Monthly Archives: July 2010

Ministry of Finance Sports Carnival 2010: 31st July: table tennis: finished second

This time there was no flooding in Penampang to prevent me from arriving early – in fact there has been no major flood there since late 2008.

In the first round we were drawn with PST (a combination of 3 teams) and another team – which we easily disposed of. In my 25 years of playing table tennis, in singles or doubles, I had never blanked anybody, but this time, playing with Ornest in the officers’ category, the impossible happened.

One could argue that we had an easy draw, but our opponents in the quarterfinals, Sabah Credit Corporation (SCC), were quite a strong team, so after a bit of a struggle, we prevailed 3-1.

Then, in the semifinals, we had a surprisingly easy 4-0 win over Sabah Development Bank.

In the other semifinals, 5-times champion and perennial favourites MOF suffered yet another heartbreak when they were defeated by arch-rivals Borneo Housing (BH) 2-3. That moment when MOF’s open pair lost 2-3 to BH was the end – in the 5th and last leg, BH’s women doubles proved far too strong. To me, the MOF-BH match should’ve been the final – their matches have always been close. MOF went on to win bronze.

So, compared to 2008, we seemingly marched to the final with relative ease, until we met our nemesis of 2008 yet again in BH. They led 1-0 after Ornest and I were whitewashed 0-3 in our category, then Voo/Daniel had yet another titanic match-up with probably the same guys from 2008, losing the 5th rubber via deuce, after initially trailing 1-2 and pulling level. In the mixed doubles, Hadiran/Shirley still managed to win a set but in the end found the journey a step too far.

So, BH had already won 3-0 while our best combination, Sariwan-Arjuna were playing, and who again proved that they’re the best pair in the whole MoF fraternity when they defeated BH’s best pair in straight sets, thus remaining undefeated in the whole tournament. So final score was 4-1 to BH, identical to 2 years ago.

That means, right until the end, our women’s doubles never even needed to lift a bat, to which Chia readily agreed that it’s a case of “working smart” :-)

Looking back, I think our department’s ping pong standard is improving, since in 2006 we finished 3rd, which in living memory was the first medal we ever won for that sport. Then 2 years ago, in the semis we defeated SCC 3-2, whom we’d never beaten in previous tournaments, after trailing 1-2. This time, it was a fairly straightforward win.

Then there’s Shirley who proved to be an able paddler in her very first outing – she should’ve been in the team since years ago!

Our greatest challenge remains the same: to have the motivation to train and compete in other tournaments after this, and not wait another 2 years to do so!

And when it comes to cameras, our department’s posse of photogs is second to none – brandishing huge “weapons” dwarfing everybody else’s!

Finally, bringing gadgets, like your ipad, to sports event like this, when there are so many people around, are a no-no if you don’t have ipad insurance, the risk is just too great without it.

Football: Malaysia’s most celebrated goal (Part 3)

Part 1, Part 2.

James Wong revealed more about his experiences after scoring that momentous goal in an interview with Berita Harian in 2005.

He said every member of the team truly felt like national heroes that night. There were many fans and supporters who gathered in front of the changing room, cheering and chanting the players’ names while waiting for the team to come out to greet and offer their congratulations.

People were asking for their jerseys, shorts, socks, boots and even their underwear as mementoes.

James recalled that he threw to the fans everything he wore during the match, including his number 9 jersey and yes, his underwear, which they scrambled to collect!

He continued that during the match, when he saw Hassan running with the ball, he rushed to the Koreans’ penalty area, with two / three defenders at his front and back. He knew that Hassan normally would not go for goal but instead pass to him, and that’s what actually happened. At that time he was surrounded by several defenders, but managed to unleash a fierce shot that evaded the keeper. When he saw that the ball had gone in, he screamed and ran back towards Hassan, before falling down flat and mobbed by teammates until he could barely breathe.

When the final whistle blew, some of the players were in disbelief and most shed tears of joy. Some kneeled. The players and officials embraced each other.

Coach Karl Weigang also embraced him and thanked him for scoring the goal. He was almost in tears.

The team then rounded off the celebrations with a victory parade around the stadium.

After the match, every player was given a bonus of RM1,000 by FAM and the Ahli Mangku Negara (AMN) medal from the King.

Even though it happened 25 years earlier, it was clearly a special moment as reflected in James’ expressions during the interview.

But when he found out that Malaysia had boycotted the 1980 Olympiad, he was terribly disappointed, as that was long held dream, and still did until the present. Every time he watched an Olympics opening ceremony, he’d feel deep sadness and sometimes shed tears.

The FAM made up for it by giving each player an all-expenses paid leisure trip to Europe.

I hear both James and Hassan are still active at sports now, so it wouldn’t come as a surprise if you find them driving a car installed with a yakima roof rack.

Football: Malaysia’s most celebrated goal (Part 2)

Part 1

30 years later, interest in that moment was resurrected with a series of TV and billboard ads by Maxis coinciding with the 2010 World Cup. I won’t be surprised if promotional tote bags were part of the deal too.

That moment was re-enacted heartwarmingly by a group of kids, with then captain Soh Chin Aun looking on:

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The following is Hassan Sani’s video segment, in which he described that moment:

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The following is James Wong’s video segment, in which he told what it was like then:

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Epilogue:
- as we all know, Malaysia boycotted the 1980 Olympiad, hence the famous team didn’t see action on the world stage. We were replaced by Iraq, who were drawn in Group D together with Yugoslavia, Finland & Costa Rica. Iraq finished 2nd in that group, hence advanced to the quarterfinals, where they were thrashed 0-4 by East Germany, who went on to win silver, having lost 0-1 to Czechoslovakia in the final.
- before 1980, South Korea had qualified for the Olympics on 2 occasions: 1948 and 1964, and the World Cup once: in 1954. Since 1986, they had never failed to qualify for both the World Cup and the Olympics. If I’m not mistaken, Malaysia last defeated South Korea in 1985.

Finally, a proper UFO sighting in Sabah?

UPDATE 6.30pm

It seems that a plausible explanation for the phenomenon is that the “UFO” was merely a lenticular cloud, i.e. a cloud that is shaped like a lens. This kind of cloud is usually mistaken for alien planes. The colour change could be due to “irisation” which could sometimes be seen on the edges.

An example is the following which was seen over the British coast for almost an hour in January 2009:

Of course that could not explain the “a mere minute later [it] disappeared in an instant,” although that could very well be an exaggeration by the witnesses.

Whatever it is, this wonder of nature should not stop one from doing a Paul Vasquez :-)

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After that front-page-reported “UFO sighting” by no less than the Managing Director of Sabah Publishing House Datuk Clement Yeh on 11th October 2007, we finally could have a real mystery on our hands.

Date: 18th July 2010 (Sunday)
Time: afternoon
Place: Tuaran Beach Resort

Witnesses reported a circular, blue object floating in the sky that a few seconds later turned green, and a mere minute later disappeared in an instant, all in complete silence.

The following is purported to be a photo of the saucer – I know, even without aliens from outer space, the photo already looks spectacular doesn’t it:

UFO tuaran
[Photo credit: Mohd Azrone Sarabatin]

Zoomed:

Conveniently, as expected, “some” mobile phones used to take photos of the object “switched off by themselves”, as if the creature piloting the alien plane used a universal remote control compatible with many mobile phones in the known universe.

This piece of news was reported in Harian Metro and not any of the major dailies. Does that say anything to you?

Someone mentioned that it’s merely a photo of a helicopter at the lowest ISO setting possible. Someone else said it’s merely a cloud formation. Some wondered whether the photo above was taken from inside a room, hence the object was merely a reflection of a light inside – but probably all the witnesses were outside the building, perhaps even some even looked up while working on the equestrian apparel next door. Inevitably, someone quipped that it was a Zionist plot to stray Malays away from the true path.

Apparently the last time a bona fide UFO appeared in the country was in 1999 in Tanjung Sepat, Kuala Langat, Selangor. But according to George Matanjun, a Catholic Lay Minister and a Catechist, hence “does not lie”, as reported at UFOevidence.org, he saw a UFO on 8th October 2005 at Tanjung Aru Beach, Kota Kinabalu.

Then there was that “Flying Coffin” over Kota Kinabalu airport that was caught on CCTV as reported in TV3′s Misteri Nusantara in October 2002, which rose near the sea, flew “at great speed” over the terminal, then disappeared behind the adjacent hills, all in complete silence. The radar station did not pick it up.

Sabahans certainly have a penchant for extra-terrestrials, for probably the first reported UFO abduction in the history of the nation was reported to have happened near Tambunan in February 2001, where a man claimed that a square-headed alien wanted to “take him away,” and he apparently did disappear for 11 days, which was very unusual – most “UFO abductees” went missing for a maximum of 5 days. But chillingly, the coordinator of The Centre for Malaysian UFO Studies (Cenmyufos), Ahmad Jamaludin said, “there were some UFO activities around Kota Kinabalu at that time that could lend some credence to the claim.”

Close encounters of the third kind, Sabah style? Perhaps he just had one tapai too many.

Football: Malaysia’s most celebrated goal (Part 1)

Long before the era of ipods, on 6th April 1980, 4 (5?) minutes before the end of normal time, with the score at 1-1, the most famous goal in Malaysia’s footballing history was the product of a brilliant counter-attack: left wing Hassan “Lipas Kudung” Sani, then 22, received the ball well in his own half, then ran with it, beating 2 South Koreans in the process, then when confronted by the last defender, Cho Young-jeung, instead of taking on the man, passed to the waiting striker “King” James “Ah Fook” Wong Chye Fook – then 28 – instead, who, after evading a desperate tackle by Young-jeung, slotted home past the keeper (Kim Hwang-ho?).

The inimitable Azmi Anshar summed it up:

…that immortal 20-second Hassan Sani-James Wong beautiful game combination that led to that second and most important goal ever scored by Malaysia because it was a historic and definitive moment that hoisted the country to actual world football glory.

So Malaysia won 2-1 and qualified for the football tournament at the 1980 Olympics: the highest level one could go at amateur level.

Bakri Ibni had opened the score in the 12th, then Kim Gang-nam equalised in the 58th.

Malaysia was then coached by Karl Heinz Weigang, and the late great Mokhtar “Supermokh” Dahari, then 26, was not even part of the team.

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The commentary is memorable too, especially the last 20 seconds, when the commentator uttered the now-immortal phrase “Cocok Hassan,” and suddenly became gravelly-voiced when the ball reached Wong:

Jung-moo, ke tengah, Khalid, dapat kepada Hassan, masih lagi Hassan, cocok Hassan, Hassan, Young-jeung mengejar, kepada James, peluang untuk James, James, GOL, GOL

Classic. I think every Malaysian football fan still remember that commentary word for word.

Just look at the Malaysian starting lineup – it’s almost like a who’s-who list of the greatest Malaysian footballers ever:

R. Arumugam a.k.a Spiderman, then 27
Jamal Nasir
Soh Chin Aun, then 29
Santokh Singh, then 28
Kamaruddin Abdullah
Bakri Ibni
Shukor Salleh
Khalid Ali
Abdullah Ali
Hassan Sani, then 22
James Wong, then 28

The South Korean first XI:
Kim Hwang-ho
Choi Jong-duk
Cho Young-jeung
Lee Jang-soo
Kim Hong-joo
Park Sang-in
Kim Gang-nam
Cho Gwang-rae
Shin Hyun-ho
Chung Hae-won
Huh Jung-moo [then 25, playing for PSV Eindhoven. He played for South Korea in the 1986 World Cup and scored a goal against Italy. His enduring image is probably that foul against Diego Maradona in the same tournament. In the match against Italy, he scored 1 goal. He later became South Korea's coach at the 2010 World Cup.]

I am not sure why the legendary Cha Bum-Kun, then 27 and playing for Eintracht Frankfurt, the IFFHS’s Asia’s Player of the Century and all time leading goal scorer for the South Korean National team (55 goals in 121 games) did not play.

Results of previous matches:
beat South Korea 3-0 [James Wong, Khalid Ali & Abdullah Ali scored,
Cho Gwang-rae missed penalty]
drew 1-1 Japan (bereft of Kunishige Kamamoto and Yasuhiko Okudera)
beat Brunei 3-1
beat Indonesia 6-1
beat Philippines 8-0

Malaysia topped the group, the Koreans second, but the winner of the group was determined via a playoff, hence the legendary match with South Korea was a rematch of sorts.

Thus, Malaysia won the qualifying round and hence made it to the 1980 Olympics, the second, and last time the nation ever qualified for a world-level football tournament.

Needle of Tambun: the phallic symbol of Malaysia?

When I visited The Lost of World of Tambun [a theme park] in Ipoh recently, I can’t really remember the park brochure advertising that a wonder of nature is in the vicinity.

So after seeing the Siberian tigers, the concrete walkway ended, but I saw a van coming out of a corner. Curious, I walked towards it, saw a huge clearance, and flanked by hundreds of meters of limestone, the imposing Needle of Tambun itself, that standalone rock formation, greeted me.

My cheapskate camera didn’t do justice to the awesome sight, Yin See’s photo is much better:

Full size: I wonder if people carry out fertility “treatments” here. Whatever it is, John Dillinger would surely have been impressed too.

Apparently 80m high, taller than the pinnacles of Mulu (50m tall) and was climbed by a team of 6 world-class, phentermine-free rock climbers recently.


[Photo source - vertical-adventure.com]

I think even Alain Robert would be proud of these guys.

World Cup Final 2010

I have not missed watching a World Cup final match live on the telly since 1982, and have done so in the comfort of home all these years.

But this year was different – I was in Ipoh when the final took place.

The hotel room didn’t have Astro (even if they did, I doubt if they had channel 805+ on anyway) and I didn’t fancy going out at 2am. So it was a relief when I realised that TV1 was going to show it – but don’t they do that for the most important football match every 4 years anyway?

I didn’t sleep earlier in the evening, but even apidexin scam commercials could not have made me sleepy.

I didn’t want to wake up the rest of the family, so it was a “sober final,” unlike my previous 3 World Cup finals.

And Ipoh seemed deathly quiet but I swear I heard celebratory screams at 5.30am an instant after this happened:

A few hours later, I celebrated Holland’s defeat frolicking at the Lost World of Tambun.

House project: downlights

Around Kota Kinabalu, I found that the cheapest, yet reasonable-quality downlights can be found at CNK Lighting, Taman Millennium, along the Penampang bypass. They sell every kind of lighting and bulbs imaginable, including of course low voltage garden lights.

Earlier in the year I bought 38 units of 6″, white frame downlights for RM13 – that includes free China-made bulbs. These bulbs proved to be not so bright – but still suitable for balconies, storerooms and other places in the house where it doesn’t need to be so bright at night.

Later I bought brighter types (Philips, 18W, screw-on) for RM12 each.

Football: Malaysia’s performances in the World Cup

Of course Malaysia never made to the World Cup finals, but I thought it would be interesting to look back on how we fared during the qualifying rounds, especially during the period of our greatest strength, that is the 1970s and early 1980s, to gauge our level with the strongest nations.

It seems that the first World Cup qualifying in which Malaysia participated was for the 1974 edition. In May 1973, we held South Korea 0-0 in Seoul and a few days later defeated Thailand 2-0 at the same venue. Unfortunately we’d lost 0-3 to a strong Israel side earlier. For the record, there was only one place for AFC and OFC: Australia qualified after beating South Korea (yes, they regrouped) 1-0 in the final match.

So how did Australia fare at the finals? In June 1974, they first lost 0-2 to East Germany, then 0-3 to eventual world champions West Germany. East Germany also qualified for the 2nd round, and they lost 0-1 to reigning world champions Brazil 0-1 and the Johan Cruyff-inspired Holland 0-2.

Can you visualise where Malaysia was roughly then?

In the 1978 World Cup qualification, in the first round Malaysia defeated Thailand 6-4, lost to hosts Singapore 0-1 and drew with table toppers Hong Kong 0-0. We finished 3rd in the group, only the group topper (Hong Kong) qualified for the final round. There, they performed miserably, losing all their 8 matches, scoring 5 and conceding 26 goals. The group was won by Iran – the only Asian representative to that year’s World Cup.

So what happened to Iran in Argentina 78? The reigning Asian champions finished last in their group, losing 0-3 to Holland, drew 1-1 with Scotland and 1-4 to group topper Peru. Peru then disintegrated in the next round, including 6-0 thrashing by Argentina. Holland went on to the final, losing 1-3 to Argentina in extra time.

Can you visualise where Malaysia was roughly then?

In the 1982 World Cup qualifiers, in the first round Malaysia finished 3rd best in their group to a rampant Kuwait, to whom we lost 0-4 away and suffered a narrow 1-2 loss to South Korea. Only Kuwait advanced to the final round, which they duly topped, and whose only blemish was their shock 0-3 loss to China in Beijing.

So Kuwait went to Espana 82, only to find themselves in a tough group – with England, France and Czechoslovakia for company. Still, they did commendably well, holding the Czechs to a draw and limiting England to a 1-0 victory. The one against France ended in a 1-4 defeat. England topped the group, but were sent packing in the 2nd round, while France finished fourth.

Can you visualise where Malaysia was roughly then?

So as you can see, even during the era of our supposed greatest strength, we did not even make to at least the second round of qualification. We always found opposition like Singapore and even Hong Kong tough customers, what more the more established nations. So what hope do we have for the future? What can we do to usher in another golden age that shines brighter than the days of Mokhtar Dahari and colleagues? Gobble up fat burner pills first? Why is our second most popular sport, badminton doing better?