lives, subjects that lit their faces.

These young minds had plenty to say, so much to offer.

They looked at a particular issue in a logical and reasonable manner, interesting coming from a bunch of 20-odd-year-olds. Most in their age would dream of love affairs, getting wasted or wanting to be millionaires by the age of 40 by shaking legs.

The discussions ranged from remarks made during several political gatherings held over the weekend, the current state of the nation’s economy and feminism.

Oh yes, they also joked about Kim Kardashian wanting a “flat butt”, saying it made more sense than remarks made by politicians these days.

Here are excerpts of the subjects spoken about and their reactions — through Adam, Benny and Charline (to satisfy the curious minds, all three are from different ethnicity — not that it matters though).

Politics

Adam: The speeches during the gatherings did not touch on any pressing subjects like the economy, rising cost of living and the state of national food security. Property and healthcare are worrying subjects as well and while everything seems to be going up and has gone up the past decade, wages have generally remained the same during the same period. Heck, we can’t even seem to fix our roads!
 
Benny: One speaks about defending the rights of a certain ethnicity. Another is begging to be part of the ruling coalition. The final dude, who loves commenting on everything under the sun, admits the loose opposition pact can’t get their house in order. How is this progressive? What are the plans or direction to take Malaysia to the next level? Yilek (none in Tamil).

Charline: There was a call for Indian parties to work together. (Prime Minister Datuk Seri) Najib (Razak) said this during the Indian Progressive Front gathering on Sunday. It’s no longer about parties representing a particular community based on skin colour. Our problems are universal. It’s about all parties working together for a common goal. It is easier said than done but we need to start from somewhere. Some politicians also believe in the divide and rule principle. It’s stale … the landscape has changed, the people’s needs have evolved. Sadly, politicians don’t seem to get that.

Economy

Adam: My friends in Singapore said there were long queues at the money changer outlets. The ringgit has dropped drastically. The exchange rate is ridiculously horrible and is expected to go lower. As for me, my next holiday destination, if I can afford one, has been reduced to either Langkawi or Danok, Thailand.

Benny: I’m in the midst of looking for a job in Singapore. The pay is good, the perks are better. Might as well make some money there and if I decide not to settle down in Singapore, at least I’ll return to Malaysia with plenty of cash. Why work so hard and earn peanuts when we can clock in the same hours and get paid more?

Charline: We are bracing for tough times ahead. Small and medium enterprises will be hard hit. The cost of living is rising … so are raw materials. And despite oil prices are at its lowest, many traders are still raising the prices of goods. They are using the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax as an excuse. The authorities claim traders and retailers will be scrutinised in assuring consumers the prices of goods will not rise drastically. But how do you explain the erratic prices of cooking gas in the market despite a ceiling price of RM22.80 (12kg) and RM26.60 (14kg) set by the government? There is a lack of enforcement. We all know about it, yet nothing is done to address it. We are more fixated about petty issues.

Feminism

Adam: I wear earring. Some look at me oddly. Budak dah rosak (he’s spoilt), they say. Several children came up to me and asked why I wore earrings. They said only women can wear them. They asked if I was lembut (soft) and went on to call me pondan (transvestite). I sarcastically asked them what is wrong being a woman. Is it any lesser than being a man? I told them to question their mothers if she felt her husband was better than her. They ran away. But my biggest fear is that we are drilling such thoughts into the minds of our young, that being girls are softer or weaker than guys.  It’s wrong. It’s just stereotyping.

Benny: It’s fine for a guy to smoke but when a girl does it, they call her a slut. It’s fine for a guy to down liquor or get ink but when a girl does so, she is labelled as being bad. People are hypocrites. We should treat each other equally ... man, woman, black, white or blue.

Charline: Feminism is alive and kicking in Malaysia, contrary to popular belief. Otherwise, please explain why a husband needs to constantly ask his wife if he could buy or do something? My friend’s husband wanted to buy a superbike but my friend said no. They ended up buying a station wagon instead. So yes, there is woman power after all (sic)!

Racism

Adam: Saya bukan rasis (I am not a racist).

Benny: Only the racists harp on racism.

Charline: I’m getting tired of Malaysians harping about racism and judging based on skin colour. This hak kwai (black ghost in Cantonese) respects all and sees beyond race and religion. Surprised?

Kim Kardashian wanting a “flat butt”

Adam: Sorry, I rather watch SPA Putrajaya FC take on UiTM FC.

Benny: Too big for my liking.

Charline: At least Kim realises that it is super huge and something needs to be done. It’s called addressing an issue, managing perception. Perhaps our leaders should watch Keeping up with the Kardashians to learn a thing or two.

HARESH is executive editor of Malay Mail. Write to him at haresh@mmail.com.my or on Twitter @HareshDeol

Shapawi, Salim or Yusof to run NSC

As published in Mailsport today

KUALA LUMPUR — Ahmad Shapawi Ismail, Datuk Salim Parlan and Datuk Yusof Jantan are the frontrunners for the National Sports Council (NSC) director-general post which will be announced tomorrow.

 Insiders say Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, while pleased with the trio, has yet to decide who will replace Datuk Seri Zolkples Embong.

“It’s down to Shapawi, Salim and Yusof. It’s close,” said a top ministry official.

Many feel Shapawi and former Sports Ministry deputy secretary-general (strategic) Salim are "well-versed" with the sports landscape and “best suited” for the job.

Shapawi was formerly with NSC but in June 17, 2013, he replaced Datuk Yassin Salleh as Sports Commissioner.

Yusof was once Malacca Mayor.

Critics argue placing Shapawi in the equation is wrong due to “camps” that exist in NSC.

It is an open secret Shapawi does not enjoy a cordial relationship with Zolkples and has close ties with former NSC director-general Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad — Zolkples’ mentor-turned-critic.
Zolkples became director-general in 2007, replacing Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz, who is now the National Sports Institute chief executive officer.

The decision to remove Zolkples was made following the pathetic performances by the national contingents at the Commonwealth and Asian Games.

Malaysia returned with only six gold medals from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games — their worst performance in 20 years. They won 12 gold medals in New Delhi in 2010.

At the Asian Games, the 276-strong  contingent only delivered five gold, 14 silver and 14 bronze medals — also their worst performance in 20 years. — By Haresh Deol

As B.A. Baracus would say ... I pity the fools

Going Nuts by Graig Nunis, as published in Mailsport today.


SOME Malaysians are going ga-ga over Astro’s new Hits channel which replays popular shows from the 1980s with many enjoying the campy, crappy, over-the-top and just plain silly The A-Team.

The show is about a group of former American Special Forces who help the downtrodden and the oppressed (while eluding the long arm — or in this case, short arm of the law).

Throughout the show’s four seasons, the heroes fired thousands of rounds of bullets without killing anyone — a little like Liverpool’s strikers who as the old joke goes, wouldn’t be able to score in a brothel!

Campy, crappy, over-the-top and just plain silly could also best describe FA of Malaysia (FAM).

Just when you thought things could not get any worse after the Malaysia Cup fiasco when the biggest local football match had to share the vicinity of the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil with a Buddhist prayer event and a Sarawak carnival — making life and parking a living hell for fans and residents — comes the news the AFF Cup final second leg against Thailand on Saturday will share the same venue with a car show.

Only Carparks C and D would be available for football fans and police have vowed to tow each and every illegally parked car!

Good luck doing that, coppers.

So once again, FAM has made a decision to maximise profits without thinking about the fans.
No doubt FAM’s top brass would not have any difficulty getting to and from the stadium but the poor fans who have to fork out RM50 for a ticket (kids 12 and below are charged RM10) are going to suffer — again.

Many are also complaining about the ticket prices. When the first leg semifinal was held at Shah Alam Stadium, it was only RM40 for adults.

Now an additional 20,000 fans will flock to the National Stadium which holds 90,000 fans.
FAM can expect to earn at least an extra RM1 million from ticket sales — hopefully the national body will invest a sizeable chunk to beef up security after what happened between Malaysian and Vietnam supporters on Dec 7.

Stop laughing . . .

Why didn’t FAM book the stadium much, much earlier as the AFF dates were known well in advance?

Is it because FAM didn’t have faith in the national team? After all, it didn’t even bother appointing a national coach to replace Datuk K. Rajagobal, who left office on Dec 31, 2013, until Dollah Salleh took over on July 1.

While having the final in Bukit Jalil will ensure more fans can watch Malaysia attempt to win their second AFF Cup — four years after they defeated Indonesia — making the trip to the National Stadium is going to be so difficult.

Sigh!

A uniting force

What happened in Sydney on Monday is scary and showed we can’t take life for granted.

A leisurely morning in one of the most popular spots in the city was spoilt when a crazed gunman took over the Lindt Cafe and three people lost their lives.

It certainly puts sports into perspective.

There is so much hatred when rival teams meet and many foul-mouthed fans are not afraid to make their feelings known — even in front of children.

By all means do cheer for your teams, boo your rivals if you feel like doing so or even engage in banter but at the end of the day, it’s just sports.

There is no need to fight — as happened in the first leg semifinal against Vietnam and when Atletico Madrid supporters attacked Deportivo La Caruna fans on Nov 30 which resulted in one death.

Sports is about celebrating life and it can unite people like no other activity can.
Here’s hoping we have a good atmosphere over the two-legged final and to those in Sydney, stay strong.

Graig Nunis is Sports Editor, Malay Mail.  He can be reached at gnunis@mmail.com.my Twitter: @gnunis1892

Friday, December 12, 2014

Bet your last Dollah on Malaysia

As published in Mailsport today



PETALING  JAYA — Call it tactical prowess or luck but Dollah Salleh has a knack of delivering when the odds are against him.
Not many had given Malaysia a shot of reaching the AFF Cup final but Harimau Malaya stunned Vietnam 4-2 in the second leg semifinal in Hanoi last night to set up a mouth-watering two-legged clash against Thailand next week.
Vietnam had won 2-1 at the Shah Alam Stadium on Sunday but Dollah’s five changes to the starting line-up ensured Malaysia prevailed 5-4 on aggregate.
Malaysia cancelled Vietnam’s away goals advantage after 15 minutes.
Safiq Rahim converted a penalty in the third minute, as he cemented his position at the top of the scoring charts with four goals — three from the spot.
Norshahrul Idlan Talaha made the most of a long pass in the 15th minute but Vietnam pulled one back through skipper Le Cong Vinh just seven minutes later.
But it wasn’t long before Malaysia increased their lead again when Dinh Tien Thanh deflected the ball past his goalkeeper Tran Nguyen Manh in the 28th minute.
Skipper Shukor Adan made it 4-1 as the half drew to a close when he sneaked in at the far post to head in a corner.
The home side looked more composed in the second half but Malaysia held firm until the 78th minute when Cong Vinh scored again.
It was a nervy 12 minutes from then on but Vietnam could not get their shots on target despite dominating proceedings.
 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Have we lost our humanity?

As published in Malay Mail today



HARESH SAYS
By Haresh Deol

BLOODIED faces, tears of fear.

That is not the picture one would expect after Áo Đỏ (the nickname of Vietnam’s national football team which means Red Jersey) edged Harimau Malaya 2-1 in the AFF Cup first leg semi final at Shah Alam Stadium on Sunday.

Kicks and punches flew soon as the final whistle was blown. It was an ugly sight that marred the beautiful game. Hooligans tainted the sport, as their stupidity went against fair play, respect and sportsmanship.

Apologies, and plenty of it, emerged as sympathisers pacified Vietnamese supporters hoping our foreign guests do not paint a dark image on Malaysian football supporters. As the Malay saying goes, kerana nila setitik, rosak susu sebelanga (One bad apple spoils the whole barrel).

We can take issue in so many ways. For starters, the FA of Malaysia’s anti-hooliganism campaign launched in February had failed big time.

To put it bluntly, it was just mere lip-service, an eye-wash.

Smoke bombs and flares continued to light up the stands during and after football matches. This was also evident at Sunday’s match. This despite repeated warnings from police and the national body.
Once again, it was mere talk. Period.

But beyond the authorities, one wonders what has happened to humanity.

We carry smartphones and other high-tech equipment but find it right to clobber another human being over a football match. Really?

We saw an image of at least one Vietnam supporter stained in blood, believed to have suffered a cut on his head. There were also pictures of two Vietnamese girls crying, fearing for their safety. One would not expect that from a sporting event.

In Penang, foreigners are found dead almost every week, some with their throats slit while others with their heads and limbs dismembered. There are strong indications of it being communal clashes, based on the series of reports in Malay Mail. It’s brutal. 

Certain quarters are getting peeved over MIC having to undergo a re-election and are demanding for president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel to step down. The greed of fighting for positions in the name of upholding the interest of Indians continues. Yet, the community wonders what exactly has MIC done for them — a question which has also been posed to other political parties. Have we forgotten Maika Holdings, among the many other things?

The lack of logical thought in our daily lives is becoming more apparent. Common sense flushed down the toilet.

And we now live in a world where doing the right thing has now turned “cool” and often glorified. When leaders turun padang (attend the event) we are supposed to celebrate. When a cop nabs a thief, it’s supposed to be plastered on the headlines.

It is like promising your son a Ferrari if he scores straight As. The motivation is not obtaining an education but hoping to get a set of wheels that will turn him into a chick magnet when he enters college. How about that, eh? (sic)

Holding open the elevator door for an elderly lady is now a big deal. If possible, many will want to quickly close the door or pretend not to see the person trying to get in. 

Call for moderation and the need to respect individuals, despite creed, colour or background, and one is dubbed a “hero”.

Then we have the much sought after debate about religion, where the holier-than-thou pretend they are God’s gift to mankind. And when they sense the discussion is not to their preference, they will throw in the ‘my God is better than your God’ card. 

Let’s not tax our brains with such complexity.

When was the last time we smiled at a total stranger serving us food and said “thank you”? Simple actions and words which are rarely mentioned today.

We lack the respect seen by our elders who grew up in the 50s but are somehow still stuck in that era — believing that the masses are yes-men and adopt the herd mentality.

When was the last time we listened, instead of blabbing what we think is right or wrong? When was the last time we sat down and wondered if the views of our minute circle of family and friends are indeed the views of the majority?

What happened to enjoying life and spending quality conversations with your old folks and friends instead of stressing up over silly matters or comments made by individuals who claim to be leaders.
We can take issue with the whole world. But it starts with us.

If each and every one of us played our part and did the right thing, we will make a difference and not allow foolish characters to disrupt our lives — may it be at the stands or during a political rally.

Have we lost our humanity? I hope not.

HARESH is executive editor of Malay Mail. Write to him at haresh@mmail.com.my or on Twitter @HareshDeol

Monday, December 8, 2014

MACC swoop in on top Pahang officials in Cameron Highlands probe

As published in Malay Mail today

By Haresh Deol
haresh@mmail.com.my

KUALA LUMPUR — More than a dozen top Pahang officials are being investigated over dubious land deals in the ecologically-damaged Cameron Highlands.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission  (MACC) has also questioned land owners and other individuals linked to extensive illegal land clearing to cash in on the lucrative vegetable, fruit and flower industry there.

The anti-corruption agency has “stacks of documents” linking high ranking civil servants who approved land clearing between Ringlet and Kampung Raja, located almost 35km apart, sources revealed.

“There are strong indications top government officials from the Land and District Office and other state government agencies are linked to the illegal land clearing in the Camerons,” said the source in the thick of investigations.

“MACC is also looking at land owners and other parties involved in areas where illegal cultivations took place. Documents were seized from offices and investigating officers are scrutinising deals between the parties involved.”

Those from land and district offices transferred in recent years are also under MACC’s radar.

Another source said even former senior officers were hauled up for questioning.

“The investigating team is on the trail of approving officers in the district and land offices and other government agencies. They also know those in cahoots with these government officers and are closing in on them,” the source said.

Sources had told Malay Mail in the past the Cameron Highlands saga could be “as big, if not bigger” than MACC’s crackdown in September against dozens of high-ranking Customs Department officers.

Cameron Highlands, famed for being an agriculture hub and tourist destination, has been plagued with land clearing activities that disrupted its eco-system.

Environmentalists have, for more than a decade, urged the relevant parties, including the state government, to stop deforestation activities.

Trees were chopped to make way for illegal farms and development, causing water to gush straight from the hills to nearby villages during a downpour.

A mudslide on Nov 5 claimed five lives, including that of a 13-year-old boy, as houses and vehicles were destroyed, forcing many to temporarily relocate.

The state government and Cameron Highlands MP Datuk Seri G. Palanivel were slammed over the tragedy. Palanivel is also Natural Resources and Environmental minister.