For many chess people, the contributions of Tan Sri Ramli and that of Dato Seri Edmond Santhara are probably much publicized. So who is Mohd Zuhri Abdullah?
The name Mohd Zuhri Abdullah have only surfaced about 4 years ago when he first contributed some funds for the National Junior squad to take part in the World Youth Chess Championship held in Turkey. The flag presentation ceremony by MCF to the National Squad was conducted at IIUM (International Islamic University Malaysia) in Gombak during the University's annual rapid event where Zuhri formally announced his sponsorship for some of the players in the squad. And for me, that was the first time I had the opportunity of meeting Mohd Zuhri - albeit it was just a short "Hi". From then on, MCF committee began to take note of his interest to help develop and grow chess in Malaysia. Soon after in 2011, the opportune moment came when Tan Sri Ramli invited Zuhri to fill up the vacant spot as Deputy President which was left open by incumbent Tuan Haji Ibrahim Abu Bakar. And with the appointment, Zuhri's was entrusted with his first task - to manage and execute the ASIAN AMATEUR OPEN and WOMEN CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP, and what an impact he had made.
For one thing, he was able to attract the Management of CROWNE MUTIARA HOTEL to sponsor the venue for the event, a 5 star hotel located right in the center of Kuala Lumpur. On top of the venue sponsorship which already worth almost RM200k, Zuhri managed to attract another RM40k for the event through his business connections and influence. What is interesting about Zuhri is that, he is 110% involved in the setting up and the running of the event. On most of the event days, you can probably see him roaming around the playing hall ensuring that the event is properly managed and handled. Despite the fact that the event was his first - what more, it was an international level event, Zuhri managed to complete the task successfully, and brought in financial surplus for the Federation.
You can read his short interview during the event with Casto Abundo about his vision for the future of Malaysian Chess in the following link http://www.asianchess.com/news/view/asian-news/interview-of-malaysian-chess-federation-deputy-president-mohd-zuhri-abdullah
Hungry for more, Zuhri decided to focus on the local scene and set up the most lucrative local team chess event in the country - the KASUGI Team event which was held at CitiTel Express Hotel and attracted more than 80 teams from all over the country, including a few international teams. The two day event was one of the more participated events in the country for 2012 calendar and it was indeed a great success for him. From what I understood, he had also pledged to continue sponsoring the event for the next 5 years and we can definitely look forward for the event to grow and become one of the more awaited events in the local chess calendar - rivaling the Merdeka Team Chess Championship
The one thing that is most noticeable about this Presidential candidate is his commitment and willingness to go to the ground i.e. "turun padang", to observe, and help managed and operate the event that he is involved in. This can be easily seen in the business practice that he is involved in - his agriculture and restaurant businesses where he literally dress down to ensure that he understands the situation from the ground up. Comparing to his challengers - Tan Sri Ramli who has Greg and Dato Seri Endmond with Peter, Zuhri prefers to do things on his own, having his own ideas and vision on how things need to be done, and done correctly - definitely a valuable character that is needed in MCF to make sure that each task and venture are executed to the letter.
Will he win?
Competitions will be tough and the only concern that some people may have is that Zuhri is relatively new to chess compared to Tan Sri/Greg and Dato Seri Edmond/Peter but, just because he is new, it does not mean that he cannot deliver. Perhaps, it is about time that chess has someone new at the helm. With the National General Election pointing towards a change in the government, perhaps the same is needed for MCF.
But whatever it is, sincerity, vision, transparency and honesty are some of the most important values that MCF and its committee (championed by the President) must have and with that, it may not matter who wins. But the winner, must be able to govern MCF correctly and truthfully, be it Zuhri, Tan Sri, Dato Edmond or whoever else who will be sitting at the helm. The saying goes that it is better to have the devil that we know than the angel that we don't, but then again, there is no harm to give it to the angel..... right? Because sometimes, we know too well what the devil is capable of.....