PETALING JAYA: Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has come under fire from a former national player for bringing up the salary of Mokhtar Dahari Academy (AMD) director Lim Teong Kim in criticising his performance.
Matlan Marjan, who famously donned Harimau Malaya’s stripes in the 1990s, said Lim’s salary was his right, adding that the former Bayern Munich youth coach had never forced anyone to pay him RM175,000 a month.
“He is a professional, and the previous administration agreed to that salary,” he told FMT.
“Now if the new administration wants to stop his services, that is their right, but it should be done in a professional manner without revealing his salary.”
Syed Saddiq had said Lim’s salary, which came with a tax exemption, should have been re-evaluated, and Lim held responsible for the failure of the national under-16 squad to advance to the U-17 World Cup in Peru next year.
Lim was head of the U-16 squad and project director of the National Football Development Programme (NFDP). However, his service was terminated by the Football Association of Malaysia following the team’s failure.
Matlan said the focus should have been on the development of the youth squad and not results alone.
“The results we want to see is when they make the senior squads. Now, their development is still ongoing, so their success isn’t determined right now because they have their limitations.”
Veteran football administrator Peter Vellapan meanwhile told FMT that the problem with the sport in Malaysia was its lack of direction and leadership.
“When there are failures, the blame game starts. Now, when we don’t qualify, there’s talk of his salary. It’s not fair,” said Vellapan, who served as AFC secretary-general for nearly three decades.
Vellapan said there was a need to revamp the entire structure of sports in the country, not just football.
He said Malaysia was not producing results or reflecting the multicultural nature of the nation despite being “a goldmine for talent”.
The first step, he said, was to “get politicians out of the picture”.
“They shouldn’t be involved at all. Then we should form a national sports restructuring committee to develop short and long-term development plans.”
He suggested that the committee include top sporting leaders from the country as well as from Germany and Japan which are known for sports management.
He said one of the “hard” questions this committee should look into was why, despite the fact that Malaysians loved sports, representation wasn’t as multiracial as before.
“This isn’t acceptable. In some team sports we see mostly one race; in other sports, it’s another race. We need to find out why this is the case and fix it.”