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Monday, June 10, 2019

Of Another Presidential Election - Here We Go Again!

In 2016, when Tan Sri Ramli decided that it was time for him to say goodbye to chess, the candidates vying for the post were two newcomers to chess; YB Dato Zahidi, an MP from Perlis, and Dato Nazifuddin Mohd Najib, the son of the then Prime Minister Mohd Najib Razak. While I was out of action from chess at that point of time, I understood that the position was tightly contested but in the end, YB Dato Zahidi emerged victorious and has history put it, became the next MCF President to succeed Tan Sri Ramli.

Three (3) years on, here we are again at the same juncture to face another election to vote for a president that will lead us into the Wawasan Year of 2020. This year's election will be somewhat similar to that of 2016 as the current President - YB Dato Zahidi, has voiced his intention to not contest the 2019/21 MCF Presidential race, just like what Tan Sri Ramli did in 2016. And with him almost out of it, MCF will need to look for a new and capable leader to helm the Federation. But who do we have lined up for the post? And who will be the favorite to win it all?

For many, Akhramsyah Muamar Ubaidah Sanusi is the current front runner and next in line to fill up the hot Presidential seat. The son of former Menteri Besar of Kedah - the late Tan Sri Dato Seri Sanusi Junid, Akhramsyah is no stranger to the chess community. With his children actively playing the game, Akhram can be seen accompanying his children at weekend events in the local circuits and even at regional level events. Akhram is also well know for his generosity and his desire to help the community as he once aided the Malaysian squad to settle a "dispute" when the National Team was stranded abroad. From my point of view, once elected, Akhramsyah will be the first MCF President in more than a decade who rises to the top post from being a part of the community - the last being the late Dato Tan himself. No disrespect to the previous Presidents but Tan Sri Ramli does not play chess and YB Zahidi, although he plays a bit of chess, he was not a part of the community prior to becoming a President and only surfaced when he was vying for the top post. In both ocassions, neither Tan Sri nor YB Dato was a member of the community or were well known within the chess community except during the election period.

Akhramsyah has the right formula to bring MCF back to the correct path
For many who are involved in the Malaysian Chess Community, the traditional belief is that the President must be a person who is able to find money, and if he is able to do so, he is then a "good" President. For me, while it is good to have a rich President who can dig deep into his pocket - like Dato Tan, I find the logic very disturbing and apalling, that money is the main criteria to be voted into office. In all honesty, that sounds more like a Hindi or Malay drama plot which is so cliche and very unimaginative. Agree that money helps but, money is not everything. At this juncture, we need to find a President that can steer us into progress, development and improvement. We need a person with the right vision that can help catapult chess to become the sports of choice, and to be known for all the right reasons and not because of the many scandals, controversies and its lack of directions. While Akhram may not be as rich as Dato Tan and he is not a member of the Parliament like Tan Sri or Dato YB, Akhram still packs the capability to obtain resources for support in his capacity as a Council member of Bersatu - one of the country's leading political party, and as the newly minted Chairman of Mara Corp. But more importantly, as an experience corporate leader, Akhram should be able to shape the Federation and the chess community to become more respected, organized and developed through his visions and capability to lead. From what we have gathered, Akhram has already started his networking to collaborate with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Sports on how to help chess gain visibility and recognition. And that is already a good start.

So, who else is there in the running for the top post?

Rumours have it that the challengers going against Akhram are no other than the current MCF VP Rahim Shah Husin Shah and long time chess entreprenuer Mohd Fadli Zakaria. While Rahim Shah may be the current VP in MCF, he is still a new figure in the chess scene and is still learning the trick of the trade in managing the day to day running of the Federation. Prior to his appointment, not many in the chess community has heard off Rahim Shah or is aware of any contributions that he has made to chess. For Mohd Fadli Zakaria, although he is a well known chess entreprenuer, Fadli lacks the track record of managing the corporate world as he has always been involve in chess from as far as many can remember. For me, MCF is similar to a corporate set up and in its current situation, MCF needs a strong leader that can help to steer the Federation towards the right course. Fadli is more like the Sales or Marketing person in the Organization Chart but his Management or Leadership capability is questionable and unproven. No disrespect to Rahim or Fadli but, I sincerely believe that they need to convince the community better if they were to run for the Presidential post. But of course, both can probably put up a good fight against Akhram's camp.

Of late, words are abuzz that another candidate will be entering the Presidential race and while the candidacy is yet to be confirmed, it is believed that the candidate is a Member of Parliament who is involved as an advisor for one of the state chess association. 

In all honesty, while the MP maybe a popular figure in his state - and perhaps with excellent track records as a politician, I sincerely feel that the chess community must think twice ( long and hard) before voting him in as he is rather alien and new to the community, and would not know what is wrong (or right) with the Federation. For all purposes, the President (or the candidate to be President) should know the pulse and the beat of the players and organizers within the community, has been minggling long enough with the community to understanding and feel what the community wants, and the ability to address concern and issues faced by the federation and its members. Candidates who comes in from outside the community (and appear only days before the election), may find themselves too dependent on the advice and views of the existing officials around him rather than making decisions based on his own understanding that is just and right for the community. 

But all in all, no disrespect to any of the candidates but as a member of the chess community since the late 80's, the progress and development of chess has been very stagnant as such, there is a need to revive the situation to make it better and more progressive. And I believe with Akhram at the helm - and being someone familiar with the community, he should be able to fit into the position well and help steer Chess into a new golden era because he knows and have seen what the community needs

Akhramsyah Muamar Ubaidah Sanusi - Our soon to be MCF President? Hopefully so...
In any case, based on recent news from the grapevine, the "Akhramsyah for President" movement has already secured support from a few states that have expressed their support for him. But of course, nothing is confirmed until "the ballots are counted".

But all should be fair and square for all the candidates - be it those that are vying for the critical post, or those for the supporting role, and for me, while I would like to see Akhram at the helm, at the end of the day, be it Akhramsyah or someone else holding the position, we want to see improvement and development being paved for the community. 

Gens Una Sumus - We Are One Family

Can't wait for 29th June 2019!!

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