Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lessons on rigging the deck

First, read Peter Long's article today.

I can confirm that a part of Peter's accusations at MCF is true.

The MCF President and his men are trying to keep those affiliates who are known to be "unfriendly" away from the coming elections and according to Peter, one of the tactics will be to suspend these affiliates thereby preventing them from voting at the coming AGM.

I know at least one affiliate which is eager to pay up whatever is outstanding. The MCF President and Secretary thwarts this by just refusing to issue any invoice. Attempts to contact them are just ignored.

At the last election in 2013, the President and his entire committee were allowed to vote. This is unprecedented and unheard off. The normal practice is for all MCF council and committee to be discharged from their positions at the start of election process. They thus have no further roles to play in the proceedings unless they are also the official delegate for an affiliate.

The votes from the President's men helped to beat off his challenger at that AGM. The big mistake by the challenger and his supporters were to allow this illegal voting to happen. They should have just walked out even though it meant the incumbent would retain his presidency. That way they could have challenged the election process in court.

It is a fact that the majority of the committee will support the incumbent as they either owe their positions to him or stand to benefit from their positions and wants to continue in office. This explains why the recent appointments and  shuffling in positions. It is merely to beef up their vote bank. If you are appointed to your position by the President it is likely that you will want to see that same President in place for the next two years, so you will vote accordingly.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Saving Malaysian Chess

My favourite TV series is Game of Thrones which is based on the books written by George R. R. Martin. One often repeated saying in the series is “Winter is coming”, a reference to the dark and difficult times that will come after summer ends. In this fantasy world, seasons lasts years not months.

This is Sam, one of the main characters in GOT, I kind of taken a liking to his character, though Mr. Martin keeps killing off characters whom the viewers starts identifying with , with startling regularity. It is quite annoying. Thankfully, Sam has survived till the end of season five.

Anyway, winter may be coming in Season 6 for Game of Thrones but Malaysian chess has already been entrenched in this “winter” for many years.

A few years ago I wrote a piece on the future of Malaysian chess.
That was five years ago. Till today I see nothing has changed, Malaysian chess is still floundering and regressing. In my post above I argued that the Malaysian Chess Federation is to be blamed and its leadership should be held accountable.

What has the current MCF President done to promote the game? The answer is Nothing. So why does one so desperately cling on to this post that does not come with any obvious benefit other than the title of President? He is not a chess lover nor a chess player as far as we know.

What contributions did he make to Malaysian chess since becoming President? The federation’s finances are still in a mess. For a while our players were even taken off the FIDE Elo Rating List due to our federation being in arrears (this has since been rectified). Every two years MCF have to go hat in hand looking for someone to pick up the tab for sending a team to the Chess Olympiads. In 2014 MCF only managed to get enough money to send a men’s team. Our women’s team which had participated in 2010 Khanty-Mansiysk and 2012 Istanbul were left out.

The federation has effectively been running on auto-pilot for many years. Recently I read a interesting piece of news here.

If I remember correctly, only the posts of Treasurer, Secretary and Auditors are appointed positions. The rest are elected during the AGM every two years. Basically the MCF committee has now started electing themselves to different positions without holding any EGM. I am unsure if this is constitutional but this year is an election year so why start shuffling positions when we are just a few months short of an AGM in an election year.

The reason I am writing this post is that I have been informed that Dato’ Tan Chin Nam, who has stayed out of the Malaysian Chess Federation since stepping down in 2005 in favor of the current incumbent, Tan Sri Ramli bin Ngah Talib, has decided to return as MCF President. When I heard this news I did a double-take. I had to check with my source that I had heard him correctly.

My first thoughts. Why is Dato’ Tan making a comeback to the President post? And what will he bring with him to the table?

It cannot be denied that the man has very deep pockets but this is not his most best qualification for the post of President. He has a deep love of the game. It is common for him to play at least one game daily. He makes it a point to be updated on what is going on in the world of chess locally as well as internationally. He is genuinely trying to promote the game not only amongst chessplayers but also others who depends on chess part-time or full-time like arbiters and coaches.

He has good intentions but what else? MCF like any other organization, cannot function as well without funds. Dato’ Tan understands this very well and has promised not only to ensure that MCF have the necessary finances to function and promote the game. The state affiliates will not be left out but they will also benefit. I have the privilege of chatting with him on more than a few ocassions and he has shared some of his plans with me over the past year. 

In the works are plans to hold nation-wide series of Grand Prix style tournaments and possibly IM/GM tournaments. There are plans to set up a chess center in Mid Valley Megamall which will be used for chess training and also act as the Malaysian Chess Federation office. It will also be a place for chess lovers to come together to socialise and play chess.

The question is whether there will be a new invigorated Malaysian Chess Federation after the forthcoming elections. A federation that can put forward looking policies in place and a rejuvenated chess program. Or will we see the same tired faces re-elected and we all continue to wither in this “chess winter”?