KUALA LUMPUR: The new flagbearer of national athletics is Shahidan Kassim who triumphed over S M Muthu to take over as president of the Malaysia Athletics Federation (MAF).
When his win by four votes was announced, Shahidan punched the air with his fist while Muthu looked like he had his balloon burst at a party.
“MAF has gone through difficult times, moments of crisis but those times are over,” Shahidan said after the MAF’s annual general meeting (AGM) today at the Royal Selangor Club here.
When asked if MAF was divided, he said: “We might have disagreements but I don’t agree we are divided. Today was an election, not a war.
“As we enter a new era, we’ll restore the image and culture of MAF and make sure everybody will be happy with what we do,” the federal territories minister added.
On reform, transparency and impartiality, Shahidan, who is also president of Malaysia Swimming, said he will listen to the voices of all stakeholders in an effort to reinstate the credibility of athletics in the country.
His pitch also included a pledge to win the trust of the athletes, public and sponsors, and to initiate far-reaching and progressive schemes such as junior development that involved the right people.
When asked whether he would be hands-on with athletics since he has to run the national swimming body and has ministerial and other political responsibilities as well, he said: “I will be able to handle my new responsibilities.”
Shahidan, who was MAF chief from 2008-2012, acknowledged he faced an uphill task to build a new era to put track and field back on centre stage.
Muthu, who obtained 16 votes to Shahidan’s 20, looked broken as he said he looked forward to working with the new-look MAF “in any capacity”.
The one-term MAF president, whose downfall was increasingly regarded as inevitable following months of turmoil at the governing body, now has no state affiliate to go to.
Last year, he lost the presidency of the Selangor Athletics Association to Nurhayati Karim, a defeat that sparked a crisis and resulted in the state body being de-registered by the Sports Commissioner.
Nurhayati, the daughter of former MAF chief Karim Ibrahim, withdrew her candidacy for the top post today to make it a faceoff between Shahidan and Muthu.
With that, she failed in her bid to become the first woman to contest the top MAF job.
Nurhayati also had her nomination for the post of vice-president rejected on the basis that she was not an office-bearer of the Perak Athletics Association which proposed her candidature.
The fight for deputy president between Fadzil Abu Bakar Wan Hashim (Melaka AA) and V Pulainthiran (Federal Territory Kuala Lumpur AA) was tied at 18-18 votes and the deciding vote by the AGM chairman, Muthu, went to Fadzil.
The new office bearers elected by three delegates each from 12 state affiliates (minus deregistered Selangor and Sabah) for the 2022-24 term are as follows:
President: Shahidan Kassim
Deputy president: Fadzil Abu Bakar Wan Hashim
Vice-presidents: Josephine Kang, Salahuddin Satar, Syamsul Bani Abdullah and Mark William Ling.