OF FOOT­BALL, DEVEL­OP­MENT AND POL­I­TICS

Kedah team’s suc­cess proves that the state can make a mark on the na­tional stage

New Straits Times - - Opinion - The writer is Kedah men­teri be­sar

THE Kedah foot­ball team vic­tory in the FA Cup fi­nal re­cently was not only cel­e­brated by the peo­ple but also caught the in­ter­est of the Kedah roy­alty — avid sup­port­ers of the state’s foot­ball.

Sul­tan of Kedah Sul­tan Ab­dul Halim Mu’adzam Shah hosted a spe­cial din­ner on May 25 and handed over a RM20,000 bonus to the Red Ea­gle’s squad mem­bers for their glo­ri­ous achieve­ment in bring­ing back the FA Cup to Kedah after nine years.

It was the fourth FA Cup vic­tory for the Kedah foot­ball team after win­ning the com­pe­ti­tion for the first time in 1996, fol­lowed by 2007 and 2008.

The FA Cup is the third cup won by the Kedah team in a span of seven months after clinch­ing the pres­ti­gious Malaysia Cup cham­pi­onship in Oc­to­ber 2016, fol­lowed by the Sul­tan Haji Ah­mad Shah Cup in Jan­uary this year.

As the pres­i­dent of the Kedah Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (KFA), these achieve­ments are the man­i­fes­ta­tion of KFA’s com­mit­ment in build­ing a strong team based on our for­mula.

From an­other per­spec­tive, KFA has proven that the suc­cess of a squad does not de­pend solely on fi­nan­cial prow­ess, but is also built on solid team­work — from man­age­ment down to the squad and play­ers who dis­played heroic feats on the pitch.

These are the fac­tors that re­stored Kedah’s po­si­tion as among the giants in the Malaysian foot­ball league.

As Kedah has con­firmed a slot in the Asia Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup, the man­age­ment and play­ers must show greater sol­i­dar­ity and team­work to face the chal­lenges.

Through the pru­dent spend­ing phi­los­o­phy adopted by KFA, the as­so­ci­a­tion has been fo­cus­ing on grass­roots devel­op­ment and, at the same time, pay­ing due at­ten­tion to the wel­fare of the play­ers, of­fi­cers and our loyal fans.

I am proud to note that most of the play­ers in the cur­rent Kedah senior squad are young­sters born and raised in Kedah, which proves our abil­ity to pro­duce tal­ents ca­pa­ble of com­pet­ing in the na­tional foot­ball arena.

I am also very proud to say that we wish to churn out even more foot­ball tal­ents that are ca­pa­ble of mak­ing a mark in the in­ter­na­tional stage, through the Datuk Ah­mad Basri Academy.

On a sep­a­rate mat­ter, it seems that is­sues con­cern­ing devel­op­ment is a never-end­ing polemic in this state.

I have been ac­cused of try­ing to change the Kedah’s eco­nomic land­scape to an in­dus­tri­alised pow­er­house at the ex­pense of our sta­tus as the na­tion’s Rice Bowl.

I have made it clear, over and over, that Kedah will re­main the na­tion’s rice sup­plier and I wish to see that the padi fields re­ceive a mod­ern tech­nol­ogy in­jec­tion to boost pro­duc­tion.

The truth is, I am not try­ing to change the state eco­nomic land­scape, but rather to spur its growth by do­ing some mi­nor ad­just­ment by con­vert­ing some padi plots in the city area and re­plac­ing them in other ar­eas.

This move will in­di­rectly help to fur­ther ex­pand the Muda Agri­cul­ture Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity ter­ri­tory in the city out­skirts and ru­ral ar­eas, which have not re­ceived much at­ten­tion be­fore this. It is meant to spike the growth for both agri­cul­ture and in­dus­trial sec­tors in Kedah.

I hope this ex­pla­na­tion will clear the con­fu­sion raised by cer­tain quar­ters. But of course, I will have to get ready to face po­lit­i­cal back­lash from the op­po­si­tion, who will al­ways find ways to ma­nip­u­late such is­sues.

Talk­ing about pol­i­tics, I at­tended the 71st Umno an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion at Bukit Jalil Sta­dium ear­lier this month, which was at­tended by Umno pres­i­dent Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak.

I was truly amazed by the sea of red at the sta­dium, which was filled with the shouts of Umno mem­bers, who ral­lied be­hind the party that has been the back­bone of the Barisan Na­sional gov­ern­ment since In­de­pen­dence.

No­body could deny Umno and BN’s ad­van­tage as the coali­tion which has been com­mit­ted in serv­ing the peo­ple.

Why I am say­ing this? It is back to the re­al­ity that I men­tioned ear­lier that Umno is the back­bone party of a gov­ern­ment which has been rul­ing the na­tion for the past six decades.

Umno is never quiet from tri­als and tribu­la­tions and the party is now fac­ing slan­der and al­le­ga­tions meant to bring this party down. Even all the good deeds that were done through the party are be­ing claimed as in­di­vid­ual achieve­ments, although it is a fact that the lead­ers had achieved suc­cess based on sup­port from Umno and the peo­ple.

As a sea­soned politi­cian, I could not digest such a sit­u­a­tion and I am very sad with the slan­ders and lies made against the party, as if we had never done any­thing good in the eyes of the crit­ics.

For me, Malaysians must hon­estly re-eval­u­ate this mat­ter. I must also stress that although the gi­ant gath­er­ing in Bukit Jalil Sta­dium man­i­fested the fact that Umno is still strong and sup­ported by the mem­bers, it does not mean that Umno can sit on its lau­rels.

Let us pon­der for a mo­ment. Umno has been al­leged to have forced stu­dents to at­tend the gath­er­ing to fill up the sta­dium. Iron­i­cally, the op­po­si­tion did not think it was wrong when they dragged stu­dents to join them in the street protests dur­ing the Ber­sih gath­er­ings that, in re­al­ity, are dirty.

I have made it clear, over and over, that Kedah will re­main the na­tion’s rice sup­plier and I wish to see that the padi fields re­ceive a mod­ern tech­nol­ogy in­jec­tion to boost pro­duc­tion.

ZUBIR PIC BY LUQMAN HAKIM

The Kedah foot­ball team cel­e­brat­ing their vic­tory at the 2017 FA Cup fi­nal at the Shah Alam Sta­dium on May 20.

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