Longtime readers of The Malay Mail will remember this paper’s special
connection to RTM’s World Cup telecasts. On June 14, 1982, an insurance
agent named PETER TEO phoned Hotline with a suggestion that RTM allow
the public to contribute RM1 each to pay for more ‘live’ World Cup
telecasts. Like millions of other Malaysians, TEO had just watched RTM’s
‘live’ telecast of the World Cup 1982 opening match in the wee hours of
Sunday, June 13, in which defending champion Argentina was upset 0-1 by
RTM began ‘live’ telecasts of the World Cup from
1974, and continued this in 1978 and 1982, but up to that time soccer
fans here could only expect ‘live’ telecasts of the opening match, the
two semi-finals, and the finals, and would have to settle for radio and
TV news announcements of the results of almost all the other matches.
TEO’s inspired suggestion was promptly published in Hotline on June 15
and it triggered a lightning-quick chain of events such that by June 19,
The Malay Mail launched the unique People’s Live Telecast Fund (PLTF),
after RTM had agreed to accept contributions from the rakyat to pay for
more ‘live’ telecasts, on condition that some other organisation
volunteered to handle the fund-raising.
PLTF’s stated aim was
to collect at least RM60,000 for one ‘live’ telecast and this had to be
done quickly before the World Cup 1982 ended.
more ‘live’ World Cup telecasts, and what started as a trickle of
donations (only RM228 was collected on June 19) soon turned into a flood
as thousands of people of all walks of life made a beeline to The Malay
Mail offices (at Balai Berita in Kuala Lumpur at the time), including
children who came with their piggybank savings, students, blue-collar
workers, professionals and pensioners, such that the PLTF trebled to
RM730 on June 20, jumped to RM5,000 on June 21, quadrupled to RM20,000
on June 22, almost doubled to RM40,000 on June 23, and shot past the
initial target, to RM66,116.45 on June 24.
Each day, The Malay
Mail listed the names of all new donors and the amounts they
contributed, and they included our King and the Prime Minister! With
funds for one ‘live’ telecast in hand, The Paper That Cares then threw a
challenge to the rakyat to continue donating so that there could be
two, three or even more ‘live’ telecasts. On June 25 alone, the PLTF
skyrocketed by RM90,000 (thanks largely to RM50,000 from Caltex
Malaysia) to bring the total to a whopping RM156,000.
Eventually, the PLTF reached past RM300,000, enough to pay for four
‘live’ World Cup 1982 telecasts, specifically on June 29 (England vs
Germany, the score was a boring 0-0), July 5 (Soviet Union vs Poland,
another boring 0-0), and two on July 6 (Italy vs Brazil with a thrilling
3-2 score, and England vs Spain with a boring 0-0), and after the World
Cup, a fifth ‘live’ telecast of the FIFA World All-Star charity match
on Aug 7, 1982 in the USA in aid of Unicef. And on those glorious
nights, the pride-inducing phrase “Ditaja oleh Rakyat Malaysia”
(“Sponsored by the people of Malaysia”) was flashed, and verbally
announced, over RTM.
Due to the intense interest shown by
Malaysians for World Cup 1982, the ‘live’ telecasts of the subsequent
World Cups in 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002 were all sponsored by the
corporate sector and Malaysians no longer had to contribute a single
sen. However, from 2006 onwards, Malaysians who wanted to watch all 64
matches had to subscribe to Astro.
And that’s the story of Hotline’s connection to the World Cup, and it all started with a phone call from one of you readers!
*This article appeared in The Malay Mail, June 4, 2010 edition.
If you have a community/consumer related problem call The Malay Mail Hotline at 03-74951000/1001/1002, email firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet @malaymail or leave a message on The Malay Mail's Facebook page.
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