Monthly Archives: October 2010

Resignations at SingaporeSailing are part and parcel of leadership changes

The report:

This report appeared in today’s edition of The Straits Times. Similar reports appeared in The New Paper and Today.

Choppy Waters

(The Straits Times, 19 Oct 2010)

Two senior staff members quit sailing federation less than a month before Asian Games

By Lin Xinyi

WITH less than a month to the Asian Games, there are signs that the ride to Guangzhou is not going to be smooth for the Singapore Sailing Federation.

The national sports association yesterday confirmed that two senior staff members – executive director Edwin Low and head of high performance Mark Robinson – had tendered their resignation on Sept 24 and Oct 12, respectively.

However, they are expected to remain in their posts until after the Games in Guangzhou, where sailing is expected to deliver at least two gold medals.

Both men downplayed the significance of their departure and signalled a desire to move on.

According to a source, at least two more full-time staff members and a national coach are poised to leave – a claim denied by the association.

Parting will be hard for 54-year-old Low, who is also the secretary general.

He has been with SingaporeSailing since 2000, and was one of the pioneer staff at the National Sailing Centre.

‘After 10 years, it was definitely a tough decision to leave,’ he said. ‘I’ve had a good time. I suppose with a new management in place, it was a good time to step out before I got too deep in the system.’

Robinson, 36, joined as a technical manager in 2003. When asked if his decision to resign had anything to do with Low’s earlier resignation, Robinson said it was not a factor.

‘It’s just part of an ongoing evolution,’ he said. ‘I’m not sure it’s a dramatic event. I don’t think it’ll have any effect on the Asian Games.’

SingaporeSailing deputy president Dr Loh Kok Hua said that preparations for next month’s Guangzhou Games would not be disrupted.

‘This is a tremendous loss because of their sterling service to SingaporeSailing,’ said Dr Loh, who also chairs the search committee for suitable successors.

‘The most important thing now is to make sure that preparations continue and our sailors are well prepared.’

He expects the transition period to take up to six months but insisted that strategic plans will be carried out.

Low himself had taken over his current post from his predecessor Andrew Sanders in February.

In June, Dr Ben Tan took over the helm from outgoing president Low Teo Ping, who served for 12 years.

Dr Tan could not be reached for comment.

Teo Ping said he was numbed by the news but was quick to pay tribute to the two stalwarts.

Singapore’s chef de mission for the Asian Games said: ‘Knowing that Edwin and Mark are going to play pivotal roles in supporting the sailors, and hearing that they will leave only after the Asian Games, I’m relieved.’

With the Games beckoning, both Low and Robinson are eager to bow out on a high when they leave in April and January respectively.

 Said Low: ‘We’ve been working on the Asian Games project since 2006. We want to see this through and end on a good note.’

My thoughts:

To be honest,  I felt that the reports on Low and Robinson’s resinations in all the three main English papers ie The Straits Times, The New Paper and Today sounded a little alarmist.

Let’s give these two men a little more credit, hey? Yes, they have tendered their resignations, and yes, it is a pity to see them go, particularly Low who is a good bloke and whose ‘uncle-ly’ presence, I am sure, will be missed by the sailors.

But Robinson and Low  are only leaving in January and April, which means they will be around to see the Asian Games through before preparing the handing over process. So for the above report to say that “the ride to Guangzhou is not going to be smooth” is a bit of an extreme view.

Am I shocked by the resignations? Well, I was surprised when I read the reports today but then again, resignations are a common occurence in organisations whenever new leadership takes over at the helm.

For example, six top executives in the Singapore Sports Council subsequently resigned over a period of time after Oon Jin Teik took over as its chief executive in 2004. And now that Oon is leaving to join water management systems company Hyflux next year, it will be normal to expect some of his lieutenants to be quitting soon after his successor takes over.

Likewise, the senior management staff at the Singapore Athletics Association also stepped down soon after Loh Lin Kok announced that he would not be running for the presidency again.

As such, I felt it was a crude and cheap shot for a source to tell The New Paper that the resignations are not as amicable as they seem, that “there is discontent with the new management, wheher it’s because of their modus operandi or something else , I don’t know.”

What the resignations do suggest, however, is that former Singapore Sailing president Low Teo Ping and his successor Ben Tan probably have different leadership styles and that both men have different plans for the sport. And now Tan needs to find his own people to carry out his vision for the future of the sport.

Let’s see whether Tan’s own men can deliver the goods for Singapore sailing. Only after a period of time, when they have settled in, can we then be in a position to say whether the ride ahead for the sport is looking rough or smooth.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Sinapore’s ‘Voice of Soccer’ Jeffrey Low pays tribute to Dollah Kassim

The report:

This piece, written by Jeffrey Low, was for me the best tribute to the late Dollah Kassim among all the others today. It was lyrical, laced with detail, recalls football history in snapshots and brimmed with a tinge sadness, poignancy and tenderness. You could just imagine Low slapping Dollah on the back and saying “Have a safe journey, my friend, and remember us”. Just wanted to share it here.

God bless you, Dollah, I hope you are in a much better place now


Singapore Sports Fan

Dollah’s jinking all the way to heaven

(The Straits Times, 15 Oct 2010)


By Jeffrey Low

Got the wings of heaven on my shoes

I’m a dancin’ man and I just can’t lose

You know it’s all right, it’s okay

I’ll live to see another day…

Ah, ha, ha, ha, Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive

Ah, ha, ha, ha, Stayin’ alive

-The Bee Gees

Dear Dol,

You waited till yesterday, didn’t you? To stay alive for one whole year, just for the right time to say your final goodbye? Don’t worry, my friend. We can see you in your dancing boots, jinking all the way to heaven, to the rhythm of one of your all-time favourite songs, pointing to us that, yes, on this day you should be on the bus too.

But then again, we know you will be on that bus this morning, with the boys, with the brightness of your spirit illuminating the path to the Shah Alam Stadium, where they will play for you, and you alone.

For it was exactly one year and 10 days ago that you gave your life to football, in this very same auspicious event, the Sultan of Selangor’s Cup, playing only five minutes at the Jalan Besar Stadium before calling it quits.

On the bus to Kuala Lumpur this morning, your pals will ask for your blessings, the guys who found glory with you – Samad Allapitchay, S. Rajagopal, Quah Kim Song, Robert Sim, Hasli Ibrahim, Lim Tien Jit, Ho Kwang Hock.

And at Shah Alam for tomorrow’s veterans match against Selangor, Soh Chin Aun will be there, the one you took such Sgreat pleasure in beating. And so would Santokh Singh, who used to shout at you: ‘Come lah! You dare?’

Many had tried to break your legs. But all had failed. Many have tried to imitate you. None have succeeded.

For there can only be one ‘Gelek King’, one Dollah Kassim, the one who rose from a scrawny 12-year-old juggling ragged balls in the back alleys of Farrer Park, to one of the greatest legends in the annals of local football.

Say hello to Uncle Choo Seng Quee for us, the one who discovered you, nurtured you, loved you exceedingly for the way you could twist and turn and tear away to kingdom come. Many times over the years Uncle would say of you: ‘Dollah has the pace and acceleration that will tear his markers apart, especially in that crucial 10-yard burst that will leave everyone in his wake.’

And that was how you scored the best goal of your 11-year international career, your second goal against Pahang in Singapore’s 2-0 Malaysia Cup victory at the Grand Old Dame in 1975. In your own words you said: ‘That was my most memorable goal. Zainal Abidin sent me a through-ball from midfield, a Pahang defender came rushing at me, but with one swerve I beat him.

‘By this time I was already in the six-yard box, but the goal was guarded by three men on the line – goalkeeper Redzuan Shamsuddin, and defenders Jamal Nasir and Ramli Mahmud.

‘With another body feint, Jamal slipped and fell down, and Ramli was going the wrong way. With only the goalie to beat, I pushed the ball forward a bit and pretended to kick. The goalie fell for the trick and dived. So it was an open goal for me.’

Across the entire region, from the Thai King’s Cup, to the Merdeka tournament, the Jakarta Anniversary and the President Park Cup in Seoul, the name Dollah Kassim was respected, revered, and most of all, reviled.

And from Kangar to Kota Baru and Kuantan, across to Alor Star, Georgetown and Ipoh, to the ‘Kubu Hoodoo’ of Malacca and the Larkin in Johor Baru, people came to see Dollah and his men light up the Malaysia Cup.

Proud were we to own you, a son of the soil whose greatest moments were reserved for the National Stadium’s sacred turf, where the Kallang Roar erupted for you and the gang of the 70s.

In fact, Dol, you could have lasted more than 11 years in the Singapore shirt. And when you gave up in 1979 at age 30, no amount of appeals from the fans, officials and the press could change your mind. As you put it: ‘There’s no guarantee I’ll be third time lucky (after suffering two successive right-shoulder dislocations in the 1978 and 1979 Merdeka tournaments). I don’t want to go through the pain again.’

Ah, yes, you hated that certain Indonesian hard-man named Simson Rumahpasal, who roughed you up, who made you pun: ‘Alamak, that fella really cari pasal (looking for trouble).’

Dol, we love you for your honesty, your hand of friendship for everyone you met, and above all, for your devotion to the heavens above. Sometime soon, we will drop by your favourite makan place at the corner of Kandahar Street, to wait for your spirit to return, like you always did, to join us for nasi padang after your Friday prayers.

Ikan bakar, rendang, telur dada… fare thee well, my friend. And thank you for stayin’ alive – until the right time. Amen.

Jeffrey Low, 63, is a former sports writer with The Straits Times and The New Paper. He covered the Malaysia Cup from 1969 to 1994

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Newsbreak: Singapore football legend Dollah Kassim has died

Football legend Dollah Kassim died this morning. He had suffered a heart attack during a friendly match between the Singapore and Selangor Veterans last October and stayed in a coma for a year. He was 61.

Here’s the statement from the Football Association of Singapore regarding the sad news:

Update @ 2245hrs: Here’s the report on Dollah’s funeral procession which appeared on The Straits Times Online about 30 minutes ago:

My deepest condolences to his family.

I never had the chance to watch Dollah play for Singapore live as I only started watching the Lions in the Malaysia Cup from 1980 onwards. I think he had retired by then. 

But in my encounters with him, he always struck me as a friendly, genial and humble person.

Dollah will always be considered one of the giants of Singapore football, one who lit up the National Stadium and brought thousands of fans to their feet with his magical skills, and that, perhaps, is the best way to remember the ‘Gelek King’ by.

God bless you, Dollah.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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