AUGUST 20 ― Last month, Ignatius Leong was unable to retain the presidency of the Singapore Chess Federation (SCF) at its annual general meeting and his vision for Singapore chess ― right or wrong ― will be missed.
Of course, a few were extraordinarily happy with the outcome. The World Chess Federation (FIDE) President Kirsan Ilyumzihinov actually wrote (and published) a letter of congratulations to the new SCF president.
More surprising was the reaction of the new SCF Vice President John Wong Fan Kong who was also asked by the SCF Council to act as its Honorary Secretary until a suitable candidate could be identified.
Wong, in a post on his public blog which is usually devoted to chess training, offered both an analysis and a direction for SCF, but also attacked Leong who remains a council member.
The Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) will also soon have to hold its long-delayed annual general meeting and election and for a long time it was a question of whether a suitable candidate could be found to challenge incumbent Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib.
His predecessor Datuk Tan Chin Nam, still a patron of the game despite retiring, now in his late 80s and not in the best of health, has even offered himself!
Malaysian politics is not Singapore politics, however, and there have been a number of developments of late: Datuk Tan’s nephew Daniel Yong Chen-I being elected president of the Chess Association of Selangor perhaps being the most significant.
I am not sure what Yong’s interest in chess is but he is a member of the family that controls IGB Corporation and serves as the executive director of Mid Valley City.
He is also chairman of the Organising Committee of the Malaysian Chess Festival, the brainchild of Datuk Tan, which is now in its 12th year and so it looks like the festival will carry on for quite a few more years.
So there may be light at the end of the tunnel if what one wants is Tan Sri Ramli leaving MCF after almost 10 years (amazingly he still has not learned how to play the game).
MCF’s appointed Secretary Gregory Lau and appointed Treasurer Haslindah Ruslan both depend on Tan Sri Ramli retaining his presidency in order to keep their posts.
There has been talk however that Lau, ever the survivor, is looking to make (or has even already made) a deal where he is retained in some capacity should there be a change of leadership.
For MCF, while there might be more money given for chess in the short term should it revert back to essentially a family business, which is better than no money, it will still be dependent on an individual’s largesse.
I fear that in this new MCF there will still be no real vision, little improvement in administration and management, just lip service to pillars of a national sports body such as development programs and sporting excellence.
What is the point of a new head when it will be largely the same non-performing and incompetent so-called chess people retained or the return of some others that are no different from them?
The underlying issues that have long plagued both our society and Malaysian chess – entitlement with no accountability which is enforced through bullying ― will be swept under the carpet or even forgiven for the sake of so-called unity.
Yes, unity, but only the protection of the corrupt that have long been representative of the MCF establishment.
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.