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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Another Malaysian athlete tests positive for banned substance

UPDATE Oct 21 (11.35am): NST quoted a BAM official saying a top national shuttler is involved in the fiasco. Read more here.


KUALA LUMPUR: After Malaysia’s wushu exponent Tai Cheau Xuen, another Malaysian athlete has failed a drug test, the second doping case within a month. 

The athlete was one of those randomly picked up for an anti-doping test. Malaysian officials are now waiting for the results on the B sample before making any announcement. 

The athlete also took part in the Asian Games but was not among the gold medallists in Incheon, South Korea, so Malaysia’s ranking in the Games will not be affected. 

Read more here.

Those in the industry know who is involved. But could it be more than meets the eye? Jeng, jeng, jeng...

To be fair, let's wait for the results of the B sample before making any judgements.

Till then, majulah sukan untuk negara.

Will replacing the top man in NSC change the fortunes of Malaysian sports?

The Star ran this poll on its website. The print screen of the results was taken on Oct 21, 2014 (12.08am).

Friday, October 17, 2014

Match racing: What's in a name?

This article was written by Malay Mail sports editor Graig Nunis which was published on Wednesday.
MATCH RACING seldom makes the news — except when the Monsoon Cup comes around at the end of the year. 
That’s why the Liga Layar Malaysia (LLM) is a welcome boost for the sport and sailors as it offers competitive match racing all year-round with races in five  venues — Langkawi (February), Lumut (April), Pulau Indah (June and September), Putrajaya (August) and Port Dickson (October). 
More races sharpen the sailors’ skills, give them some much needed publicity and a good return of investment to their sponsors in this extremely expensive sport. The sailors have responded with some good results.
Several of those who competed in the Asian Games were on the crew of the teams in the LLM – although Malaysia’s No. 1 match racer Jeremy Koo (Sime Darby Foundation-Koo Racing Team) narrowly failed to win a medal in that event. That aside, Jeremy, the only Malaysian to compete in the America’s Cup, has been the outstanding skipper in the LLM where he was pushed all the way by navy man Mohd Masyuri Rahmat, (RMNMRT/151OneSails Racing Team) in the race to be crowned champion. 
Jeremy eventually won the title by five points after accumulating 46 points from the six legs. Masyuri, who beat Jeremy in Port Dickson — his first victory over the latter in a final — had 41 points and Nik Ashraf Qaedi Niz Azizan (KFC-MYA RT) finished third (36 points). 
This year’s LLM offered a twist as instead of the winning teams being selected to compete in the Monsoon Cup, the season- ending race of the World Match Racing Tour, the organisers selected two mixed teams. The idea was to select the best sailors from each team to represent Malaysia. 
Jeremy will skipper 1Malaysia Match Racing Team A and has three of his crew with him plus two from rival teams. However, it is strange Masyuri, the second best skipper in the LLM, was not one of the 12 selected. Three of his crew members, however, were chosen. 
As anyone who has covered match racing can tell you, the skipper is the main man as he calls all the shots. That’s why, for example, Datuk Peter Gilmour is introduced as a four-time world champion. There is no mention of his team’s name. 
So it is indeed strange Masyuri was found not worthy to be part of the 1Malaysia teams when third-placed Nik Ashraf Qaedi and Hazwan Hazim Dermawan, who finished eighth with five points, were chosen. Masyuri’s snub brings to mind the 1990 Oscar awards ceremony where Driving Miss Daisy’s Bruce Beresford was not among the nominees for Director of the Year.
It led to host Billy Crystal describing the movie which would eventually win Picture of the Year as “the movie that apparently directed itself.” Similarly, we can ask did RMNMRT/151OneSails Racing Team skipper itself? When contacted, Masyuri said he was extremely disappointed not to be given the opportunity to compete in the Monsoon Cup. He didn’t want to comment further. Nik Ashraf, who turns 25 on Friday and Hazwan, 27, are outstanding skippers, but were they better than Masyuri this season?
How did Hazwan, who won the Malaysian Malaysian Racing Circuit – the predecessor to LLM — in 2009 to compete in that year’s Monsoon Cup, earn his spot? What about the skippers who finished fourth to seventh? Why the need to have two skippers for Team B? Who will be given the nod to lead the team? 
As it is, there is talk the sailors are not happy with the selection process and several of those selected may not report for a centralised training camp in Port Dickson starting on Friday. There will be two more training camps in Terengganu and Johor. 
Also, why deprive the teams from competing under their sponsor’s name? How are the sailors going to convince future sponsors to come on board if they are not allowed to use their name in the biggest match racing event in the world? 
Jeremy, who has emerged as the Malaysian champion for five straight years, has just secured funding from Sime  Darby Foundation. If he and his three crew members were to compete under 1Malaysia Match Racing Team A, how will that benefit Sime Darby? 
Why is it so important to use the 1Malaysia branding? Couldn’t the organisers come up with a less cliche name? If they really need to use the 1Malaysia brand, why not combine it with the team’s sponsors’ name such as a food and beverage brand/MYA 1Malaysia Racing Team? This way, the sailors get to please their sponsors and the organisers can please whoever they are aiming to please. 
It’s enough to drive anyone nuts

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Highways no more than cosmetic effect

Haresh Says, as published in Malay Mail today.

IF the buildings could talk, they would have plenty to tell.
Constructed in the early 1900s when Ampang was thriving with the mining scene, the old buildings along Jalan Besar Ampang in Pekan Lama Ampang still stand strong even till today.
The township, located in the east of Kuala Lumpur, has seen rapid development. Jalan Ampang was one of the very few main arteries into the city centre, connecting the very many tin mines to the heart of town. But in recent years, it has been notoriously famous for massive congestion as many used alternative roads including the Ampang-KL Elevated Highway (AKLEH) or even the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2).
What used to be rubber estates and thick jungle were slowly cleared to make way for housing development.
Jalan Ampang and parts of Ampang Hilir was later called the “Embassy Row” as foreign nations bought plots of land to establish their diplomatic offices in what has and still remains as the “exclusive” part of town.
Drive past the overhead bridge near Ampang Point and there onwards, till the road ends at Bukit Belacan, is Selangor. Commercial buildings and housing development continue to mushroom in inner Ampang. While some had, and still consider, this part of town as the “end of the world”, prices of houses have escalated to ridiculous figures. Freehold land is sacred and a new double-storey house (20x70, intermediate) is nothing less than RM850,000.
As the population in Ampang increases drastically, there is a serious need to address the traffic situation.
Many believe the best solution is by constructing highways. This is seen through the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang (SUKE) highway and East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE). 
Residents have objected to it, not wanting to relocate. Environmentalists say the construction of EKVE, which bypasses a forest reserve, will threaten flora and fauna, cause erosion and jeopardise air quality.
Even a 160-odd-year-old Buddhist Temple — the Ampang Amithaba located beside the Ampang LRT station — faces a bleak future as it would have to be demolished. The Ampang traffic police station is expected to be torn down too and it remains to be seen if a similar fate awaits the nearby old building block — with one shoplot dating 1913. If the building is spared, hopefully the construction works nearby would not jeapordise its structure.
The construction of the highways will begin next year, as revealed during the tabling of the 2015 Budget last Friday.
There are those, however, who stress highways are a temporary solution. In fact, highways will only encourage a larger number of vehicles to be on the roads, further contributing to pollution and congestion.
An excerpt from the book ‘Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream’ by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck published in 2000 stated:
“There is, however, a much deeper problem than the way highways are placed and managed. It raises the question of why we are still building highways at all. The simple truth is that building more highways and widening existing roads, almost always motivated by concern over traffic, does nothing to reduce traffic.
“In the long run, in fact, it increases traffic. This revelation is so counter-intuitive that it bears repeating: adding lanes makes traffic worse.
“This paradox was suspected as early as 1942 by Robert Moses, who noticed that the highways he had built around New York City in 1939 were somehow generating greater traffic problems than had existed previously. Since then, the phenomenon has been well documented, most notably in 1989, when the Southern California Association of Governments concluded that traffic-assistance measures, be they adding lanes, or even double-decking the roadways, would have no more than a cosmetic effect on Los Angeles’ traffic problems.”
Even with AKLEH and MRR2, Ampang, like many parts of the Klang Valley, remain congested.
Instead of spending money on highways, wouldn’t improving the public transportation system be a more logical solution? This would help minimise pollution, ensure time and resources is not wasted on the road and maximise productivity. The government, had in 1996, initiated a car-pooling campaign but it failed.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) president Datuk N. Marimuthu, was quoted by national news agency Bernama in 2006 as saying:
“Most Malaysians are self-centred individuals. The desire for comfort and privacy as well as apprehension and doubts towards others usually discourage couples from sharing their ride.”
The authors of the book best sum the situation.
“Because people are willing to suffer inordinately in traffic before seeking alternatives — other than clamoring for more highways — the state of equilibrium of all busy roads is to have stop-and-go traffic. The question is not how many lanes must be built to ease congestion but how many lanes of congestion would you want? Do you favour four lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic at rush hour, or sixteen?”
We must study our transportation system thoroughly and this includes providing quality public transportation service that connects every part of town. Building highways may help ease the situation to a certain extent, but there must be balance. We must be mindful of our eco-system and surroundings.
If the old buildings at Pekan Lama Ampang could express themselves, they would sigh and even shed a tear — history in the area will be erased in the name of development.

Haresh is executive editor of Malay Mail. He can be reached at or on Twitter @HareshDeol

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Chief secretary says OK to hunt new NSC man

The sports ministry has the green light to advertise for a new National Sports Council (NSC) supremo as Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa confirmed the position is open to anyone as long as it benefits the country.

"The sports minister (Khairy Jamaluddin) has spoken to me regarding advertising for the post of NSC supremo," Ali confirmed.

"We are open to the suggestion. What's important is for the objectives to be met. Whoever is appointed must meet the key performance index set by the ministry. This is for the sake of Malaysian sports."

Read more in Malay Mail.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Remembering past, knowing the present

Haresh Says, as published in Malay Mail today.

Selfie Pulla, a song from Vijay’s latest movie Kaththi, blared loudly.

A foreigner, clearly with the tune stuck in his head, shook his head as his female companion was mesmerised with the colourful bangles displayed at a nearby stall.

The smell of fresh apam completes the adventure of senses while walking along Jalan Tun Sambanthan in Brickfields on Monday.

Locals took advantage of the Aidiladha break to prepare for Deepavali. As for the tourists, it was a natural destination.

But Kuala Lumpur’s ‘Little India’ is more than just Indian food, DVDs of latest Tamil movies or fashionable Punjabi suits.

It is ‘big’ in history — which sadly many fail to appreciate.

Once referred by the locals as Batu Limabelas (15th mile), its humble beginnings was thanks to Chinese Kapitan Yap Ah Loy. Born Yap Tet Loy, the China migrant of Hakka descent, who was also known as Yap Moa Lan, played an instrumental role in developing Kuala Lumpur and gave it a new look — literally.

Kuala Lumpur was once a jungle, with wooden houses accompanied by attap roofs scattered everywhere. A major fire in 1881 and severe flooding prompted British Resident in Selangor Frank Swettenham to instruct buildings be constructed with bricks.

Yap bought a large piece of land and established a bricks kiln. That is how, as historians and academicians say, Brickfields got its name. The act of supplying bricks introduced a new dimension to the architecture of buildings in Kuala Lumpur. As documented in the paper ‘The History of Yap Ah Loy’ produced by Kongsi NetWorks: “The brickworks is now gone, but nevertheless had left its mark on the outskirts of today’s Kuala Lumpur known as Brickfields.”

As Brickfields undergoes massive redevelopment — a spanking new green building in the form of Menara Shell, a massive shopping mall called Nu Sentral and a fancy fountain — reminiscences of its past still linger through the Buddhist Maha Vihara temple and the Vivekananda Ashram.

The watt was founded in 1894 by the Sasana Abhiwurdhi Wardhana Society, the oldest registered Buddhist Society in the Klang Valley.

The Vivekananda Ashram was named after the great Indian spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda, who visited Malaya in June 1893. The 110-year-old building was said to be part of the Ramakrishna Missions and has been a venue for a variety of arts and cultural programmes.

There were threats to demolish in 2004, but it was later rightfully declared a heritage building.
“But I wish more would be done to maintain it. It is a part of our nation’s history ... it is what is left of the old Brickfields,” said M. Paramasivam, 58.

A yoga instructor, Paramasivam, also known as Brother Param, has spent some 25 years of his life at the Ashram.

“I was a yoga student 25 years ago and today I am an instructor. There are several activities such as Indian cultural music sessions and meditation but visitors are only allowed in during these sessions.”
Paramasivam remains fascinated with the architecture of the building.

“I even got a contractor to come over to see the design of the Ashram before renovating my house.”
As paint peels off, windows cracked and leaking roofs, Paramasivam hoped more will be done to maintain the place.

“I wish people will appreciate our old buildings, including this Ashram.”

George Heng remembers establishing his sports apparel shop Mesuma Sports Sdn Bhd in the area more than three decades ago.

“Brickfields was peaceful then. I could park my car anywhere!” Heng exclaimed.

“Now it is so messed up. It became inconvenient for my customers due to heavy traffic and inadequate parking. I had to move out.”

Heng remembers the good food in Brickfields.

“When you say banana leaf (rice) or kari kepala ikan (fish head curry), it had to be in Brickfields. The Pines had good food too. Sadly, it is not like what it used to be.”

He said salesmen used to stay at Lido Hotel or Peking Hotel before they got around selling their goods the following day. Another landmark in the area was the Lido theatre near the YMCA building. Now a bank sits on the spot.

Brickfields, like many parts of the country, has been robbed of its history. Football fields, once graced by football legends including Datuk Soh Chin Aun and Datuk Santokh Singh, have vanished.

Sporting clubs including the Selangor Chinese Recreation Club and Tamil Physical and Cultural Association (set up in 1911) no longer exist there.

Development is necessary. But spare a thought for our fascinating past. Just like many parts of the country, such heritage must be salvaged and preserved to understand our roots better.

As JM Gullick wrote in his book ‘Old Kuala Lumpur’: “This is the Kuala Lumpur of the modern age. If its citizen groan a little at some of its features, this is their lifestyle. The city could not be the capital of a prosperous and progressive nation state in any other way.

“All that the historians can suggest – and this is the theme of these pages – is that the modern age should understand that it has been the heir to a community which left its legacy. Even now it is there to be seen in places, and where it can be preserved, it should be cherished. This is not mere nostalgia.

“There are authorities such as the Dewan Bandaraya (City Hall) and bodies such as the Badan Warisan Malaysia (Heritage of Malaysia Trust) which have done good work to conserve and explain the relics of the past to the citizens and the visitors of these days. May it continue so.”