Photo: NSTP/LUQMAN HAKIM ZUBIR
AS the dust settles following the long awaited announcement of the retirement of Badminton icon Lee Chong Wei, it is time to reflect on the events that unfolded yesterday.
First and foremost, let’s get one thing crystal clear – I have deep admiration , respect and hold in high esteem the achievements and contributions of Chong Wei having known him since 2000.
But what I am penning here is for his own good, for the betterment of sports and above all for rules and regulations to prevail instead of short cuts and bestowments.
My questions are rooted deeply to one of concern, for a personality who has served unselfishly towards bringing honour to the nation.
Firstly there was no necessity at all to hold a circus to announce his retirement.
A press conference at the Sports Ministry, flanked by the Minister and his Deputy plus the BA of Malaysia President.
That is not how any sportsman takes a bow, most superstars announce their decision to quit either on social media, through a carefully drafted press release or surrounded by their families.
It’s only in Malaysia that Politicians want their moment in glory every time.
For example, just compare the fanfare yesterday to the announcement on the retirement of Nicol David.
Her’s was a simple announcement, yet effective, no circus or fanfare, no baggage and above all done with dignity and poignant as expected from a world champion.
Chong Wei is too nice of a person to say no to anyone and that has been his problem all his playing career.
Next we move to his health condition,
Time and again in his choked voice, he reiterated the fact that he was hanging up his racquet to focus the n his health, to be with his family.
This is one battle that he wants to and needs to win and the big C is never easy to overcome, and Chong Wei realises that now, hence he ought to be given time and space to fight it.
Hence the decision to appoint him as Chef De Mission of the 2020 Olympics was done irrationally, driven by emotion rather then careful thinking.
Yes, he is fully deserving of all the accolades showered upon him. No one will count that,
But the Minister and President ought to have weighed all options and look at things in the overall perspective before making public the decision by announcing it.
Yes, the words used by Syed Saddiq was proposed, and that it was agreed jointly by the OCM President, but were procedures followed.
It was only months ago that OCM approved and announced the adoption of a Special Panel headed by Tan Sri Dato Dr. Jegsthssan on the selection of Athletes and officials for multi sports events,
And the correct procedure will be to bring up the suggestion and formally endorse it at the OCM Executive Board Meeting followed by the Council.
It must be categorically states here that the Ministry of Youth and Sports can propose but cannot formally appoint any Chef De Mission or Deputies for Multi Sports.
So hopefully this proposal will now be tabled at the OCM Council Meeting on Saturday for formal approval.
However before they do that, has anyone actually briefed Chong Wei on the duties and responsibilities of the CDM?
And in the process had a heart to heart talk to him if he is really up to it to carry such a burden of delivering the first Olympic gold medal for the country,
The other option could be appointing Nicol David who was world champion for 8 years and created numerous other records and won 5 Asian Games gold medals.
She was unlucky that Squash never made it to the Olympics as our gold medal drought would have surely ended earlier,
Let Chong Wei get His well deserved rest, keep him for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
By that time he could well develop another player in his mound to take on the best in the badminton world.
Remember Chong Wei had stated that he wanted to focus on his Academy, so really KBS should have right away abounded a start up and annual grant to help an icon develop our future.
That would have been a more meaningful reward and at the same time name the National Badminton Academy after Chong Wei,
Anyway funding development programs directly is not new to KBS and NSC as they have funded Nusa Mahsuri for years.
So what’s another couple of million a year to let Chong Wei use his scientist to produce his replacement,
After all the failed programs over the past 19 years.surely we ought to try a different approach,
And presto, another high profile press conference to announce that perhaps?