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ATHLETICS: New MAU boss blasts losers

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UNPROFESSIONAL: Zainal furious after officials leave AGM

THE newly elected Malaysian Athletic Union (MAU) president yesterday questioned the professionalism of the union's officials.

Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad voiced his displeasure after unseating Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim to be the new MAU president in a seismic shift of power in the governing body's elections in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

A wind of change blew through the corridors of much-maligned MAU as Shahidan's deputy, Karim Ibrahim, the subject of an investigation into two drug-related scandals in the sport, was defeated by Terengganu AAA president Datuk Wan Hisham Wan Salleh.

But Zainal's thunder was stolen from him when a shocked Shahidan, together with representatives from Sarawak, Pahang and Perlis, left the annual general meeting before it was adjourned and without officiating the traditional handing-over of power ceremony.

This clearly irked former vice-president Zainal, who is making a return to MAU after 10 years with a narrow 23-21 win over Shahidan.

The new president, lambasting those who failed to adhere to decorum, said: "I don't think I want to take over just like that. This should be done properly. You should hand over the reins before leaving and this meeting has not even been adjourned yet.

"There is a change in leadership and even in government service there is a proper handing-over ceremony. If there had not been a change, there would not have been a problem."

Shahidan was at that point surrounded by journalists outside the Commonwealth Hall and left without returning to the meeting as Zainal then admonished Perak AAA honorary secretary S. O. Appan for proposing to have the meeting adjourned.

"If as delegates you don't agree with the president, you can leave," said Zainal, who is also the Negri Sembilan AAA president.

Zainal, however, later cooled down and proceeded to read from a prepared statement.

"I now re-open the meeting so we can have a new line-up announced and to do what we can in the next two years. I don't have a magic wand but if we work together and close ranks, we can raise the level of athletics.

"I have to deliver but I cannot bring change just by myself. I will need support from everyone," said Zainal, who named athletes, coaches, school-leavers and infrastructure as four priority areas of the new administration.

Earlier, Malacca AAA honorary secretary P. Rengan sought to have the elections delayed for failure to comply with Article 8.7.1 which states that "nominations must be proposed and seconded with confirmation of acceptance by the candidates."

However, the delegates voted to have the meeting continue after accepting Appan's proposal, on a suggestion by new returning officer Datuk Mahindar Singh, that the nomination forms submitted be accepted as consent from the candidates for this meeting only.

This may open the way for the defeated candidates to challenge the outcome of the elections, which had led to former MAU deputy president Datuk Danyal Balagopal withdrawing from the contest for the president's post.

That, aligned by Selangor AAA honorary secretary K. Yogasveran's decision to pull out of the deputy president's contest to run for one of the four vice-president's post, turned the election's outcome decisively against Shahidan and Karim.

Selangor's change in tack accounted for the swing in the votes from Shahidan to Zainal though Karim's defeat was more comprehensive, polling just 19 votes to Wan Hisham's 25.

Yogasveran secured 32 votes to regain his vice-president's post, from which he resigned last year, along with incumbents Datuk R. Annamalai (25) and Datuk Mumtaz Jaafar (24) and Sabah AAA president Datuk Paiman Abdul Karim (28).

They defeated Terengganu's Rajemah Sheikh Ahmad, Johor's S. Rajasegaram and Kelantan's Mohamed Awang while Kedah's P. Solomon withdrew.

NEW MAU LINE-UP -- President: Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad (NS); Deputy president: Datuk Wan Hisham Wan Salleh (Ter); Vice-presidents: K. Yogasveran (Sel), Datuk Paiman Abdul Karim (Sab), Datuk R. Annamalai (Pah), Datuk Mumtaz Jaafar (NS).

(From left) Datuk Mumtaz Jaafar, Datuk Wan Hisham Wan Salleh, Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad, Datuk R. Annamalai and K. Yogasveran in Bukit Jalil yesterday. Pic by Goh Thean Howe


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