Elyas Omar blasts BAM

KUALA LUMPUR: The so-called "Gentleman's Agreement" to decide who is going to be the next president of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) today came under heavy fire from former BAM president Tan Sri Elyas Omar, who described the move as "gutless and undemocratic".

He said since both contenders for the post at the BAM annual general meeting on April 29, Tan Sri Mohamed Al-Amin Abdul Majid and Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria had clearly said they wanted to take over from outgoing president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff, no one including the BAM Council had any right to stand in their way.

"I am appalled at reading media reports about this Gentleman's Agreement or move by Council members for a no-contest compromise between the two contenders so that one of them can take over. This just shows they have no guts or sense about the running of a sports body where democracy should be freely practised," he told Bernama.

"And since both Mohamed Al-Amin and Mohamad Norza are very passionate about wanting to be the next BAM president, let them fight it out and let the Council members decide their preference," said Elyas.

Tengku Mahaleel, who is stepping down for health reasons, has publicly declared that there was a "Gentleman's Agreement" between him and Mohamd Norza for the latter, the BAM deputy president, to succeed him.

But this naming of a successor was disputed by Mohamed Al-Amin, the BAM acting president, who said he was not a party to it and he wants the natural process to take its course at the sport 's governing body annual general meeting (AGM).

Elyas said having such an agreement or working out a compromise to prevent a contest was akin to putting pressure on either contender to withdraw against their will when the best avenue would be to allow a contest at the AGM.

The former Kuala Lumpur Mayor also said he was "most disappointed" with BAM Council members for failing to show a sense of responsibility or leadership over the issue.

"The Council members are supposed to be the BAM's grassroot leaders and if they go along with the Gentleman's Agreement and not wanting to see a contest, then what are they sitting on the Council for?

"To me, they should all resign because how do we expect them to develop badminton especially at the grassroots level? No wonder we have not been able to develop grassroots talents in badminton," he said, referring to the dearth of potential champions of the pedigree of Malaysia's world No. 1 player, Datuk Lee Chong Wei.

Elyas was BAM president for eight years from 1985 and under his leadership in 1992, Malaysia won the Thomas Cup, the last time the country became champions of the cup, a symbol of the world's team badminton supremacy.

He contested the BAM presidency twice and won both times against his predecessor, Tan Sri Khir Johari. who held the post from 1961 to 1985. The BAM past presidents included Datuk Seri Dr Abdullah Fadzil Che Wan and Tan Sri Dr Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh.

The BAM, the governing body of badminton in Malaysia, was founded in 1964. However, the history of Malaysian badminton started much earlier. On Nov 11, 1934, an association, the Badminton Association of Malaya was officially formed with J. L. Woods of Perak as the first President of the association. — Bernama