A look at the upcoming Malaysian Chess Federation elections

OCT 1 — The Malaysian Chess Festival has ended and the Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) Annual General Meeting and elections is confirmed for October 10.

It seems there will also be a Perak Open added to the Penang and Johor Opens to be held in December.

It is clear from the flurry of activity at the Malaysian Chess Festival and the two FIDE Trainer Seminars, organised by the Malaysian Chess Federation before and during, that the fight to replace Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib as MCF president is in full swing.

The candidate to challenge him is going to be Daniel Yong Chen-I, for several years now the chairman of the Malaysian Open Organising Committee and recently elected president of the Selangor Chess Association.

Yong, the nephew of long-time Malaysian chess patron Datuk Tan Chin Nam, is a successful corporate figure who besides holding several positions in the family business and public controlled entities, is the executive director of Mid Valley City.

There is a growing belief that the challengers have the votes to win. To support this view, there have been several acts of desperation by the incumbents including informing the Kuala Lumpur Chess Association (KLCA) that they will not be allowed to vote due to non-payment of membership fees.

This is absurd given that there is documented proof of MCF's refusal to invoice and accept payment. Meanwhile, MCF continues to provide KLCA with services such as registering the KL Open with the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

Ramli himself has been said to have made his usual offer to step down after three months should he not be challenged, a promise he has made many times before and not honoured with three previous deputy presidents; all who gave a lot to chess and have now left the game for good as a result.

While the majority of the elected council remain silent and contribute nothing other than take whatever benefits derived from holding official positions -- appointments to lead a national team, free dinner at a function, etc. -- it is the few unelected but appointed to key positions that run MCF.

However, both sides in the election seem to be filling up their teams with too many of the incumbents and some whose track record is hardly any better.

I have long said that all should step aside and make way for another generation with fresh ideas and energy to contribute. They are the future and deserve the chance to shape the game they love in their own country but as many have told me, how? 

On top of those old enough to say they suffered rubbish when they were players, we are now seeing the rubbish merging this time around!

Datuk Tan should have a better legacy and grow his 30+ years in Malaysian chess into a real lasting achievement and this only has a chance with Ramli going.

It appears Yong can ensure this but already there are many questions as to who will advise (and well?), who will help develop the plans, and who are going to be able to work with his corporate team to execute.

With few exceptions, those offering themselves in the coming elections have little real achievements even in chess. However, this time around money is being splashed and many see opportunity, not just to change the current MCF leadership and break free of the restrictions placed, but also to personally benefit.

Sadly for Datuk Tan, many of those he has been generously supporting for years and is still helping big time are also working with the other side.

As always, that's Malaysian chess politics for you.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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