Skip to main content

HARESH SAYS: National attire saga continues

As published in Malay Mail today


HARESH SAYS
By Haresh Deol

THE national attire hogs the limelight for the not-so-right reason, yet again.
 
Mesuma Sports Sdn Bhd had last week initiated legal proceedings against the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) after the sports company claimed it was not given the opportunity to exercise the right of first refusal to extend its sponsorship agreement for another four years as stated in the agreement between both parties. 
 
Mesuma Sports has been providing the national contingent the tiger-stripe jersey since 2006 until it got into a spat with National Sports Council (NSC) over the ownership of the design in 2011.
 
While Mesuma Sports' George Heng has every right to proceed with legal action, some have questioned the timing as it comes before the OCM elections on Aug 22. Those contesting for positions are already going to town with the news as Mesuma Sports had also named OCM president Tunku Imran Jaafar, vice-president Datuk Low Beng Choo and long-time secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi in the suit.
 
Disputes over the national attires are not new.
 
Decades ago, Yonex was associated with the national athletes. There was no specific design or agreement as the sponsorship deal was perceived as “goodwill”. 
 
However, when Kuala Lumpur hosted the 1989 SEA Games, NSC decided it should provide the national contingent with uniformed kits. Another sports apparel company, Antioni, was associated with the national athletes before the government decided to inject a fresh breath of life for the jersey.
In 2005, a nationwide competition was held to introduce a uniformed theme for national athletes. 
 
Assistant architect Zulkifli Abdul Aziz from Johor won the contest that saw over 4,000 entries. The winning design was then tweaked by Limkokwing University College before it was launched by then deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak the same year.
 
Present at the launch in Putrajaya were then youth and sports minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said and Low, who was then the chef de mission to the Manila SEA Games.
Mesuma Sports was given the honour to produce the jerseys, which were originally five stripes but later reduced to three stripes to make it “commercial friendly”. 
 
The sports apparel company, based in Brickfields for decades before shifting to its new premises in Petaling Jaya, had established a close working relationship with NSC. 
So close that Heng and former NSC director-general Datuk Seri Zolkples Embong enjoyed a cordial relationship, evident throughout the 2007 SEA Games in Korat, Thailand.
 
But the situation turned sour in 2011.
 
NSC entered into an agreement with Telekom Malaysia to launch the Team Malaysia Panthera jersey on April 28 that year. Present to launch the jersey was then youth and sports minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.
 
Mesuma was unhappy as it was the registered proprietor of the trademark for 10 years from July 9, 2009 to July 9, 2019. The issue was then exposed by Malay Mail.
 
Former NSC director-general Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz, had in 2011, told this newspaper no efforts were made to register the tiger stripes. This was said during a meeting at NSC in Bukit Jalil which saw Zolkples leaving the room abruptly, saying he had “another function to attend”.
 
Following a series of threats and animosity, NSC sued Mesuma. The government agency claimed it was the rightful proprietor of the design. The judgments in the High Court and Court of Appeal were in favour of NSC. The case is now awaiting Federal Court judgment.
 
I doubt Heng and Zolkples ever spoke after that. The relationship among the others was also strained. 
 
It showed how some people were overly ‘passionate’ about our national jersey.
 
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin did not want to inherit this problem. A new design was introduced last year.
 
The ministry took extra precaution to ensure the new design would not meet with bad publicity. 
 
This included sending representatives to meet sports reporters days before the launch, hoping for good press. 
 
While there are those who believed Melinda Looi did a good job in transforming a “boring and ugly" design, others felt the new creation looked like mud splattered on a jersey. 
 
Yonex was back in the fold as the new brand for the national jersey.
 
Mesuma Sports claimed OCM had entered into an agreement with Sunrise & Co Ltd as the official sports attire sponsor for the Malaysian contingent to official multi-sports games under the Yonex brand from 2014 to 2020. 
 
An OCM insider said to the contrary. He claimed OCM was “clueless” about the ministry engaging Looi and adopting a new design, including a new apparel partner. 
 
Apparently they did not want to “offend” the minister and as such agreed to adopt the new design.
 
By convention, NSC provides the apparel for the opening ceremony. What the athletes use during competition is based on the sponsorship deals by the national sports association. OCM will provide tracksuits, shoes and T-shirts used before and after competition. 
 
Will this new case be detrimental to those contesting the elections? Some said no. 
 
In fact, it should be seen as just a clear-cut business deal that did not go down well with one party (i.e. Mesuma Sports) and as such they have exercised their legal rights to allow the courts to judge. 
 
Others believe the delegates will question OCM for allowing this to happen. Many also ask if there was a tender process prior to Yonex being named as the new sponsor.
 
Delegates will also have to be mindful of individuals who already hog numerous positions in sports. 
 
Commercial agreements between stakeholders and sponsors can no longer be treated lightly. Such 
disputes will only scare potential sponsors. Disputes will occur but the manner in which they are handled will make a difference. One would hope fairplay and sportsmanship, in such instances, prevail.  
 
Hopefully such episodes will not jeapordise the spirit of those donning our national kit. Will this be the last of the national attire saga? We shall see.

HARESH is executive editor of Malay Mail. He can be reached at haresh@mmail.com.my 
Twitter @HareshDeol

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What went wrong with KL SEA Games?

145 gold medals.
It's the best Team Malaysia has ever achieved since the inception of the SEAP Games in1959.
The 29th edition of the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur ended yesterday. The opening ceremony dazzled those at the stands and viewers at home while the performances during the closing ceremony yesterday jogged plenty of musical memories to many.
Our athletes, the real superheroes, brought smiles through their heroic display. They made everyday a happy day.
Kudos to the officials - from the coaches, the National Sports Institute and National Sports Council - for their hard work in ensuring our athletes perform to their best.
But it was not all memorable.
From

'World fashion disaster' in KL

World Fashion Week Asia 2017 ended over the weekend.

And the launch on Friday at Palace of the Golden Horses at Mines Resort City just outside Kuala Lumpur turned out to be a forgettable night.

Why?

It was poorly organised.

Just as many are trying to get over the nightmare witnessed throughout the KL SEA Games, the organiser of World Fashion Week Asia 2017 has made it look like Malaysians seem to have lost it when it comes to hosting major events and hospitality.

Here's why.

Royal protocol ignored

1. The Sultanah of Terengganu Sultanah Nur Zahirah was invited to grace the event.
    a. There was no holding room for the Sultanah and VIPs accompanying her.
    b. The Sultanah was invited on stage without anyone accompanying her there (a big NO NO if anyone knows protocol involving royalty).
    c. The event dragged on till 11.30pm, way past the cut off point of the very many events I've attended with members of the royal family present.
   d. The Sultanah was forced to walk all t…

Klang run 'illegal', says Sports Commissioner

UPDATE (Dec 11; 11.58am): Sporting events approved by Sports Commissioner's Office will be posted on the Youth and Sports Ministry's website starting Dec 14, as revealed by the Sports Commissioner in her statement today. I'm glad the last point of my observation (as per posting right below) has been addressed.

---

UPDATE (10.57pm): A Twitter user had sent me a link by the organiser of the Klang Heritage Marathon 2017. It states that the marathon has been "postponed to Oct 14, 2018" and that they have been victims of fake news and will lodge reports with the authorities against materials with elements of defamation or fake news. Read the full statement, posted on Dec 2, here.

---
ORIGINAL POST

A Klang City International Marathon 2017 pacer suffered serious injuries after she and two others were hit by a car

Turns out that the organiser of this morning's event, Earth Runners International Group Sdn Bhd, DID NOT submit any application to the Sports Commissioner&#…