PETALING JAYA: Water polo legend Sieh Kok Chi has denounced unnamed Malaysian sports administrators as ignorant and apathetic, saying this has been proven in the country’s loss of squash star Ong Beng Hee’s coaching services to Qatar.
Sieh, a former Malaysian Olympic Council secretary, told FMT the decision to spurn Ong’s offer to be the national head coach highlighted “the biggest problem” in Malaysia’s sporting scene.
He alleged that important decisions were being made by “sports leaders without knowledge and experience” and devoid of the passion for sports and compassion for retired national champions.
“They use athletes only to promote themselves,” he said. “Once the athletes retire, they are tossed aside like used tissues.
“Take badminton for example. Our former champions are valued overseas, like in Japan and India. Yet they can’t find decent jobs in Malaysia.”
Sieh was in the water polo team that consistently won silver for Malaysia in the SEAP (Southeast Asia Peninsular Games) of 1965, 1967 and 1969. He was also in the team that competed in the 1970 Asian Games.
He made his condemnation of sports managers when commenting on a recent news report that Ong was thriving as technical director for the Qatar Tennis, Squash and Badminton Federation.
According to a previous report, Ong had accepted the job because he did not get into the elite Podium Programme managed by the National Sports Institute.
Sieh said he was sad that Ong was not wanted at home while some organisations were paying “obscene salaries” to administrators with no track record in developing sports and sporting talent.
He said the nation’s retired champions were “too humble or intimidated” to fight for their rights.
“This situation has lasted too long and Malaysian sports standards have dropped drastically.”
He said he doubted that the situation would change if “non-performing leaders and administrators” were to remain in charge.
Any move for reform, he added, would need external support, such as from the media.
“I thought the Pakatan Harapan government would make serious changes,” he said. “Unfortunately, there have been no changes. So the existing people feel they’re right and are supported.”
He urged the youth and sports minister to “kick out” the non-performing administrators.