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Thousand apologies for being polite

Haresh Says, as published in Mailsport today.

 
IT was witty yet riddled with sarcasm — a back page that would have caused Newcastle manager Alan Pardew to choke on the bacon roll he had for breakfast.  
 
England’s Sunday Sun ridiculed Pardew, in an ‘apologetic’ fashion, as the Magpies recorded a series of losses with the recent being a 1-0 defeat to Stoke on Saturday in the Premier League. This was after Pardew blamed the local press for the fans’ anger following the team’s poor outing.
 
It was a clever effort, more cheeky than anything else, but it got the message across loud and clear.
In short it read:

Dear Mr Pardew,
Enough of blaming the Press.
You are the reason why the fans are hopping mad.

Now imagine a similar piece plastered on our back pages.
 
To be fair, most sports journos in Malaysian have the upper hand of being rather critical and ‘aggressive’, to a certain extent, compared to their counterparts in other desks. 
But this was during the days where sports officials understood the true principals of sportsmanship and fair play.
 
Colleagues recalled days where former National Sports Council director general Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahamd would take criticism with stride but he never threatened to sue any pressman for their work — right or wrong.
 
KL Football Association president Datuk Astaman Aziz has had disagreements over some articles published but it was always resolved over a cup of tea. The same could be said of former FA of Malaysia general-secretary Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad as we still enjoyed a cordial relationship.
 
These are true ‘sportsmen’. Sadly, there aren’t many of them around.
 
In recent years, reporters have been gagged with legal suits, threats and some even banned from entering stadiums. Reports which were seen to be against the establishment or organisation were frowned upon, regardless if they were written in a fair and truthful manner.
 
And we also have sports officials, some being government servants, who tend to dictate terms, lording over the domestic sports scene even if it does not concern them.
 
Of course if all fails, those who feel victimised could seek justice through the legal process.
But let’s put it this way, most of our back pages are still ‘polite’ to the officials.

Civil servants are not above the law

Speaking of justice, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had last week said “punitive action should be taken against those responsible” over the RM1.6 million K-pop fiasco during the National Youth Day celebration last year.
 
It was widely reported the three K-pop groups — U-Kiss, Teen-Top and Dal Shabet — were brought in by Stadium First Sdn Bhd.
 
The spotlight seems to only hog over former Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek but what about those behind Stadium First and the administrators, current and former, who were well aware of the deal?
 
A day later, the High Court, had on April 11, ruled absolute immunity for public servants has no place in a progressive democratic society.
 
This was said by Judicial Commissioner Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera in dismissing an application by the public prosecutor and 11 others to strike out a civil suit filed by former Commercial Crimes Investigation Department director Datuk Ramli Yusuff against them and another similar application by lawyer Rosli Dahlan against the Attorney-General and 10 others.
 
In short, the PAC and courts spoke in a similar tone — civil SERVANTS are not above the law and they should be accountable for their actions. 
 
Sports officials must be subjected to the same scrutiny. After all, it does involve the Rakyat’s money and not to mention millions of corporate sponsorship. 
 
Otherwise, we could ‘politely’ run an apologetic back page to say sorry for the millions of tax payers’ money wasted by government servants and officials in the name of sporting excellence.

HARESH is editor (investigations and special projects) of the Malay Mail. Banter with him at haresh@mmail.com.my or on Twitter @HareshDeol

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