Malaysian Chess Federation at a turning point? Doesn't look like it

JULY 23 ― Hari Raya this year was a rather subdued affair. Perhaps it was because of the many happenings in the country which I am having difficulty recognising these days.

We have already been feeling the financial pinch but when one goes abroad, the contrast is particularly stark due to a direct comparison of prices and the much reduced buying power of the ringgit.

It has not been fun to read about the 1MDB saga in the local press and seeing Malaysia lumped together with countries we used to laugh at.

There is clearly a breakdown in our institutions and this is due ― without mincing words ― to both the failure and lack of moral leadership by all those in positions of authority.

Of course we are seeing more and more of this type of overt racism all over the world today but there was a time I believed that a multi-cultural and multi-racial society could work.

I had decided to completely disengage from any local chess politics so as be able to give all my time and energy to work on (and promote) initiatives which facilitate chess development in the region; as demanded by my role with the Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia-Pacific and my passion for High Performance Excellence.  

However, two major developments in the local chess community in the past two weeks cannot be ignored. You could say they are a mirror of what is going on in Malaysia.

The first involves a Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) in crisis; an election that has been repeatedly postponed has to be held and the accounts conditionally passed at the last Annual General Meeting needs to be accepted.

Under the guise of non-payment of annual membership arrears ― despite there not being any invoicing even when asked ― a MCF council meeting last week apparently suspended several “unfriendly” state affiliates.

Actually this is Stage Two as earlier invoices for the so-called arrears regarding rating fees were sent out and those agreeing to be supportive forgiven. This simply reveals clear conflicts of interest as to a national rating fee collection and who the beneficiaries were.

This, in fact, has also opened up MCF to further questions with regards its accounting.

Many are curious if MCF has any intention of informing members of this so-called suspension over non-payment of membership fees that were not invoiced but it seems the intention was to surprise so as not to allow voting at election time!   

I understand that several new state affiliates have been set up or revived, but looking at the states suspended and those always in opposition or neutral, it seems that without this illegal and unjustifiable attempt to ensure a vote majority, the current count is 10 to 5 against the incumbents (three votes per state affiliate, so 30 votes to 15 votes).

Which explains the flurry of new appointments and reshuffling of the deck at the same MCF council meeting where many vacant positions were suddenly filled in a laughable fashion.

As a result, assuming this is legal outside an EGM, and if indeed those appointed actually have the right to vote (the incumbents certainly think so), with 5 state affiliates suspended, it is 5 states against and 5 states for (a tie with 15 votes each), then it is largely the unelected appointees who will be deciding the election for the incumbent.

I have been informed that Datuk Tan Chin Nam, so long the grand old man of Malaysian chess and not in the best of health, is so disappointed that Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib has decided to continue as MCF president with the likes of his appointed team, that he has announced he will contest!

Datuk Tan has as usual repeated previous promises: continuing the Malaysian Chess Festival in perpetuity, starting a Chess Centre in  MidValley Megamall, having a National Grand Prix, GM and IM tournaments, development money for all state affiliates, etc.

We all know about election promises but for sure one sen more is 100 per cent more than what the current MCF operates on. It not only has no money but survives ― with certain officials even prospering ― via its primitive top down rent seeking model.

Do I or anyone ― except those who have a vested interest in potential money from Datuk Tan ― really care enough about MCF to do something? And will the people involved be so different? With very few exceptions, I don't think so.

What is needed is real change: structural, with all incumbents going and replaced with professional sports management. 

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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