May 4, 2018
By Haresh Deol
I WAS recently asked: “So who do you think will win the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) elections?”
I could only offer a smile.
Looking at the list of candidates, I could not help but ask myself if these personalities are truly passionate about sports. Or do they even know about the Olympic charter, fair-play and sportsmanship?
It remains uncertain who Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria, who won the president’s post uncontested, will be working with in the new term.
Officials from the national sports associations will tomorrow (May 5) vote to elect office bearers who can hopefully uphold transparency and accountability in making decisions.
Before the national contingent left for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, I had asked if OCM will make public the list of those who were given accreditation cards and the roles required of them there. The article ‘Gold Coast 2018: Business or pleasure?’ was published on Foul! (www.hareshdeol.blogspot.my) on April 4. The list remains a secret.
On April 25, I asked on the same platform what being an OCM official is all about.
I wrote: “Take a good look at the faces of the candidates. Ask yourself:
- How have their sports (and not personal status at their respective organisations or positions they may hold in international organisations) prospered under their leadership?
- How many of those eyeing key positions have clocked in the years or showcased their true capabilities as sports administrators? (It must be recorded that age or years of experience does not automatically translate into being a good administrator).
- How many of them are former athletes? (One must also take into account that an athlete may not necessarily be a good coach or administrator).
A sports official recently said: “The OCM should not be anyone’s playground.”
With Norza winning uncontested, all eyes are now on the fight for the deputy president’s post between Datuk Megat Zulkarnain Omardin and Datuk Seri Abdul Azim Zabidi.
Megat Zulkarnain, son of prominent silat practitioner Tan Sri Omardin Mauju, is also contesting for the Barsian Nasional in the Gombak Setia state seat in the 14th general elections on May 9.
He has always been heavily involved in politics and makes no secret about it.
In 2015, I had in my column in the Malay Mail ‘Fix Pesaka’s identity crisis’ highlighted that Megat Zulkarnain, the National Silat Federation (Pesaka) secretary-general, was at the forefront of Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu – initially seen as a racially-charged gathering on Sept 16, 2015. Previously dubbed Himpunan Maruah Melayu, the gathering was in retaliation to the Bersih 4.0 rally held weeks earlier.
Azim, meanwhile, was almost unheard of in the sporting fraternity before his appointment as National Sports Institute (NSI) chairman by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin last year.
Azim, the former Umno Bukit Bintang division chief and seven other division leaders, were stripped of their posts by the party’s disciplinary board in 2001 for various offences related to money politics.
The former Umno treasurer is a familiar face in the finance industry and once served as Bank Simpanan Nasional chairman. Together with Khairy, Azim and several others were part of the ‘Fourth Floor Boys’ in Perdana Putra during Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s tenure as prime minister.
These men – referred by critics as the gatekeepers of Pak Lah – were “very young, coming from prestigious British and American universities and left financially rewarding jobs to join his office” – a description by former newsman Datuk Wong Puan Wah @ Wong Sulong in the book ‘Being Abdullah Ahmad Badawi: The Authorised Biography’.
Those contesting to be OCM’s vice-presidents are Professor Datuk Dr. Zakaria Ahmad, Datuk Paduka Mumtaz Jaafar, Datuk Ong Poh Eng, Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad, Mahindra Vallipuram, Tan Sri Mohamad Noor Abdul Rahim, Professor Datuk Dr. S. Shamala, Datuk Mohamad Taufik Omar and Nik Razeen Ahmad Daud.
Another highlight will be the contest between Datuk Low Beng Choo and Datuk Mohd. Nazifuddin Mohd. Najib for the secretary-general’s post.
In typical election fashion, a poison pen letter made its rounds on Labour Day.
Hilariously, the letter was attacking OCM assistant secretary-general Datuk Sieh Kok Chi – who is not even contesting! Sieh, a former national water polo player who has served OCM for decades, was unperturbed by the contents of the poorly written letter, even sharing it with his acquaintances.
Drama aside, it is important to see how OCM moves forward after May 5.
Perhaps the new office bearers can share the list of those given accreditation cards for the Gold Coast and the roles they played there.
Also, OCM should wrap up its probe on allegations that a national ice skater had received a SEA Games gold medal last year despite not being selected after flopping the selection process.
I look forward to the outcome of these findings. Till then, may the best man or woman win!
Haresh Deol is a multi-award winning journalist who has spent close to 20 years in the newsroom. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter (@HareshDeol).