JANUARY 27 — There is a huge sigh of relief now that the president of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) has approved a request by current world No 7 and All-England champion Lee Zii Jia to turn professional.
But what about two-time world junior champion Goh Jin Wei? Both players were banned a week ago.
So why did the BAM president approve Zii Jia’s resignation and not Jin Wei’s? Is it because Zii Jia had submitted an appeal to BAM?
In the first place, why did BAM ban the two?
Because, well, both players had left the national team by resigning from BAM.
BAM nurtured each player from Day 1, provided training, the coaches, defrayed all tournament expenses including overseas trips, and paid a monthly stipend.
Clearly, BAM frowns on what they see as players leaving the national squad prematurely.
Those in favour of the ban say BAM needs to be harsh, to safeguard the sanctity of the institution. You leave, you get banned. They will always quote two previous players who had left and were banned as precedents.
However, they forget to mention other players who had left BAM and were never banned.
Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying, former world No 3 and Rio Olympics mixed doubles silver medallists, resigned from BAM in December 2018 to be independent players. No action was taken against them.
Just two weeks later in January 2019 former world No 1 and also Rio Olympics men’s doubles silver medallists Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong followed suit and also left BAM. They also did not get punished.
There are more.
In the 1980s, the Sidek brothers left BAM and formed Nusa Mahsuri, the first professional badminton club in Malaysia. No action was taken against them.
The point is that banning a player for leaving BAM is not etched in stone. But here’s a twist which BAM doesn’t get: BAM should not hold back their good players.
If they want to leave for another stable, let them leave because if they do well and win medals all over the world, they are winning for Malaysia.
Stepping on the podium, they would still have the Malaysian flag on their shirts, wouldn’t they? If Jin Wei wins a medal at the Commonwealth Games, the Sea Games or any other games anywhere in the world, she wins it bearing the Malaysian emblem on her shirt regardless of which club she is a member of.
It is to BAM’s credit to be seen as being able to produce many good players who continue to win medals for Malaysia after leaving BAM.
The approval of Zii Jia’s application to leave should be contingent on the injustice of the ban and not on his appeal. The approval for Jin Wei should be given without her submitting an appeal.
The ultimate goal after all is to win for Malaysia, not BAM. Of course, we will not forget that BAM is the custodian of Malaysian badminton, but BAM should not say, you stay with us or you don’t play for Malaysia.
Malaysia is bigger than BAM.
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.