Monday, June 17, 2013

The grapevine has it that...

THE truth be told, there aren't many things that can be kept a secret in Malaysian sports. A case in point is last week's reappointment of Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz as the National Sports Institute (NSI) chief executive officer (CEO) and Ahmad Shapawi Ismail's re-designation as the Sports Commissioner.

Although the official statement was only made on Wednesday, the sports grapevine had been abuzz for days before that on the duo's movement.

Up till today, there has been no official reason offered why Dr Ramlan was removed as the CEO in the first place and made former Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek's sports science advisor for the 2016 Olympics.

The sports grapevine however had much to say, but it is not fair to Dr Ramlan and those behind the move to repeat what was said.

Dr Ramlan was, surprisingly, replaced by Ahmad Shapawi as the NSI's chief executive.
Surprising because Ahmad Shapawi is a National Sports Council man and his forte is dealing with associations and athletes.

Both, however, can do the job that they have been entrusted with but it won't be easy.
The NSI is not only about rehabilitating injured athletes and despite the alleged problems certain staff had with Dr Ramlan, he knows his stuff and that should be the only thing that matters as Malaysia prepares for next year's Commonwealth Games and Asian Games and the 2016 Olympics.

For Ahmad Shapawi, becoming the sports commissioner must be a record as he is the first to have held key positions in the NSC and NSI before his current appointment.

To say he has an unenviable job would be stating the obvious for no sports commissioner can claim to have made more friends than enemies at the end of their tenures.

Ahmad Shapawi has a tough job as the Sports Commissioner's Office has become somewhat of a sports complaint bureau since it become a key part of the landscape in 1997.
Ahmad Shapawi, however, has promised to be a friend to all but to ensure his office functions well, there has to be adequate staffing.

A grouse several previous sports commissioners had was there was not much they could do due to staffing problems, with the best almost always 'pinched' by other government departments.
The Sports Development Act (1997) is also to be amended with the various stakeholders already having submitted their recommendations.

Among them is a proposal for the post of Sports Commissioner to be removed from the Act and this will present Ahmad Shapawi with an interesting challenge.

The proposal was among several made by the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), which also has had its fair share of space in the sports grapevine the last few weeks.

Murmurs that next week's elections would be the 'bloodiest' in a long time first surfaced several months ago and there was even talk that president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar would be challenged.
That, however, didn't happen but almost every other post will see challenges and there is genuine danger that the aftermath will leave OCM with deep scars.

Allegations and counter allegations -- against the incumbents, challengers and even government officials -- are being hurled and one can expect the temperature to rise even higher as election day on Saturday approaches.

OCM can't afford this as already, a deep divide is seen in the nominations which are split into two camps and should both camps have an equal share of the pie at the end, the enmity will surely be carried into the coming term.

While the NSC, NSI and Sports Commissioner's Office are all government bodies, OCM is the nation's representative in the sporting world and it would be embarrassing if it is plagued by problems following next week's election.

And knowing Malaysian sports inability to keep secrets, it won't be long before the problems become public knowledge and so, it is important that when the 35 affiliates cast their votes on Saturday, they do so with the future of OCM, and not personal interests, in mind.

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