Tuesday, May 30, 2006

BLUE SKIES FOR AIROD, TOO?

Blue skies, indeed. Like most Malaysians, I hope the RM7m profit posted by Malaysia Airlines is a sign of better times in store not just for the carrier but also for the economy in general.

I was a late flyer but my first was with the national carrier, in 1986, and in the two decades as a frequent flyer very few airlines have come close to Malaysia Airlines in terms of service. And then came the hard times. I was there at the Business Times frontlines when the airline, then under Tan Sri Aziz Abdul Rahman, faced its first crisis after the union strike of the 70s. Since then it never did get out of its "Bay of Bengal". Looking back, you cannot help but admit that the carrier had done better under the bereaucrats than it has since the so-called entrepreneurs and corporate whizz-kids took over.

I hear that Airod, the country's premier aircraft MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) company, is also flying into another patch. Sources said Airod has been "Sold" to a company linked to a emerging transport monster.

This giant company has already a powerful grip on major road and rail projects in the country.

Monday, May 29, 2006

TAHNIAH, METRO!

Did anyone read Harian Metro's backpage lead? In red and in bold, it says: "TAHNIAH MYTEAM".

Someone in there is trying extra hard to play ball and stay on the right side.

I mean, MyTeam lost. Despite the millions invested in the MyTeam project, the shameless hype and unprecedented publicity, and the presence of the PM to give his support and blessings, and the opponents playing with 9 men towards the end, they lost. And it's OK to lose. Really. I put my money on them and I lost too, and it's OK.

But what's NOT that OK is how the match has been editorialised, how bitter the newspaper sounded over MyTeam's defeat.

The reporter wrote (he did not quote anyone so it must be his own assessment of the match):

"Berdasarkan aksi 90 minit, jelas memperlihatkan rendahnya mutu pemain skuad negara. Terlalu memalukan. Aspek teknikal mengecewakan dan daya berfikir tumpul. Jutaan RM yang dibelanjakan tidak berbaloi dengan apa yang dihidangkan di atas padang. Itupun pegawai kanan FAM baru-baru ini mempertikaikan geran Majlis Sukan Negara bernilai RM3.5 juta terlalu sedikit .."

Either way, you lose FAM. And if those under-20 national players were "paying for the sins of their predecessors" (read Vijesh Rai's commentary "MyTeam not so shabby" in NST today), they are not forgiven for winning last night's game.

So who do I say TAHNIAH to for today's backpage play-up, Datuk Manja or Datuk Hisham?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

MYteam 3 MALAYSIA 0

Yes, my prediction. THREE-NIL, in favour of MYteam.

There are two things I am very sure of re tomorrow night's game between KJ-Jlo's side and Under-20 Malaysian side.

One, I won't be there to watch it; and

Two, MYteam will not be beaten.

They can't lose. All the hype, the shamelessly generous publicity given by the media, the millions pumped in by TM, and the resources and influence of the people driving the MYteam project.

The MYteam will not lose. It's not logical for it to lose. And it won't be politically polite, either.

These factors considered, I'd put my money on MYteam trouncing the Malaysian Selection tomorrow night.

Lazarus Rokk, easily the most prolific Malaysian sports writer since Fauzi Omar, disagrees with me. He said it will be 4-0, in favour of the National Under-20.

What will your score be, brus? Send them to me as you drop your comments.

p.s. Rokk sent me his personal preview of tomorrow's match, for your reading pleasure. For those who have missed his writings in the NST, here's a little taste of what could come your way, by way of his new column, in The STAR.
This one UnCut, of course. I say he still on the bald ...
(Disclaimer: ROCKY'S BRU does not always share the views of the writer)

THE ROKK TALKS with Lazarus Rokk

CONCEPTUALISING -- when foresight and hindsight lie in easy abandonment -- can spare us the awkwardness and discomfiture of continued failure, the tedium of having to rectify mistakes we haven’t learnt from, and the frivolity of having to invest huge premiums on artificial solutions.
History and statistics would furnish the discerning Malaysian with enough evidence that we Malaysians have barely learnt from our past mistakes, and that we have persisted with spending huge amounts of taxpayers’ money on fashioning solutions on measures that have constantly and consistently failed to provide the desired results.
In fact we do not need to trek through the dusty and musky corridors of Malaysian sports history to look for our weaknesses. It’s all there staring us in our red faces, everything so unmistakably epitomised by the character and the calibre of our athletes and officials, most of whom have become living monuments of our disinclination to strive for meritocracy and excellence.
I thought this would be a good time to talk about getting our concepts clear as we will be faced with the most talked-about and discussed Malaysian sports event – that football match between the Malaysian selection and MYteam at the Bukit Jalil Stadium tomorrow night (May 28).
The general consensus – gently coaxed no doubt by the protagonists of MYteam -- is that while the national team needs to win at all cost, the virtual reality team that cost quite a lot to put together, has got nothing to lose.
If everyone indeed believes that, then why was there a necessity to waste everyone’s time, effort, and Telekom Malaysia’s RM 4million to put on this hyped-up match? Are we to therefore assume that this is another business enterprise trying to pass of as a sports solution?
However, I do not believe that was the game plan when the CEO of MYteam, Khairy Jamaluddin and his best mate Jason Lo first conceived this not-entirely new idea. I am quite certain like the ordinary folk before them who could not secure sponsorships, Khairy and Co too must have believed that surely the current national team can’t be the best we’ve got.
They too must have strongly felt that surely out there, there must be a lot more better players whom the FA of Malaysia had missed and that MYteam were going to find them. That, I am told by FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, was the only reason why he agreed to the match.
Besides rationale would dictate that the challengers, in this case MYteam, would have a lot more to lose by being outplayed and outwitted, because they couldn’t put their money where their mouths were. You just cannot initiate an open challenge and then tell everyone that the onus is on your opponent to win.
When you issue a challenge, you would be expected to have the scrotal gumption to not only stand by your convictions but also do whatever you can to win the duel, and not prevaricate the spirit of a challenge with disclaimers.
However, having explained the true spirit of a conventional duel, I am disinclined to believe that this match should be about winning or losing. I am more inclined to believe that this should be about displaying the “invisible” talents that have been unwittingly evaded the FAM’s vision.
I believe this exercise in reality – as virtual as it may be in this case – is about providing the national selectors with the kind of gems that Malaysians have not seen after the likes of the late Mokhtar Dahari and R.Arumugam, Datuk Soh Chin Aun, and Santokh Singh had left the pitch in the late eighties.
What came after them -- perhaps with the exception of Zainal Abidin Hassan and Dollah Salleh -- were average or above average players who could secure first team places in a national team that was fast losing its followers, its credibility, and whatever little respect it had in the Fifa world rankings.
For far too long Malaysians have not had new football icons to idolise or worship, and this is what MYteam had promised to do when they set out on their journey to all the main cities and towns of the country scouring for these gems.
For, winning and losing here will mean little or nothing if this is going to be a match between two equally mediocre teams, or one less mediocre than the other. What we would like to see are potential icons in MYteam, gems who will eventually, with some proper coaching, fill the cavernous gaps left behind by the icons of the 80s.
And, this it would seem will be the only index that this project’s key performance will have to be based on. For why else would we want to spend time, money, and effort on a virtual reality team when all it would have achieved at the end of the day would be to enhance bank balances?
Don’t’ get me wrong, I would be the first one to admit that there is nothing sinister or wrong about turning this into a viable commercial product, if it can benefit the sport first. Afterall isn’t that why the project got the nod in the first place?
But I must say, the gimmick-filled marketing and hype of this team and the May 28 match, has been excellent. Why, some of my friends who have not stepped into a stadium for a local match in 10 or 15 years are all excited about watching this one. Not to watch the national team as we know what to expect from them, but rather the unknown quantity -- MYteam .
Head coach Serbegeth Singh, whom I believe was picked more for his popularity as a football pundit rather than for his superior coaching skills that are virtually non-existent, would like to believe that he has found those gems that Malaysian football has been craving for these last 15-20 years.
I am sure we all are hoping he has, for don’t we all know that Malaysian football can sure do with some reassurance that there is indeed a future for it in this lifetime.
But pardon my cynicism here when I draw reference to the mode of selection. I have always been averse to the concept and the very Malaysian practice of selection through trials, and that too in capital cities and major townships. The State FAs have been doing that, FAM has approved of such a mode, and now the MYteam operators have gone the same way.
While I can understand the rationale behind selection by calling for trials, what in the absence of club and district tournaments, still the reason why we are not represented by the best players in the country is mainly because we haven’t gone to all parts of the country to look for the best.
For instance, how can you get the best players from Johor when you have held trials in the city of Johor Baru, and made it virtually inaccessible for talents from remote areas like Segamat, Batu Pahat, Mersing, and Muar, to have a go?
This is why FAM and the State FAs have failed to get the best players, and what I fear most about the MYteam trialists is that, by virtue of having their trials in the same towns and cities as the national body, they could be the rejects of a mode of selection that has continued to provide mediocre players.
I would have felt a lot less apprehensive if the MYteam crew had gone into villages, estates, and even Orang Asli settlements, where they are more likely to discover the raw gems who are untainted by the glare of the city life, and sadly become invisible to the system because they can’t afford to attend trials in the big cities.
I was hoping when news first broke of this virtual reality team that the MYteam crew would act as a talent-scouting outfit, which is visibly absent both in the FAM and in the State FAs. When Sir Alex Ferguson wants new players, he doesn’t call for trials, he sends out his scouts to look for the kind of players he needs.
But here we Malaysians insist on the short-cut methods and yet wonder why we don’t achieve long-term results. At the risk of sounding like an incurable skeptic, I really can’t see how this match is going to change the fortunes of Malaysian football.
The only objective here, if the MYteam outfit has its concepts right, is not about beating the national team. That, as unflattering as it may sound to the Malaysian Tigers, is not what Malaysians want to see.
However, I am hoping that the FAM decides to field K.Rajagopal’s national under-20 side against Shebby’s makeshift national alternative team, as the former, going by their successful Europe tour and their consistency, will be the team to beat and watch.
But like everyone else who has all but given up on Malaysian football, I too would like to be surprised. I hear it’s good for the soul.

ends

Friday, May 26, 2006

S S D D

SSDD. Same Shit, Different Day. I am remembering a phrase from a Stephen King novel. It is so clear that the 12 per cent increase in electricity tariff had nothing to do with SS and DD, or supply and demand. It's all about cash flow, about GLCs' KPI, about blaming the IPP and Dr M, about how things (read: prices) have been looking UP in recent times.

No wonder half the people are pissed and the other half pissed off.

SSDD.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

ROKK-ing GERMANY!

It's damn hard not to envy Lazarus Rokk.

In February, the former sports editor of the New Straits Times and author of the controversial (and now the late) Counterpoint column, took the VSS that he didn't want.

But how things are looking up. At the end of the month, he'll be on his way to Germany, the place every sports journalist wants to be this summer.

Rokk has been handpicked by AFC president Mr Mohamed Hamman to be Fifa's media officer (with special duties) for the World Cup 2006. Fifa have appointed only 53 media officers worldwide, six of them from Asia. Rokk, easily the country's best known sports writer after Fauzi Omar, is the sole Asean rep.

And that's not all. I hear the editors at The Star have convinced Rokk to start writing a column for them soon.

What a coup.

How not to envy this guy.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

TIME FLIES

If I'm counting right, it's been exactly a hundred days since I left The Malay Mail. The "old" Malay Mail. I saw the "new" one a while ago. Someone asked me what I thought about it and I said it's crap. Ah, I'm joking, Yus. Truth be told, the new malay mail (note: all lower case) looks different, feels different, is different.

But then I've just been told that they paid BBDO US$1 million on the revamp. I think the person who reported that to me must have been mistaken. US$1 million is way too much to pay for the weekend mail that I saw. Way, way too much.

If they really did pay that much, then I wasn't joking about the crap bit.

Otherwise, keep the flag flying, dear Bros in there. Keep the faith.

And start those scoops coming.

Altimet-ly, hard work pays off for Hans Isaac the Ampang boy

Hans-ups Altimet by two votes in PKR Ampang re-election - The Vibes The Kita Budak Ampang story (watch the You Tube ) has a happy ending fo...