Kok Chi questions need for COO

Dato Sieh Kok Chi is the elder statesman of Malaysian sports.

The 80 year old has gone through the mill with well 50 years of sports administration, more often then not he speaks his mind without fear or favour.

The controversial decision by OCM to appoint a Chief Operating Officer has not gone down well with this former water polo international.

Kok Chi pens his thoughts and questions the rationale of using tax payers money to fund a position that is largely not needed, and he is not wading into the candidate picked but rather the whole argument of hiring anyone to such a position:

“ It is with much reluctance that I am presenting some of my views on the question “Does OCM really needs a COO?”.  

The reason is that I have no idea at all why OCM made such an important decision, especially when it would incur a high financial cost to OCM.

However, due to the many comments and questions I received from both retired and present sports officials of OCM, and my over 26 years as an elected office bearer of OCM, I feel it is my duty to clarify the situation.


OCM was founded in 1953 and received IOC recognition in 1954. As such, OCM has existed for over 66 years.  

It has grown from not having an office in the 50s, to a one room office in Stadium Negara in 1965, till today with a 9-storey building, Wisma OCM, completed in 1991 and an Indoor Sports Complex, completed in 2004.

The fixed assets worth of OCM is around RM60 million and its cash assets is at RM21 million.


From 2016 to early 2018, there were some misunderstandings of the role of the Executive Board members of OCM and between some members of the OCM Executive Board themselves. In addition, the morale of the staff of OCM was low and the management of staff needs improvement.

As a result, a firm of Management Consultant, Zubedy (M) Sdn Bhd was engaged to undertake a detail study on improving the management of OCM, at a total cost of around RM80,000/=. .  


The Study was started in June 2017 and the final report was submitted to OCM in December 2017. The Study Report started off with an introduction, which is very complimentary to OCM. It stated as follows:

When you look at the achievements of OCM over the years, one can be quite proud of the organisation, on the things it has accomplished, how it has grown and where it is today. In any given tear, OCM take hundreds of actions and decisions to enable the organisation to facilitate and to execute, in collaboration with other organisations, multi-sports games inside and outside the country. This report starts by acknowledging the many achievements of this proud organisation”.


Another significant statement is the Report is as follows: “The board members had very different notions of what OCM was doing or should be doing. More than half of the board felt that OCM could be doing more and was not living up to its potential. However, what is the ‘more’ was not defined.”


No-where in the Report was any recommendation for the recruitment of a CEO or a COO. The main recommendation are as follows: the need for team building, establishing a protocol to discipline, resolving misunderstanding between members of the board, separation between board and office management, developing a common direction and ambition, utilise indicators to manage work.


Unfortunately, although the Study Report was submitted to the OCM Executive Board in December 2917, no action was taken to discuss or implement the recommendations. Without any in-depth discussion at the OCM Council level on the salary scale and the duties of the CEO, the OCM Executive Board decided to engage a CEO, later down-graded to COO.


In my almost 23 years (November 1992 to August 2015) as the elected Honorary Secretary of OCM and around 30 months (August 2015 to May 2018) as the Assistant Secretary General of OCM, I have never felt the need for a highly paid CEO or COO.

Even in the earlier days, when the late Encik Thong Poh Nyen was the Honorary Secretary and the late Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah was the President, OCM was very modest and thrifty with its staff requirements.

Being a sports organisation, there was very good team-work between the elected Office Bearers and the small number of staff.  Ever since OCM was established, everyone worked very hard to build up OCM and made appropriate sacrifices for OCM to be what it is today, a multi-million Ringgit National Olympic Committee, amongst one of the best in the world.


There is not much difference between the work say 30 or 40 years ago compared to the work today. OCM is responsible for the selection, preparation and sending Malaysian contingents to participate in the multi-sports Games, such as Olympic Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and SEA Games.

What OCM is essentially doing is what it has been doing for the last 65 years, when OCM first participated in the 1954 Asian Games in Manila.

Today, with internet and social media, work has in fact become much simpler and easier.

 Unless and until evidence are presented that the work-load of OCM has increased 10 times, there is no justification for the appointment of a COO.

The money saved could be used for more beneficial programmes for sports development.