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Friday, February 10, 2012

Of Reviewing My Status....

It has been more than 2 months that I have started back at work. Whilst I can't say that I am enjoying it, this seems to be the more favorable move forward that I have to be contented with. Further, there are some quarters who are "happy" to see me leave the scene. They put up a smiling face (with a knife tucked behind their back) and tell me "It is good that you are back at work" and "It is for your own good to earn a living!". Either they care too much for my well being or they can now eliminate one "opposition" from their list. I would like to think that it was for the former.

Perhaps these people are envious of what I have done or, they think they can do better by shutting me down. Or they think that I am too influential because I am often seen in blogs, events, Facebook, etc. I think they must have mistaken me for the other Najib - the one whose father is Razak *LOL* Or, maybe they think that I am a bad influence to the sports... Did I sell games? Use bad words? Ban players from entering my event?

Or maybe they think I am making too much money! Ha ha ha... that will be joke of the century! How much money can a man make doing chess?

I was away from chess from 1991 to about 2003 as I was stationed in JB. Chess had to take a back seat (and eventually was left in the trunk of the car) as there were not many events being held in the southern capital. I was also contented with my own little world and own little "amusing adventure" in my hometown. With growing up kids to take care of, a small family business to attend to, surrounded by old friends and close family member, I did not miss chess at all. And it stayed like that for a rather long time.

In fact, when I returned to KL in 2000 to work, I remained away from chess until late 2003 when I decided to make a come back - after making some "spicy" comments about Malaysian chess in the Yahoo group. I think my comments are still there - feel free to read it. I was like the Raymond Siew that we have today with one significant difference - I actually play chess! *smile*

So, am I a bad influence to the chess community? Or, did I siphon a lot of money from chess? Or, do people out there think that I make tonnes of money from chess? Maybe I should start driving a Porsche Cayman and start living in condo penthouse somewhere in the heart of KL from tomorrow onwards!

But seriously, how much money can a man make organizing chess events? Does any of our chess organizers driving Mercedes and BMW? Or Porsche? Or Ferrari maybe? I don't think so.... Maybe its not fair to compare with those high end sports car so lets go down a bit..... Err, any of them driving Nissan Fair Lady? Or Accord? Or Peugeot? Heck.... Most of us are driving good old Protons and Perodua. Some don't even have cars! So what is the big deal if someone - like me, organize events and earn some money once in a while? What is wrong earning money doing things that I like and making a living out of it?

Events are like projects i.e. like national events which comes once in a span of 2 to 3 months. For International events, we did the last FIDE event back in 2007 (or was it 2006?) based on that scale, the span of doing International event is almost 5 years once! So, am I asking "free money" i.e. sitting down doing nothing and let the event runs by itself? Am I stealing money from chess player's pocket? Am I stealing events from other organizers? I had spent money and time preparing numerous working paper but only one or two that actually managed to materialize so, when one does happen, is it wrong for me to make some money (or try to make....) to "cover" some of the losses that I experienced elsewhere?

For 2011, I was on my own and Dato Tan had the generosity to allow me to use DATCC as my base. On top of that, there were 5 contributors who chipped in to help me maintain DATCC and to them, my sincere thanks for all the help that all of you have rendered - no need to mention names as I had promised they would all remain anonymous. After 1 year at DATCC, I thought I could buy the purple Lamborghini that I want, the dream Kawasaki Ninja, a Rolex watch and a Bungalow on top of a hill, but alas, the profit fell short. Given another year at DATCC, I would probably be able to start buying the car sticker for the purple Lamborghini.... But, I managed to be able to pay all the "normal" bills that I have to pay (with the help of my wife) the monthly installment for my old Proton, my phone bills (used mostly to reach out to other chess players and promoting events), still using my 16 year old watch (seriously! I had this watch since 1995) and upkeep the rental to my small house somewhere at the edge of town. But the most important thing was... I was happy! Happy doing what I did - going to work when I want, mostly on weekends, and help to "invigorate" the local chess scene - as one parent put it. On the chess "business" side, some events make money and some events did not - as they say it, you win some and lose some.

My reason for doing the Melaka event was because I was involved in the original proposal. It was only right that I continue with what I had started. I had attended a few meetings in Melaka and after all the "investment spent" to redo the paper, traveling up and down PLUS highway, cracking my head at night to prepare the budget, it was only fair to continue what I had started. The initial idea for Melaka Festival started before the Malaysian Chess Festival in August, so it has been there for a while. When I pointed out to someone that I had spent quite a bit of money traveling to other cities to present budgets and proposals to "convince" sponsors or organizers but it failed, I was asked to consider that as "lost investment". So, now that I am halfway to getting the Melaka event a reality, can I deem it as a "gained investment". And if I do get a profit from it, maybe I can start putting the down payment for bungalow in Hartamas. So, once the Melaka event is over, all of you can come to my open house somewhere in Hartamas Heights... Don't worry - I won't be nasty, I will invite everyone ..... But in all of it all, I am just happy that the event is looking to materialize really soon. The joy is to see something dreamed and for it to become a reality.

Anyway, I am doing all that I am doing now because I LOVE the game. I am passionate about chess and how to help improve the level of the game in the country. If some people think that I am doing it for power, money and control, then they better have their head examined.


  1. I absolutely think that you as the organiser of the Melaka event should make money for all the headaches. I know how much effort the prime mover needs to put in. What has been suggested in my site is that the organiser also factor in an endorcement fee for MCF in their proposal. I have also said that MCF officials cannot benefit from this event as that would be a conflict of interest and could possibly be termed as corruption. MCF officials should be paid from the endorcement fee and other events like NAG or NJ which should be organised by MCF itself and not farmed out. Then we have a proper system with check and balances.

    Try not to distract yourself by the fact that I do not play chess. It is not material to the discussion. It is sufficient that I have coached a strong national junior with my methods.

    As a private organiser, work on your business. Nothing wrong with making profits the correct way. All good business men do that. The best way is giving value by imrpoving your product.

    All my best in your Melaka event.

  2. Do look at this post. I trust things will become clearer.


  3. Hi Najib,
    Problem face by Chess Organizer I guess is much like problem face by Ustaz. Ustaz is expected to give service here and there 24/7 and ofcourse with no mentioning of money, all should be "for God",. Once Ustaz start asking for money on services provided than that Ustaz is considered as 'materialistic' and to love this world more than afterlife world...

    but ofcourse Ustaz needs to pay his bills too...

    Like Chess Organizer,we expect Ustaz to have certain theory and practical knowledge about things he preached. We expect Ustaz to pray 5 times a day etc...Ustaz who never pray should never talk about praying. let alone gave advice on how to pray correctly to his praying listener.

  4. Hi Raymond
    Somehow I am not surprised that you were the first one to comment on my posting. But of course, I would be surprised if you are not.

    In any international proposals that I do, and to a certain extent even when doing proposal for the local ones, I always include a levy to be paid to MCF (which may be the rating fees) because like you, I do agree that the National body should earn "something" from any events that other people do.

    Hi Ilham
    Thanks for that light comments. I can always depend on you to create that "endless grin" on my face. Thank you my friend.

  5. Hi Najib, I think that is a very important point. MCF officials need to be paid by MCF. Otherwise there is too much pressure on the officials to put their hands into other peoples kitty. Still the law is clear. It is still illegal to do so and organisers must not fall into the temptation of making payments to them privately. That would constitute bribery. Then all will be in trouble including the event. I also hope the money goes into MCF account directly and not into private accounts as in past practices.

    Best of luck in your event. All my best.

  6. In organizing events, "professional fees" (or consultation fees) to organize event is never claimed nor itemized. In fact, professional fees has never been a part of any working paper that I did unless the person who is asking for the paper advice me to put it in because "its for you for the work that you have done. After all, we are not spending thousands - just a small token". And most of the time, they entrusted me to be the Arbiter and that is how I make most of my earning from events.

    Only once I did ask (on the side) during my last event but after much discussion, I got much less than what I wanted but I was OK with it. No biggie... I tone down after receiving advice from close friends. After all, there is always a chance to earn somewhere else - not necessary in chess. But still, people think that I am after money... Please la... If I want money, I'll be a contractor and have political alliance with someone... Or better yet, stay in my hometown and manage my small family business.... But, what is the challenge in that?

    And how the MCF people earns from all this is, like I said, in my proposals, I allocate a levy for MCF to get money - allocating payment for rating fees is one way of doing it. Even in small events that I run, I am one of the few who pays the National Rating fees to MCF. On the contrary, there are organizes out there who "proudly boasts" in their websites how much money they make from their event, how many players they get BUT did they pay any fees to MCF at all? Do they even set aside a sum for rating purposes????? I bet you they did not.... And yet, they use the National rating to promote their events, and we applaud them (some of them even applaud themselves - masuk bakul angkut sendiri) for developing chess in the country? Please lah.....

    I make money for my own sake to survive. But, I can help to teach you how to fish but please... the fishes that I caught, are mine to keep - Go get your own! And again, if there are people out there think that I am sharing my fishes, you need to get your brain operated - I can recommend someone if you really need this!

  7. I think there is a lot of confusion over this topic. Private ventures are private ventures. You need to make profits to grow your services, develop your product etc. So you should earn of course and why should you share with others your own effort. That was my beef with you over the Asean training if you recall.

    But I do think that MCF can earn enough if they follow the suggestions I made. But I think you need to be careful when you say MCF people. That is dangerous grounds.

    Maybe for some smaller events they do not have to pay or pay so much. That is between MCF and them. Not everyone can do prestigious International events like you. In those cases I think MCF deserves more than just rating fees.

  8. I like what you wrote - "In those cases, MCF deserves more than just rating fees". FYI Raymond, I believe all entry fees received for International events must go to MCF - directly or indirectly (collected by a 3rd party and channeled back to MCF).

    What else does MCF need or can take from events? You want MCF to charge "professional fees" to sponsors for managing the events? You want Organizers to give MCF 10% for organizing events for them? Please do not get mixed up between "organizers" and "canvassers". Organizers are to organize - that is why it is called organizer *LOL*.

    If there are people out there who think they can get sponsors and earn a cut from that sponsorship, go and talk to MCF about it. I am an organizer not a fund seeker. So do tell me, how does organizers share their "profit" with MCF when, like I said earlier, I don't even charge for "professional fees"?

    Earning money from small events around Malaysia by way of rating fees charges, or other nominal charges that MCF can enforce, can bring in substantial amount of money. I believe we call it "Sikit-sikit lama-lama jadi bukit". So, while thinking big can get you the income, thinking small also helps.

    Sponsors money are used to finance the event and if there are balances, then that - on top of the entry fees collected, will go into MCF accounts and put in as "profit". This I believe is the correct way. I have always put my stand that if there are sponsors for any events that I organize for MCF, please channel the funds to MCF. I don't want any of it. We noted that some sponsors do not care how the money is spend, but some do. So, where the sponsors don't care, then MCF can probably gain.

    In doing the Amateur, whilst most of the entry fees went into a separate account (not MCF), all of it was eventually returned to MCF - minus the running expenses to manage the event. There was no organization fees allocated in the working paper and all the entry fees received, money for the prize money and sponsors money, all went into MCF accounts. For me, it was an MCF event and I was just helping to execute it. I was at the right place at the right time.

    I only charge organizing fees because I felt it was right - on top of my fees as Tournament Director. The Director's fees is to manage the event as it happened, and the organizing fees are to cover for other expenses like going to sponsors to take up checks or submit proposals, making calls, petrol, site visits. I also resorted to the fact that if MCF does not want me to be the Tournament Director, then I would have not earned a single cent from that running around, nor any claims for petrol, parking, etc that I have spent? And if that happen, how do I get my money back from the event if I also do not get the organizing fees? You don't expect this to be free? National Service ah? Sorry lah... Like Ilham said, although I maybe an Ustaz, I still need to pay bills mah!

    For the Melaka event, since it is backed by the state government, a separate accounts is being set up by the them where all entry fees, payments, sponsorships, etc, will go to this account. We have put up the running cost and these are being scrutinized to make sure that if there are cost that can be saved, the sponsors will definitely want to save it. And where do you expect MCF to earn from this? Organizing fees? Like I said to you... there is no organizing fees added and even if it is added, I do not need to tell you what the sponsors will say - "tak payah lah organizing fees ni! Kamu dah dapat dah entry fees, apa nak lagi????"

    Your idea of MCF earning money is an old idea.... Of course you packaged it in a different way. I think you should read the articles that I wrote in Yahoo Group in 2003 - way back when Mark just started playing chess, and you probably don't even care how the sports will evolve.

  9. All I can see from what you have said is a lot of confusion about how to organise an event and how MCF and organisers should earn from the events so that each get the correct remuneration for their work and effort. If you are still not clear now, are you sure you want me to go back to 2003 to read what you thought then? And if you argue that you are clear then why the shambles as you described in Amateur? Why after so many years still this great confusion?

  10. Ha ha ha... There is no confusion, but frustration. FYI, my articles in 2003 is about how MCF can earn money from chess, not how I can earn..... So, with that, yes... go make my day.

    The shamble in Amateur is because I have to ask for my remuneration and gets chided because they think I earn a lot of money, and people expect me to provide a 'free service'. If all organizers were to put organizing fees when running MCF events, do yo think MCF will pay?

    Like someone once said to me "Tak per la, saya punya anak bini tak makan tak per, janji chess event boleh hidup"

  11. I think its very important to differentiate between MCF events and private events. If the sponsors are direct to MCF we have one condition and if the sponsors are direct to a company.

    If I am correct the Amateur was an MCF event and you were just a helper. MCF doesnt need an event manager and so no professional fees can be charged. This means Zuhri brought in the funds on behalf of MCF.

    That was the same situation as when we did the Asean training. We brought in the sponsorship and you charged us project management fees when we in fact did the project management. You were merely the supplier.

    I think that is the cause of your frustration. And I think its because you cannot differentiate the 2. Do a project yourself, bring in the sponsors your self and you can charge your professional fees.