Will new Akademi Badminton Malaysia CEO be an ex-international?

The BA of Malaysia (BAM) has accepted the resignation of Michelle Chai as Akademi Badminton Malaysia (ABM) chief executive officer, after barely six months in office.

She and two others – BA of Malaysia deputy president Datuk V. Subramaniam, and general-secretary Datuk Kenny Goh – have been tasked to look for a new chief within the next three months.

ABM could most likely be headed by a former international, or a renowned coach, judging by the tone at the press conference held at ABM in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, this afternoon.

Chai tendered her resignation on May 9, hours after facing the press, following the national women’s team’s shocking defeat to the Philippines in the on-going SEA Games. She was joined at the press conference by ABM’s high-performance director, Dr Timothy John Jones, national singles coaching director, Wong Choong Hann, and national doubles coaching director, Rexy Mainaky.

Following the press conference where Chai took full responsibility and accountability over the loss to the Philippines, Jones was relieved of his duties with immediate effect. However, there’s been no word on Wong and Rexy.

“After discussing, we agreed to accept Chai’s resignation. She will help us in our search for a new CEO,” said BAM president, Tan Sri Norza Zakaria.

“On Nov 26, 2022, a decision was made by the BAM Council for the ABM to be administered professionally. Chai was appointed CEO, and so was Dr Timothy. It (ABM) is independently run by professionals. As far as Chai is concerned, what happened at the SEA Games (the defeat to the Philippines) was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Norza added that Chai had given the national body her assessment of the problem. It was evident that there were flaws and deficiencies that needed to be rectified.

“She admitted that the shoe is too big for her to fill. With the challenges and the competitive environment… dealing with legendary coaches… perhaps we need to look at someone who can communicate better with these coaches,” he added.

“There’s an elephant in the room … the women’s singles and men’s singles players. Where are they?

“ABM must be led by a person with calibre, (of) world-class (stature),” Norza added.

Chai is also part of the Road To Gold (RTG) programme, yet another ambitious elite programme by the Malaysian government to secure the nation’s first-ever gold medal at the Olympics. Norza said he would speak to the Youth and Sports minister to retain her in that programme.

Chai was among those from the RTG programme who had visited Japan recently to learn more about sports administration there. For the record, Twentytwo13 has yet to receive a reply on how much the ministry had spent on the trip.

Chai, meanwhile, stressed that there was no pressure from anyone for her to resign.

“The issue here today is not about me, it’s about the organisation and badminton in Malaysia. Badminton isn’t a sport like any other. We should be successful.

“I truly feel that the opportunity should be given to a better-qualified individual, who is able to interact better with the coaches and players,” she added.