The Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) was in the news the last few weeks because of its annual general meeting on May 26.
Since the biennial elections of office bearers were also held, there were accusations of wrong-doings and abuse of power by both sides.
Over the past two decades, ASUM has been secretive and little information has been shared with their athletes and officials, especially those who were suspected to be against the ruling group.
The reason the elected office bearers could control ASUM so effectively was that they had the support of a small majority of the states association.
The 2019 AGM was different because there was a real and concerted attempt to remove some of the long-serving office bearers, who have not contributed much, if anything, to the development of the sport.
Below are the eight things I learnt from the AGM:
1. ASUM has 13 state affiliates. However, Pahang has been suspended due to non-compliance of the Sports Development Act.
UPDATE (June 17, 2019; 10.13pm) – Editor’s note: It has been brought to the writer’s attention that the Perlis Swimming Association has not been suspended as stated earlier. The article has been amended accordingly and the writer extends his sincere apology to the association.
2. As expected, the results of the election saw the incumbents winning seven out of the nine contested seats with Melaka winning three posts, Kuala Lumpur two posts and Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Perlis, and Sarawak each winning one.
Of the six state associations which won the nine posts in the executive committee, only Kuala Lumpur has a reasonably strong aquatics team.
Melaka with three executive committee members does not deserve to have a third of the posts considering the lack of aquatics development.
Selangor, which has the strongest aquatics team in the country and Penang with over a century of developing aquatics, do not have a single representative.
With such lopped-sided representation, and a president who has held the post for 24 years, from a non-performing state, how can we expect aquatics to progress?
3. The elections were conducted without a neutral returning officer. There were no pre-nomination of candidates as nominations were received from the floor.
Voting was supposed to be by a show of hands, but after long arguments, and a vote by a show of hands, the meeting decided to have a secret ballot.
4. With ASUM having 13 state members, and more than half of them have no activities, it is quite simple to win seven states and control ASUM.
The performing states will be sidelined and victimised by the non-performing states, leading to the death of the sport.
5. Of the nine elected executive committee members, only one is a former national athlete.
Why are outstanding and qualified retired swimmers, divers and water polo players not given the opportunity to contribute to the development of their own sports?
6. The accounts were approved without any discussion. There is an entry of a receipt of RM2 million. Unfortunately, the meeting was not informed how the RM2 million were obtained.
Could it be another case of the recipient not knowing how and from whom, such a large sum of money was deposited into ASUM’s account?
The story sounds familiar.
7. There was at least one case of a delegate who stood as a candidate of another state after not being appointed a delegate of his state of origin.
There were allegations of more voting delegates not residing or members of the states they were representing.
8. At the end of the meeting, the ASUM president handed out allowances of different values to the delegates and members of the media.
No one knew whether the allowances were paid from ASUM’s account or from the president’s personal account.