I have had the pleasure of working, and knowing, most if not all the MCF Secretaries. One of them is Victor Vijayarungam albeit when I know him, he is already out of chess. I was told that his work as secretary was exemplary as he was a teacher/principal ergo, his documentation was flawless! FYI, Victor was also the person who designed our MCF logo. My first encounter with Victor was back in 1989 when Laurence How was the MCF Secretary - the next one. For the past one year, Victor has been my "office mate" at DATCC as he would hang around to help me keep the place occupied.
During the mid 80's until early 90's, the MCF Secretary was Laurence How, a Financial Controller and an avid footballer. Laurence was really good in managing big events and being a person with good connections (he is also the person who started the Malaysian chapter of the Manchester United Fan Club and set up the clubhouse in Taman Megah - near his house), he was also able to convince big sponsors to finance events. What more, with Dato Sabaruddin (now Tan Sri) at the helm of MCF, and Dato Tan as the tycoon who loves chess, they made quite a team. And I was part of the team that enjoyed the golden years of chess, running from one international event to the other almost on a regular basis.
When I left KL, Laurence was still the Secretary (I think) and the position was later taken over by Hamid, and then Latiff and then back to Hamid. I did not have any experience working with Latiff as the MCF Secretary but, I did work with him when he was the PCMM Secretary and caretaker/manager to Chess Palace.
When I came back to KL into chess in 2003, I rekindled my friendship with Hamid and he started giving me some events to handle i.e. Chief Arbiter for the National Closed 2004, NAG 2004 (I think), and Bulletin editor for Malaysian Chess Festival. Of course, I continued helping Hamid with the Festival for a few more years (missing only the one in 2006) even after he left the secretary's post. And although Hamid would like to give me more events to handle, I had to decline some like the 2006 Zonal chess as I was not able to get any leave for that long period.
Hamid did ask me if I wanted to be MCF Secretary or Assistant Secretary (sometime in 2005 or 2006 - I think) and I said "No" because, I was busy with work managing Operations for an MNC company. It would be difficult to handle 2 jobs at one time and further, chess does not pay much! I did tell him that I don't mind helping once a while but I am not able to do it on a full time basis. My full time job was high paying and I do not want to risk it for chess because I know I would have to run to see sponsors, meetings, write letters and all that (sometimes at a moments notice), and since its a National Federation, the responsibility would have been too much to bear - alone! And I am also sure, the same offer would have gone to other chess people at that time and I felt that they would have been a better choice. My work was much too important for me and again, for a simple reason that chess does not pay :)
In 2008, when Greg became the Secretary, my relationship with the MCF Secretary continues and after all, I am no stranger to the Federation. So, where is the surprise? Further, I love the game and I can spend the time to help and contribute more because as of 2008, I became a freelance consultant and therefore, I have more time to spare. On top of that, Greg also asked me to help especially in managing and running events, and preparing proposals - he was also a new kid on the block and since I have the experience of running events and writing proposals and budgets, it was a good combination as we compliment one another. Other than Hamid, Latiff and Tse Pin (who are all International Arbiters), I was the only other non-IA arbiter that have a lot of experience running and managing events so, I helped. FM Peter Long was another experienced FA (FIDE Arbiter) but he was also busy managing his Academy and he was more focused towards training programs.
Proposals after proposals went in but nothing bites, and at the same time, since I had the time, I continued helping Hamid with DATCC and run the Malaysian Festival as and when it happened. Mind you, in 2010 when I was at DATCC, I was never employed at DATCC - I was a mere chess lover who goes there to play chess and meet friends. But I was there almost 5 days a week.
When Dato Tan offered me to run DATCC for a year, I agreed and when MCF does not a place to do events, I offered - as was the case with the 2011 National Championship. There was no sponsor so I proposed to do it at DATCC with minimal cost - to pay for rental, arbiter's fee and manage some running expenses i.e. printing, stationary, etc. We targeted a number of players to attend and achieved our objectives. I took what was needed to pay off the things that I need to pay, and the balance went to MCF. Seeing that there is a surplus, MCF decided to return it back as prize money.
So, when ever Greg wants to make a proposal (or when I have a proposal about an event), we will discuss what needs to be done and in most cases, both of us will see Tan Sri Ramli to get his views and ideas - with the Melaka Festival as a good example. I remembered being called to Tan Sri's house at night because Greg and I need to catch Dato Seri Mohd Ali Mohd Rustam the very next day in Putrajaya - during an open house, on second Raya or 3rd Raya (not sure, but it was during Raya). So, the entire day next day, both me and Greg were on alert - trying to catch Dato Seri at the opportune moment. Finally at 6:00pm, we were told to go to Tun Abdullah's open house because he will be there at that time. So, both of us crashed into Pak Lah's house and hijacked Dato Seri at his table, the moment we see him alone enjoying his meal and talked to him about the event. And moments later, Tan Sri Ramli arrived (from Perak) because his Raya event at his hometown (where the PM was the guest of honor) ended earlier than expected. And that was how it started....
On a side note, the REAL HERO for the Melaka event should be Khairi Jansar, the person who literally pounced his way into Dato Seri house and office to make sure that the event will go on. I really salute him for that!!! And for me and Greg, whilst we did prepare the working paper, and gate crash an open house to meet up Dato Seri and persuade him to host the event in Melaka, it would not have happened without Khairi. We talked about the idea and Khairi made sure that it happens - and that he did!!!
So, back to my story.... and referring to my previous article....
So, there your are - how I became involved in MCF and how I develop and maintain my working relationship with each of its Secretary. So, why the fuss and the hint that something was not right? The point to my article was that
- There is not much money to be made in organizing chess so stop thinking that it does.
- How I earn money from events (whether or not MCF can or cannot pay), that is something that I will work out. There is actually no confusion (like someone had claimed) but it does need a bit of "tightening". But I do believe, when there is profit, it should be shared by everyone. Sometimes, its not the amount, its the recognition and token of appreciation!
- There is nothing wrong for me to work with Greg and if you think that there is someone who can do better, then go volunteer to Greg. The more the merrier as we can learn from one another
- How Greg gets paid, or whether MCF pays him or not, that is between Greg and MCF. I am sure MCF will give him what is due.... I don't even make much for myself and I am expected to give or share it someone?
- But at the same time, I pity Greg if MCF is not able to pay him - one of the reason why I was reluctant to (and still...) be the Secretary of MCF. People will expect me (in this case, its Greg) to work for free. Being the Secretary is a full time job. If there is profit from some events, the least is pay something back to Greg. For that matter, to all the Committee member who have spent time, effort, blood and sweat to manage chess movement in the country
- Only once - I think its once, (in the mid 80's) that MCF actually had an executive secretary - a full time paid/salaried secretary that manages MCF daily affairs.
- After Laurence How, all the MCF secretaries (Hamid, Latiff and Greg) were/are in chess on a full time basis i.e. Organizer, Coach, Player. Not sure about Latiff but I believe chess is part of his business - maybe not on a full time basis
- How MCF can make money (whether it was my suggestion back in 2003 or the other person suggestion in some blog site somewhere) is a different issue altogether. I have said my peace 9 years ago. If someone else is not peaceful with it, not my problem! But I believe my suggestion is still valid - if not all, some of it.
- The accounts for the Melaka event is not managed by me nor Greg. The account is set by the Melaka Government and that was what we had proposed and what they wanted as well. So all payments/budgets shall be received, managed and scrutinized by the Foundation