TENGKU Mahaleel Tengku Ariff will bring a breath of fresh air to the badminton fraternity but it is equally important that the new BA of Malaysia (BAM) president makes drastic changes that the sport badly needs.
As always, there will be scepticism as Tengku Mahaleel is seen as a newcomer to the badminton scene, coming into the sport as the Kelantan BA president less than three years ago, but there is a clear reason for him taking up the challenge.
Tengku Mahaleel had a successful stint as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Proton Holdings from 1996 to 2005 and was named the CEO of the Year in 1999. He also helmed a number of well known companies as a corporate leader for over 40 years.
Known for his outspoken nature, bold decision-making and hands-on approach in the corporate world, he has all the ingredients needed for guiding BAM.
However, these changes will only be possible if Tengku Mahaleel is given a free hand but already the affiliates have created a tricky situation in naming his predecessor Datuk Seri Nadzmi Salleh as BAM honorary president.
Although Nadzmi will not have any executive powers or required to sit in on meetings, he must not take his advisory role too far lest he is seen as interfering.
Tengku Mahaleel has also made it clear that the position was given to Nadzmi in recognition of his 13-year service to BAM and that the former president must let the office bearers (when named) run the show without any disruption.
For starters, the new president has broke away with tradition by asking the previous office bearers to retain their respective positions for a month to help him familiarise himself with the current situation in BAM and how things were administered under Nadzmi.
This seems fair as it will allow Tengku Mahaleel to familiarise himself in new territory which in turn will allow him to take BAM down the best route possible.
Tengku Mahaleel’s immediate task is to appoint a secretary that he can rely on with the experience and ability to handle all the responsibilities that come with the job.
Ng Chin Chai has occupied the seat for three years and while many are satisfied with his efforts, it is clear that Malaysian badminton has remained stagnant, and he must also be accountable for several shortcomings as the secretary and coaching and training committee (CTC) chairman.
Being the most influential figure after the president, a secretary should not assume the position as CTC head as decision-making becomes difficult.
Tengku Mahaleel must ensure he picks a qualified candidate as the coaching and training committee is the most important of all the sub-committees and as such, its chairman will have a crucial role in turning around badminton’s fortunes.
The CTC chairman must be someone with a solid badminton background and also be in touch with current developments in order to be able to make sound decisions.
Tengku Mahaleel must be careful not to appoint a former top class international who is not well versed with the current badminton scene as he may not be able to contribute much.
Champions of yesteryear should be made welcome as they can be consulted on a regular basis and their inputs, if useful, should be utilised in the development of badminton.
There is plenty on Tengku Mahaleel’s plate as BAM chief but if he acts without fear or favour, he will gain the respect of the badminton fraternity in the long term.