Dribble into basketball, Saifuddin urges companies

It was the signing ceremony involving the Malaysia Basketball Association (MABA) and health screening centre MJ Health.

The man in the middle of the event was Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

So what was the Communications and Multimedia Minister doing at a sports event – a sight that would go against the eyes of the traditionalists who would have expected the Youth and Sports Minister instead?

“I love basketball. I even played the sport during my university days and I’ve known the (then) Malaysia Basketball Association (MABA) secretary-general (Datuk Yeoh Choo Hock) since 1993. That’s how far back I’ve been involved in the sport,” said Saifuddin while looking at Yeoh who was seated among the crowd in the front few rows at the Datuk Ho Koh Chye Hall at the refurbished Olympic Malaysia Hotel in Kuala Lumpur this morning.

Yeoh later served FIBA Asia as its secretary-general and is now its secretary-general emeritus.

“I’m here because I’m passionate about the sport and I know the players and the people in the sport and will support the sport in any possible way.”

Saifuddin, who turns 60 on Jan 27, said earlier that basketball had a rich history in Malaysia and its leagues, regardless of levels, had evolved.

“But I also admit more needs to be done to encourage more people to play the sport.

“MABA has also been working on a shoestring budget but the sport has earned gold medals at the Southeast Asian level (SEA Games). I hope to see more corporations come forward and assist in the development of basketball in the country,” added Saifuddin who still plays the sport.

At the event, MJ Health pledged RM1.5 million to MABA. The deal includes being the title sponsor for the annual Agong’s Cup for three years (RM300,000 each year) while the rest of the money is for the health screening of the national cagers and the MABA exco.

MJ Health’s executive chairman Mike Tee Swee Guan said the Covid-19 pandemic and poor economy which is projected to continue into next year did not stop his establishment from investing in basketball. He viewed it as a “good opportunity” to position MJ Health.

“In fact, we have found that people are more health conscious now and are willing to spend on health. We believe we have come in at a right time to promote our brand and hope to establish ourselves even better in the next three years,” Tee added.

“The health industry is growing. We are seeing this in Taiwan and Japan and we will see the industry grow further here too.”

Newly appointed MABA president Datuk Tan Kang Yong was elated with the sponsorship agreement.

Asked why the MABA executive council members should enjoy the health screening package when it could be offered to the national junior or back-up players, Tan said: “I hope MJ Health would sponsor us more so that we can include these players.”

Here’s the round-up of today’s The News Normal.

DR MAHATHIR DETHRONED AS KINGMAKER

The sun is slowly setting on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s political career as he no longer has the clout to be kingmaker, says an analyst.

According to Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Assoc Prof Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk, the former prime minister’s relevance is slowly diminishing unlike his position during the 14th general election.

“Dr Mahathir’s ultimate success as far as his political strategy is concerned will be on Aug 29 (Slim by-election). If his choice of candidate (Amir Khusyairi Mohamad Tanusi) loses, it will be a slap to Dr Mahathir’s ego,” said Azeem.

MACC URGED TO PROBE DIRECT NEGO DEALS

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has been urged to investigate claims that 101 projects worth RM6.61 billion were awarded through direct negotiations under the Pakatan Harapan administration after the matter was disclosed by Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Aziz in Parliament yesterday.

Parti Cinta Malaysia vice-president R. Muralitharan, who lodged a report with the MACC, said the commission should also investigate alleged misconduct and abuse of power by former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng as the direct-negotiation projects were awarded by the Finance Ministry.

Lim, meanwhile, today challenged Tengku Zafrul to make public the list of projects awarded through direct negotiations, including the names of companies involved, but not just by Pakatan Harapan but also Barisan Nasional and Perikatan Nasional.

SMALL BUSINESSES HURT BY TOBACCO BLACK MARKET

Excise reforms and dedicated enforcement are critical in stamping out the proliferation of illegal cigarettes in Malaysia said the Federation of Sundry Goods Merchants Associations of Malaysia (FSGMAM) in a statement today.

Representing some 4,000 members with an estimated 10,000 sundry shops nationwide, the association’s president Hong Chee Meng said: “Illegal cigarettes make up the bulk of the market in Malaysia, where six out of 10 cigarettes sold today are smuggled or black market products.”

“Naturally, small businesses like sundry goods merchants, neighbourhood mom-and-pop stores and small traders are impacted by the tobacco black market,” Hong added.

FSGMAM urges the government to take immediate and comprehensive action to stop this problem.

“Excise reforms together with stricter enforcement are needed to stop the tobacco black market and to protect legitimate businesses against criminal enterprises,” Hong added.

FOUNDATION PLEDGES MORE MONEY TO SUPPORT THOSE INVOLVED IN COVID-19 AID

The Vinod Sekhar Foundation announced that it pledges an additional RM200,000 to support the good work of several individuals who helped the needy during the Movement Control Order (MCO) that began on March 18.

Petra Group chairman and CEO Datuk Vinod Sekhar said: “At the time when the majority of Malaysia sheltered at home, these individuals risked their lives and

went out to help those who were in dire straits. It is a testament to the Malaysian spirit of unity and humility. What these individuals have sacrificed, have enriched the lives of so many who were, and continue to be impacted by Covid-19.”

The foundation had already contributed more than RM100,000 to these individuals since March this year.

The seven recipients are Sheila Phillip (For Goodness Cakes), Subhasree Vairamuthu, Soh Sook Hwa, Vinodt Apparao (Pusat Jagaan Kanak-Kanak dan Pusat Kebajikan Warga Tua Wilayah Perseketuan), Hanim Seymore (Buku Jalanan Chow Kit), Siti Rahayu Bahrin (Buku Jalanan Chow Kit) and Shankar Shanthiram, (The Fire Grill). The fresh funds will be distributed for work carried out from August to December 2020.

A MERDEKA TO REMEMBER

For the first time in Malaysia’s history, there will be no Merdeka Day parade due to Covid-19.

Twentytwo13 decided to create its very own parade in light of the new norm as a way to thank Malaysians for their sacrifices and dedication.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSLuCHWyKy8