A STITCH IN TIME SAVES NINE

The personalities that run sport in Malaysia do not love sports, but they are in love with its perks – the government grants, the publicity, the political clout, the junkets and the kickbacks.

They do not want a serious threat to their positions from the qualified and committed.

Some have been associated with a particular sport for so long and the youngsters can be forgiven if they were to think that these people actually invented that sport. It’s akin to the old adage – “ask not what you can do for Malaysian sport – ask what Malaysian sport can do for you.” And mind you it can do plenty.

Power, pelf, influence, political clout, international exposure – the sportsmen might be denied all these, but officials wallow in them.

There is no denying that most, if not all, politicians use sports as a platform, and if they divert sports funds for party work, none is the wiser because accountability is not their string point.

Perhaps we get the Sports Ministers we deserve. But do they realize, be it the present Minister or those before him and those who will assume office after he completes his tour of duty, that we don’t have a sports culture in Malaysia, and we have to develop it.

But here we are fighting about what attire the contingent uses for the march past ceremony. Let me make a suggestion – if we truly want to preach and practice the 1 Malaysia concept, then allow all the different races in the team to wear attire of their culture – baju melayu, baju kurung, cheongsam, saree, kurta blouse and pants, etc. Only then can we show the world that we may come from diverse cultures, but we march as one country, Malaysia.

The power that goes with the office is used to put “lesser” men in place, and cultivate a culture where Ministers and their aides assume top positions in the sporting hierarchy and expect sportsmen to pay obeisance as a matter of course.

For sportsmen to be effective in Malaysia, two things will have to happen.

The Sports Minister’s position must be delinked from politics and elections; the minister cannot be a politician. As stated by Tun Musa Hitam in an earlier blog posting, the Sports Minister has to be a top professional from the field who is given a Cabinet rank.

Why do we struggle to hold our own in the world sporting stage” Is there something within us, a corollary of Malaysianness perhaps that militates against success at the highest level except in odd individual cases like Nicol David and Lee Chong Wei?

One cannot say we are not excelling in sports, as the 12 gold medals performance at the Commonwealth Games has been one of our better performances.

But how can we expect more when we neglect the grassroots level? There are plenty of talented young people who do not receive encouragement – they need the right facilities, expertise and diet.

Not building a velodrome just because the cyclist comes from the home state of the Minister. In that same breath I ask, why is there no hall named after Lee Chong Wei who has been the top of World Rankings for the past 25 months?