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Sunday, November 29, 2015

New AFC general secretary ‘wishes dad was here’

As published in Sunday Mail today

By Haresh Deol

KUALA LUMPUR —  Kedahan Datuk Windsor Paul John was named Asian Football Confederation (AFC) general secretary on Friday, an appointment he wished his dad could have seen.

John, who was the deputy general secretary, was made acting general secretary after Datuk Alex Soosay was suspended in May following an internal investigation over a controversial “tamper or hide” video exposed by Malay Mail on April 25. Soosay quit on June 17.

Mailsport had on June 18 quoted insiders as saying John was “most likely” to occupy the hot seat. 
He joined a host of Malaysians who served as general secretary, including 

Datuk Peter Velappan (1978-2007) and another Kedahan, Datuk Paul Mony Samuel (2007-2009).
“It’s a great honour for the (AFC) executive committee to recognise my capabilities and have faith in me. There are many new things, especially reforms introduced, for us to move forward and I am happy to be part of that,” said John, 54, who was in New Dehli to attend the executive committee meeting.

“But it is sad that my dad is not around to see this. He would have been a proud man.”

John’s father was a former national referee and a former headmaster who last served at SJKT Saraswathy in Sungai Petani. He died in 2002 at the age of 80. 

John is no stranger to the local football scene. The former school teacher from Kedah played for the state’s youth team and later turned trainer for Selangor in 1992. He then coached the Selangor President’s Cup team in 1994. He went on to hold various positions in several organisations, including the FA of Malaysia, and the Asean Football Federation before joining Fifa as its development officer in 2001. He had been with AFC since 2012.

AFC president Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifah said during the meeting that AFC had seen the recruitment of new, motivated and highly professional executives, which would now be under the permanent direction of the “outstanding” John. 

Salman was eager to see AFC move away from the scandals involving his predecessor Mohamed Hammam. In 2011, Fifa banned Hammam from football for life after being found guilty of attempted bribery. 

The Qatari was earlier accused of attempting to buy votes ahead of a Fifa presidential election which he was contesting in that same year. Sepp Blatter won the election. 

Salman, a member of the Bahrain royal family, is also in the running for the top spot in next year’s Fifa election.

Former AFC financial director Bryan Kuan Wee Hoong was replaced by Chandra Mohan after his contract ended on Oct 31. 

Kuan had, in the explosive video, claimed Soosay had said “protect me” before asking “can you tamper or hide any documents that relate to me?”. The video was recorded by former Fifa investigator Michael J. Pride on July 26, 2012.

John said he is blessed to have a supportive family.

His mother, Mary Shirley, 75, wife Datin Jane Jasantha, 47, son Steven Paul, 22, daughters Sherina Mary, 21, and Shelina Mary, 16, said they were accustomed to his hectic schedule.

“I’ve already been doing the job (as acting general secretary) and my family has been supportive since day one. 

“I’m a football man, something my wife has understood and appreciated even before we got married. She knows when it comes to me, it’s all about football,” he said in jest.

“There have been new roles and fresh faces filling up key positions, mainly in the technical, finance, communications, refereeing, development and strategy departments. It is part of our process to move forward. We want to move forward.”

Being Frank: Bad ‘guardians’ take zing out of wonderkid’s feat

As published in Sunday Mail today

Being Frank
By Frankie D’Cruz

MALAYSIA’S newest sporting hero, sprinter Badrul Hisyam Abdul Manap, 18, should be a household name. Sadly, he isn’t so. Certain media don’t even get the spelling of his name right. That’s disappointing.

Badrul who clocked 10.29s to break Watson Nyambek’s 17-year national 100m record by one-tenth of a second last Monday is one of the best stories this year. Sadly, his story has not gripped the nation. That’s depressing.

The schoolboy’s spectacular achievement is one of the defining moments of Malaysian athletics, yet it has been virtually ignored by the authorities including the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) that has had a series of poor stories in recent years.

The education and youth and sports ministries also failed to make Badrul, a young inspiring Malaysian, top news. Here’s the thing: at a time when the authorities are struggling to encourage the young to excel in sports, the story of a kid who chased chicken in his kampung in Malacca and renewed Malaysia’s sprinting prowess is a motivational, feel good narrative.     

Being the heart of this sprinting rejuvenation, Badrul was part of another golden moment at the Asean Schools Games in Brunei last week when he led the 4x100m quartet of Mohd Haiqal Hanafi, Asnawi Hashim and Khairul Hafiz Jantan to another gold as Malaysia claimed their ninth title in track and field. 

Remarkably, the boys — all Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) students — clocked 39.86s, just off the national record of 39.67s.

While some media missed the record-breaking 100m feat, Malay Mail sports editor Graig Nunis was scrambling for Badrul’s picture after he had chanced on the story. The MAF, operating without a media officer, didn’t have one.

Nunis, with the help of Malay Mail specialist sportswriter, Tony Mariadass, sought the help of SSTMI principal Suhaimi Sun Abdullah who gladly passed on what he had. It made back page lead.
The education and youth and sports ministries, as well as the MAF fluffed the golden opportunity to capitalise on the track wonder who made struggling athletics relevant in 10.29 seconds. 
Clearly, it was a walking public relations nightmare. You got to hand it to them: they found a way to give the nation an encore to the disingenuous way they left Badrul’s story by the wayside.
Perhaps, they had no faith in him — even if this was the lad who clocked 20.88s at the Universiti Malaysia Perlis Athletics Open five weeks ago, only for tailwind exceeding 2.0m/s not to be recognised as breaking Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan’s record of 20.92s set at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

The narrative for the success of athletes is often punctuated by inspirational performances accompanied by wide publicity especially when it involves one, like Badrul, who has all the tools to become an icon of athletics.

It’s our love of sport and an endearing story that bring us all together. We’re united by those little individual passions that ignite sports — and recognise that together we can achieve so much more.
Unless we pass that passion on to the next generation, we’ll never know what kind of talent walks through the doors of our schools day in and day out.

Because every child, in every part of the country, deserves to find that one sport they are really passionate about — and I’m convinced the government and national sports bodies are the ones to turn that national vision into a local reality.

When we talk about heroes, we envision those who are making a mark on the nation, the world, one act at a time.

We should think of ourselves as one big family — celebrating the exemplary behaviour of our everyday heroes. 

Acts that display motivation, perseverance and passion deserve recognition, and these are the stories we love to uncover and share. These are the people who arouse our spirit and we are obliged to celebrate them.

Frankie is editor emeritus of Malay Mail. He can be reached at or Twitter: @dcruzfrankie

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

HARESH SAYS: Please help ailing taxi industry

As published in Malay Mail today

By Haresh Deol

WE sat at the corner of a rather dingy eatery near the former Rothman’s roundabout in Petaling Jaya. It was there that Kumar shared his taxi driving tales over some tomyam.

“It’s not pretty … just like this place,” he said, slurping the spicy dish while stray cats stared at us, hoping for a morsel.

In his mid-30s, Kumar is a frustrated man. He thought he could make an honest living as a taxi driver in Kuala Lumpur.

“But I hardly make anything these days,” he sighed.

Kumar bought a second-hand taxi — a 2010 Proton Saga BLM — from a taxi company in 2013. He paid a down payment of RM2,500 and his “loan” had him paying RM47 daily for two years and five months. The daily payment includes the car loan, driver’s permit fee, installation of a natural gas vehicle (NGV) tank and insurance.

Once he finishes paying the loan, the car will be his. But if he plans to continue driving, Kumar will have to pay RM27 daily as ‘‘rent’’ for a driver’s permit, and an additional RM2 for the NGV tank.

We quickly did the math. Kumar’s second-hand cab will cost him RM41,360. The car will finally be his, but he will only have three options – to sell the car (at a loss), to utilise it as a private car or to continue driving it as a taxi by “renting” the permit from the taxi company.

“It’s expensive. But many are forced to opt for this scheme as they do not have financial means, are blacklisted by banks or do not have a driver’s permit,” he said.

“I wish the permits were given to individuals instead of companies.”

But the government had declared that permits were to be awarded to companies, instead of individuals, to regulate the industry, I pointed out.

“Rubbish. If it is regulated, then why are beat-up taxis still operating? Why aren’t taxi drivers wearing their uniforms instead of just hanging a white shirt on their seats? Why are cabbies ferrying passengers without using meters?”

He said cabbies, who are stationed at the Kelana Jaya LRT station, often charged a flat rate. As such, commuters either cross to the other side of the road to flag a cab or get down at Taman Bahagia LRT station to get a taxi from there.

Malay Mail had on numerous occasions highlighted the deplorable condition of taxis and cabbies who refused to use meters.

“I am contemplating becoming a Uber or Grabcar driver. Less hassle and you actually get more passengers.

“Two years ago, taxis will line up to pick up passengers from condominiums. Today, you will only see a handful. The rest are mostly private vehicles. Grabcar is cheaper than taxis, the drivers drive new cars and just look at the number of drivers on the road,” he said, while showing me the Grabcar application on his smartphone.

Kumar said he was ashamed with the behaviour of some of his peers who were rude and acted like thugs.

He said the industry was getting extremely competitive and has no place for rogue taxi drivers. More drivers are thinking of leaving the trade if the present state of affairs continue.

“It’s also better for me to be a Grabcar driver as I don’t have to worry about inspections, uniforms and I can drive my car out of Klang Valley anytime without requesting permission from the authorities.”

City cabs are only allowed to operate in the Klang Valley. 

It came as no surprise that cabbies voiced their displeasure against Grabcar and Uber. Some 500 of them gathered at Padang Merbok on Nov 18, demanding the government take action against ride-sharing services. They also demanded the resignation of Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar. The drivers made their way to Parliament and were greeted by opposition MPs who promised to fight their cause.

The drivers are tired of being kicked around like a ball. Klang Valley Taxi Drivers Action Committee president Zailani Isa Usuludinf was quoted as saying SPAD claimed the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had the power to shut these ride-sharing applications. However, MCMC said it was SPAD which should do it.

The authorities must address this issue by coming down hard on rogue cabbies and injecting some pride and dignity into the industry. Taxi drivers are the nation’s “ambassadors”. 

Enforcement, or the lack of it, is the root cause of the issues faced by the industry. As such, rogue cabbies roam the streets, further bruising the industry’s image. We don’t need these thugs as they create a wrong impression about Malaysians. As for ride-sharing services, it is clear there is a lacuna in the regulations. Competition is healthy and must be encouraged, but it should be on a level-playing field — across the board. 

If the authorities do not want to rock the boat, then let’s just forget about the taxis and fixing an already ailing industry. Just allow Uber and Grabcar to dominate. It will make life easy for everyone — no regulations, no permits required, no inspections needed — leaving everyone to their own devices.

Just like the filthy eatery that violates every single by-law but still operates daily near the five-foot way where Kumar and I met, no one cares. It has been mere talk thus far.

Here is a plea on behalf of true blue taxi drivers — please help the deserving many. Take a cab and listen to their stories. You will then know why.

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

Friday, November 20, 2015

Former Badminton Association of Malaysia presidents

1934-1937: John L. Woods
1947-1949: Lim Chuan Geok
1949:        Heah Joo Seang
1950-1953: Khoo Teik Foo
1954-1959: Heah Joo Seang
1960:     Low Hoot Yeang
1961-1985: Tan Sri Mohd Khir Johari
1985-1993: Tan Sri Elyas Omar
1993-2000: Datuk Dr Abdullah Fadzil Che Wan
2000-2013: Datuk Sri Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh
2013-2015: Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff
Oct 18, 2015 (acting president):   Tan Sri Al Amin Mohamed Al-Amin Abd Majid

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

HARESH SAYS: We need to secure our stadiums

As published in Malay Mail today.

By Haresh Deol
THEY gathered at the Stade de France, eager to see two world class football teams in action.

France hosted Germany in an international friendly in Paris last Friday, as 80,000 fans chanted, took selfies and cheered for their favourite players in action.

But the smiles quickly turned into panic, and for some, tears.

Those at the stands, including French President Francois Hollande, were jolted following terror attacks that hit various parts of the French capital. They later learnt one of the three bombs set off near the arena was supposed to be detonated inside the stadium.

Authorities said an explosion at the terrace would have triggered a deadly stampede.

The death toll of 129 could have increased to thousands. Bodies would be seen all over the field as some of the best footballers in the world would have also been killed.

Those in the stadium have one man to thank — an unidentified security personnel.

Security guard Zouheir, who was initially presumed to be the hero, said one of his colleagues turned the terrorist away after frisking the suspect. The attacker, who bought a ticket and tried to enter 15 minutes after the kick-off, instead detonated the vest outside the stadium.

I cringed immediately upon hearing the news, fearing the same could happen in Malaysia.

Having covered matches at various stadiums nationwide for the past 15 years, security, or lack of it, has always been an issue.

Spectators have easily smuggled explosives into the venues. And this is not restricted to football matches but also other competitions, including the annual Malaysia Open badminton tournament and hockey competitions — domestic and international.

Flares and smoke bombs are now a feature during M-League and international matches hosted here. Despite repeated reminders and warnings from the authorities, such prohibited items are still brought into the venue — evident that security is lax.

In 2013, a policeman found a loaded Browning pistol in a toilet during the Malaysia Cup final at the Shah Alam Stadium. Selangor police said the firearm did not belong to any police personnel on duty during the final between Pahang and Kelantan.

Former graphic designer Ahmad Jazimin Mohd Jalaludin lost his right eye after a firecracker exploded in his face during the Malaysia-Singapore football match at the National Stadium in 2011. It could have been worse.

Media personnel who have covered matches are able to share first-hand experience of how fans intrude into their working areas. Such venues are easily accessible, especially those outside the Klang Valley, when there is no activity — allowing those with ill-intention to plan attacks.

Cameras at our stadiums are mostly faulty. Investigators often rely on the media and broadcasters to identify culprits in the

Who do we blame?

Most football teams in Malaysia do not own stadiums. They are left at the mercy of the local councils, who manage and maintain such facilities. Most local councils struggle to repair roads, let alone maintain sporting facilities.

It must be noted that most of our stadiums also host concerts, gatherings and school competitions.

Last Friday’s attacks serve as a wake-up call. The terrorists targeted a sporting venue and a concert hall. It is a hit not only on Parisians but also on the sporting and music industries. Even the English Premier League yesterday said it would issue new security guidelines to its clubs following the attacks.

Security, especially at stadiums and venues, must never be compromised. It is time we upgrade our surveillance system in and around such facilities.

Cameras must be strategically placed and functional 24-7, recording every single movement in and around such venues.

Those in charge of security must ensure all who enter the stadium, VIPs included, be thoroughly screened.

Our security personnel must know what an explosive belt or suicide vest looks like.

I remember watching Paris St Germain play Bordeaux at the Parc des Princes in 2010. I went through three levels of security checks before I made it to my seat.

Why can’t we adopt the same policy here?

Some may argue recruiting security personnel will be pricey. Isn’t it wiser for teams or organisers to spend money on security personnel instead of serving karipap, mee hoon and tea to a select few during half-time?

With only a sticker that can be easily doctored, one is able to enter the parking bays usually restricted for officials. That, too, can pose a serious security breach.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein had recently revealed Malaysian leaders were on the hit list and that the incident in Paris can also happen here. Hours later, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar revealed five more suspected militants were arrested last week and that one of them had planned to launch attacks in the Klang Valley.

Such threats are real. We cannot be complacent. We cannot adopt the tidak-apa attitude. We cannot say such things will not happen here.

The Malaysia Cup final will be held at the Shah Alam Stadium on Dec 12. With a sitting capacity of 80,000, it is usually a sellout during the final.

Let’s hope the FA of Malaysia, for one, will beef up security then.

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Former national football coaches (Malaya and Malaysia)

Former national football coaches 
1940 - 1950: Neoh Boon Hean 
1950 - 1956: Edwin Dutton
1956 - 1959: Choo Seng Quee 
1960 - 1964: Otto Westphal 
1964 - 1966: C. De Silva 
1967 - 1968: Peter Velappan 
1969:             Abdul Ghani Minhat
1969 - 1970: Harold Hassall 
1970 - 1971: Dave McLaren 
1972:            Jalil Che Din 
1973:            Tam Sitwa 
1973 - 1977: M. Kuppan 
1974:            Jalil Che Din
1978:            Chow Kwai Lam 
1979 - 1982: Karl-Heinz Weigang 
1982 - 1983: M. Chandran 
1983 - 1985: Frank Lord 
1985 - 1986: Mohamad Bakar 
1986 - 1987: Jozef VengloŇ° 
1987:            Abdul Rahman Ibrahim
1988:            Richard Bate 
1988:            M. Chandran 
1989:            Trevor Hartley 
1990:            Muhammad Syadiq 
1991:            Rahim Abdullah 
1992 - 1993: Ken Worden 
1994 - 1995: Claude Le Roy 
1995:            Hatem Souisi 
1996 - 1997: Wan Jamak Wan Hassan
1998:            Hatem Souisi 
1999 - 2000: Abdul Rahman Ibrahim
2001 - 2004: Allan Harris 
2004:            Datuk K. Rajagobal 
2004 - 2005: Bertalan Bicskei 
2005 - 2007: Norizan Bakar 
2007 - 2008: B. Sathianathan 
2009 - 2014: Datuk K. Rajagobal
2014:            Datuk Ong Kim Swee (interim)
2014 - 2015: Dollah Salleh
2015:            Datuk Ong Kim Swee (interim)

List of Sports Commissioners in Malaysia

List of Sports Commissioners

1998 - 1999:  Datuk Ahmad Bakri Shabdin 
1999 - 2005:  Datuk Mahamad Zabri Min
2005 - 2008:  Tan Sri Elyas Omar
2008 - 2010:  Datuk Nik Mahmud Nik Yusof 
2010 - 2013:  Datuk Yassin Salleh
2013 - 2015: (Datuk) Ahmad Shapawi Ismail
2015 - present: Datuk Zaiton Othman 

* Tenure takes into account annual leave periods.
+ Shapawi was the only non “titled” person to be SC