Is the patronage system killing our sports?

By G Vinod
| July 23, 2013

PETALING JAYA: Is patronage system in sports associations a reason for the decline in our sports industry?

This is a question that needs to be pondered on as many of our sports organisations are helmed by political leaders or business magnates.

For example, the National Karate Federation president is Ali Rustam, who is also the former Malacca chief minister.

Apart from the karate association, Ali also helms the Malaysian National Silat Federation and the Petanque Federation of Malaysia.

Another political bigwig helming several sports associations is the de facto law minister Shahidan Kassim.

Apart from helming the Malaysia Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU), the former Perlis menteri besar is also the chief for the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia and surprisingly, the Kabadi Association of Malaysia.

Former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar Isa Samad helms the Malaysia Amateur Boxing Association while former Human Resources Minister Fong Chan Onn helms the Malaysian Body Building Federation.

Some of the sports associations with politicians and businessmen as patrons are:

National Karate Federation (former Malacca chief minister Ali Rustam);

Malaysian National Silat Federation (Ali);

Petanque Federation of Malaysia (Ali);

Malaysia Amateur Athletics Union (Law Minister Shahidan Kassim);

Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Shahidan);

Kabadi Association of Malaysia (Shahidan);

Malaysia Amateur Boxing Association (Former Negri Sembilan mentri besar Isa Samad);

Malaysian Body-Building Federation (former Human Resources Minister Fong Chan Onn);

Badminton Association of Malaysia (Mohd Nadzmi Mohamad Salleh – businessman);

Malaysia Basketball Association (Tiong King Sing – Bintulu MP);

Malaysia Volleyball Association (Ta Kin Yan – businessman);

Equesterian Association of Malaysia (Jamaluddin Jarjis – former Science, Technology and Innovation Minister);

Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (Zakaria Ahmad – businessman);

Malaysian Lawn Bowls Federation (Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid – former Chief Secretary to the Government); and

Sepak Takraw Association of Malaysia (Ahmad Ismail – Umno leader from Penang).

There is much soul-searching to do to improve the running of sports associations to bring out the best in our athletes.

Sports patronage – ‘It’s more than prestige, image’

By Alyaa Azhar | July 25, 2013

PETALING JAYA: The patronage system in sports depends on the patron and the sports association’s objectives for being a patron and for wanting a patron, said Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) secretary-general Sieh Kok Chi.

Sieh said this when asked on the relevance of the patronage system in sports associations.

According to Sieh, most sports organisers look for a patron because of prestige and image, which hopefully will impress their members and sponsors.

“On the other hand, today, the public and most people are no longer impressed, because they realise that the patrons are there only in name, and are not that interested or aware of what is going on,” Sieh told FMT.

The same question could be asked of the patrons, he said.

“What are their (patrons’) objectives? In some organisations, sports associations get their patrons actively involved in their activities, such as organising an annual event named after the patron,” he said.

Former Asian Football Confederation secretary-general Peter Velappan on Wednesday said that sports associations must be helmed by professionals, not politicians or businessmen.

Velappan said the patronage system kills the sports body as the leaders will naturally bring in those aligned to them and are not necessarily professionals themselves.

However, former Football Association of Malaysia vice-president Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Omar said it all depends on the individual; as politicians or businessmen could help in bringing funds and expertise into the arena.

Sieh concluded that it depends on the situation.

“If both the association and patron have real interests, involvements and common objectives, then the patronage would be successful,” he said.

“Frankly, it would be better for a patron to leave once the interests or the needs are no longer there,” he said.

Many of the country’s sports organisations are helmed by political leaders or business magnates.

For example, former Malacca chief minister Ali Rustam helms the National Karate Federation, the Malaysian National Silat Federation and the Petanque Federation of Malaysia.

Velappan: End patronage in sports bodies
G Vinod
| July 24, 2013

PETALING JAYA: It is time to end political patronage in sports organisations, said former Asian Football Confederation secretary-general Peter Velappan.

“The sports associations must be helmed by professionals, not politicians or businessmen,” said Velappan.

Yesterday, FMT published an article showing the many sports bodies helmed by either political or business figures.

Velappan said the patronage system kills sports body as the leaders will naturally bring in those aligned to them and are not necessarily professionals themselves.

“And when retired national sportsmen want to enter the sports body to contribute, they find that the door is closed because the non-professionals have taken over the important posts,” he said.

Velappan added that many of those heading the sports organisations do not understand issues such as training, nutrition, competition and athletes’ psychology.

“The leaders also interfere in the selection process. Although the selection committee will make a stand on whom to pick, these patrons simply overrule the decisions made,” he said.

On concerns that not all former sportsmen could lead a sports body, Velappan concurred with the statement but added that these individuals could be moulded to administer a sports organisation.

“There are plenty of leadership courses around. Many can do it provided they are trained to become leaders,” he said.

Culture at fault

However, former Football Association of Malaysia vice-president Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Omar disagreed with Velappan’s assessment.

“It all depends on the individual. Even a non-politician can play politics in a sports organisation,” said Raja Ahmad.

He also said it is not wrong to have politicians or businessmen leading sports bodies provided they could help bring funds and other expertise into the arena.

“Besides that, the political and business personalities can bring in money and other necessary assistance to help our athletes to perform better,” said Raja Ahmad.

What is important to improve Malaysia’s sports standing, he added, is that our local talents needed more international level exposure.

Raja Azman also said some local talents lack the commitment to take Malaysia to greater heights in sports.

“The problems lies in our culture, too. The Africans work hard to gain prominence in sports to escape poverty.

“But some of our local talents feel contented enjoying their four figure salary,” he said.

Raja Azman added that the Malaysian government must also provide the younger generation with more means to project their talents, starting with more sporting facilities.

“These days, there are some schools that don’t even have fields. Look at the fields set up by our local authorities. It’s just not up to the mark,” he said.

In support of Shahidan

Former Malaysia Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU) official A Vaithilingam echoed Raja Ahmad’s assessment, saying there are political leaders who contributed a lot to the sports industry.

“Even Tunku Abdul Rahman used to be the chairman of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM). We thrived during his time.

“Similarly, former Selangor menteri besar Harun Idris helped raise funds for our football team in the 80s when he was FAM vice-president,” said Vaithilingam.

On de facto law minister Shahidan Kassim helming three sports associations, Vaithilingam said the Cabinet minister has contributed substantially to at least two of the sports organisations.

“Of course, there were problems in the athletics union but Shahidan did a lot for the swimming team. If kabaddi is popular in Malaysia, it is because of the minister,” he said.

Besides helming the Malaysia Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU), Shahidan is also the president for the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia and the Kabaddi Association of Malaysia.

Vaithilingam, however, conceded that some political leaders do not help much while helming a certain sports body but he refused to reveal names.

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