Soon Kooi ‘clears air’ over sud­den res­ig­na­tion

New Straits Times - - Sport -

DATUK Ow Soon Kooi likes to stay away from con­tro­ver­sies, and is al­ways diplo­matic even though the sit­u­a­tion war­rants other­wise.

And so it came as a sur­prise when he called for a press con­fer­ence to clear the air on why he re­signed from the Malaysian Hockey Con­fed­er­a­tion (MHC) vice-pres­i­dent as well as the coach­ing com­mit­tee chair­man post in a huff.

He had then cited health rea­sons for quit­ting every post in the MHC. But yes­ter­day he said he had to clear the air as al­le­ga­tions in news and other me­dia had tar­nished his “cor­po­rate-man” im­age.

And many personalities from the Malaysian hockey fra­ter­nity at­tended his press con­fer­ence at the Olympic Coun­cil of Malaysia ho­tel yes­ter­day.

In walked 1975 World Cup mem­bers Datuk Poon Fook Loke, R. Path­mara­jah and skip­per Datuk Sri Shan­mu­ganathan.

And also turn­ing up was 1975 World Cup top um­pire Datuk G. Vi­jayanathan who blew dur­ing the In­dia-Pak­istan fi­nal.

For­mer Na­tional Ju­niors coach Bal­bir Singh, in­ter­na­tional Gur­mit Singh, M. Sambu were there too, and it looked like a re-union of greats as even some women na­tional play­ers came.

But it was not a merry get-to­gether, as they had come to lis­ten to for­mer skip­per and two-time Olympian as well as two-time World Cup player Soon Kooi speak his heart.

Soon Kooi started by pre­sent­ing all the work his com­mit­tee has done over the years, with statis­tics, to show that his com­mit­tee was not dor­mant as al­leged by many.

And he also said the rea­son why they had only one meet­ing in 2016 was that ev­ery­thing was in place by then, and they ran the show by mak­ing de­ci­sions on a so­cial me­dia group-chat.

Soon Kooi said his rep­u­ta­tion as a “cor­po­rate man” was built on be­ing strict about rules and hi­er­ar­chy. He doesn’t be­lieve in break­ing rank, and fol­lowed pro­ce­dure to be where he is to­day from a poor, very poor back­ground.

Be­ing a for­mer po­lice­man did not “help” when he watched oth­ers break­ing the hi­er­ar­chy rules.

And when MHC of­fi­cials made de­ci­sions on be­half of his com­mit­tee and com­pelled them to fol­low — it made him mad.

He gave ex­am­ples, which named four of­fi­cials of be­ing guilty, with the prime tar­get be­ing Tech­ni­cal Direc­tor Terry Walsh.

Soon Kooi gave ex­am­ples where Walsh made coach­ing de­ci­sions with­out con­sult­ing his com­mit­tee, and it made them won­der who is run­ning the show.

Cit­ing an ex­am­ple, Soon Kooi nar­rated about the hir­ing of Paul Lis­sek to be­come the in­door hockey con­sul­tant for Sea Games.

Walsh had ap­proached Soon Kooi about the mat­ter and when asked, he was told that Lis­sek is will­ing to work for free or at a nom­i­nal fee — as Lis­sek had coached the Malaysian field hockey team be­fore and was very knowl­edge­able about in­door hockey as well.

Soon Kooi and Walsh agreed on an RM X amount to be paid to Lis­sek as a con­sul­tant. But af­ter three weeks, Soon Kooi found out that Lis­sek was be­ing paid six and a half time higher than the dis­cussed salary.

When he asked an MHC of­fi­cial about it, the of­fi­cial said he had raised the salary all by him­self – with­out con­sult­ing any­body.

There were many other ex­am­ples of med­dling in his com­mit­tee, but the Lis­sek episode broke the camel’s back, and cou­pled with his nag­ging neck pain, Soon Kooi de­cided to call it a day.

At­tempts to call and SMS MHC pres­i­dent Datuk Seri Suba­han Ka­mal to clear the air on the above issue were not an­swered. Jug­jet Singh

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