Peter Velappan

‘No amount of wealth can be a substitute for good friends’

“I have learned throughout my 50 years of working life that there is no substitute in life for good, trustworthy friends. No amount of wealth can be a substitute for good friends. It will be friends who will bid you farewell when it is time to depart from this world.”

That was an excerpt from the book ‘Beyond Dreams: The Fascinating Story of the Blessed Life of Peter Velappan s/o Palaniappan’.

Datuk Peter Velappan’s book was published in 2013. It gives an insight on his childhood, Malaysian football, his stint as Asian Football Confederation (AFC) general secretary and his philosophy in life.

Tributes poured in after news broke out that the veteran administrator had died of a heart attack on Friday morning at a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur. He was 83.

AFC president Shaikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa, general secretary Datuk Windsor Paul, FA of Malaysia president Datuk Hamidin Amin and senior football journalists had only beautiful words for the man who served football for most of his life.

In fact, no space will ever be enough for the man who has contributed a lot to the sport.

Sadly, and in typical fashion, it takes death to realise a person’s importance in this world.

Peter was born on Oct 1, 1935 at a rubber plantation in Siliau, Negeri Sembilan.

The former teacher, who earned his BA in Education at McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 1970, was appointed deputy director of sports in the Youth, Culture and Sports Ministry in 1972. He left in 1975 to join Lever Brothers as human resources manager.

He was always keen about football and in 1963, Peter was appointed FAM assistant secretary where he served then president and the nation’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj.

Peter was named AFC general secretary in 1978 and went on to serve three presidents – Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah (1978-1994), Sultan Ahmad Shah (1995-2002) and Mohamed Hamman (2002-2007) over a span of 30 years.

At FIFA, he sat on various committees and was made director of the 1982 World Cup and coordination director of the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup. He retired in 2008 but was still sought after by the media for his take on football matters.

Peter was also a fan of the Special Olympics but more importantly, he was proud to call himself a Malaysian.

He had asked pertinent questions in the past – like why the Education Ministry had neglected Physical Education and sports in schools in recent years and why we were not motivating our younger generation with proper education?

His philosophy in life: work hard, integrity, fair play, adopting a positive attitude and self-discipline. Those traits made him a true gem.

Just as the excerpt from his book written at the beginning of this article, Peter cherished his friends.

And while we say a difficult goodbye to this great man, let’s not forget to cherish friends who remain by our side. Say those nice words today instead of saving it for a Facebook posting when they are gone.

As Peter rightfully wrote:

“No amount of wealth can be a substitute for good friends”.

We at Twentytwo13 express our sincere condolences to Peter’s wife Pauline, their daughters Sheela and Shyamala, and their extended family members.

The wake is at his residence at No. 6, Jalan SS1/9, Kampung Tunku, 47300, Petaling Jaya. The funeral rites will be at noon tomorrow followed by cremation at the Kampung Tunku Crematorium at 2.30pm.