Myth or fact? You decide
By R. Nadeswaran
They talked about a High Performance Training Centre in Brickendonbury where the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre stands. They talked …
* about renovating “existing” hostels and facilities;
* about training with Arsenal;
* about “rave reviews” from squash players who used it before competing in Cologne and Amsterdam;
* about “total immersion” with our players getting involved with the local people and inculcate their work ethics and culture. Well done!
They talked and still talk about needing to protect the environment. They talk about global warming. Yet after destroying local forests, they have no qualms of destroying another country’s heritage.
* about submitting four different sets of plans to the Hertford Council on June 14; and
* about “plans being on track”.
Yes, even the Football Association of Malaysia, the much-maligned guardians of the country’s football fortunes boasted on its website: “The Malaysian national under-16 team is settling well at the High Performance Training centre in Brickendonbury.”
Settling well? Someone ought to give those guys at Wisma FAM a Pelanduk dictionary. Perhaps, then they will understand the meaning of “settling well”.
But then, when you are caught with your pants down, the ordinary guy would put his hands up, own up, say sorry and perhaps, in all humility, seek forgiveness.
Malaysian culture dictates that. But that’s not the political culture, let alone sports culture. The best is to be on “denial” mode – just insist the waters on our seas are red in colour. Then over time, people will start believing that their eyes are playing tricks with their brains. But many no longer fall for the old tricks.
So, drop gear and engage in “silent” mode. Let them shout till their throats are hoarse or their fingers numbed by cracking them on the keyboards. Over time, they will get fed up and give up.
No, my friends. Never. When you want to spend RM70 million to “upgrade” or “renovate” non-existent facilities, every right-minded citizen will stand up and demand that every sen is accounted for. After all, wasn’t that the platform our prime minister campaigned on, for which we all gave him a thunderous majority?
No, my friends. When half-truths and misinformation are fed to justify such colossal spending, they should be exposed.
Aren’t all members of the cabinet and the civil service guided by those very principles of good governance where transparency and accountability supersede everything else?
Have they forgotten the slogans they campaigned on and got elected to office? What about the civil servants and their akujanji and oath of office which require exemplary practices?
No, my friends, they are all are aware of their commitments, but sometimes they suffer from selective amnesia.
Yes, my friends, if they are not constantly reminded of what is expected of them, they sometimes tend to slip into permanent memory loss. And that’s why, time and again, they ought to be reminded of their social and moral responsibilities.
Elsewhere on this page, we put the facts on the table so that you, first as a citizen , and second as a reader of this newspaper, can differentiate between myth and fact.
You, dear citizen and reader, be the judge.
Exposing the truth … Nadeswaran visited the TARRC for a first-hand look at the facilities of the “HPTC”. But he was sorely disappointed by what he saw. The football pitch at the TARRC.
On a current note, the national junior squash team, who were the “pilot” team to use the facilities in Hertfordshire when they competed in Cologne and Amsterdam, have sent back initial raving reports of the facilities and competition that were available around the HPTC (in Brickendonbury), which proved very useful as run-up to the actual competitions. – Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz, the (then) director-general of the National Sports Council, at a “tell-all” press conference, July 14, 2006.
Pilot team using the facilities in Hertfordshire? Hertfordshire is a county and there are plenty of big towns with facilities. But where did the squash players stay? It’s like saying there are several training facilities in Johor. But if you stay in Masai and travel to Johor Baru to train, it makes little sense.
There’s no place to stay in Brickendonbury, let alone the HPTC. They must have stayed in a hotel either in Ware or Hertford or even St Albans. Where did they train? They trained at one of the many private-run courts many, many kilometres away from the HPTC and paid for these facilities in pounds sterling. Around HPTC, you have nothing but farms with horses and sheep. The nearest towns, Hertford and Ware, are more than 10km away.
So, if you are competing in Cologne, wouldn’t it be prudent to stay in that city, close by to where the competition is being staged? What purpose did the HPTC serve? The players might as well have stayed and trained in London instead of heading to Brickendonbury.
If cost is a factor, they could have used St Albans as a base. Unlike Brickendonbury, it has more facilities and better accessibility.
Players can also walk from their hotel to the sports complex.
A total of 22 players will be the first to leave for England tomorrow as the batch of Under-16-year-olds head to the High Performance Training Centre in Brickendonbury. Robert Alberts, the technical director for the FA of Malaysia (FAM) said that the first group will not only train in London but will also play several friendly matches for the stint slated for 6-31 May. – Football Association of Malaysia website, May 5, 2007
Head to HPTC? For what? Other than an under-sized football pitch and a few changing rooms, there’s nothing there. The truth is that the players and officials initially stayed at the Roebuck Hotel in Ware. They travelled to Brickendonbury once a day and trained for two hours in that small field. Other than that, they were holed up in their rooms and attended “theory” classes in the hotel. In between, there were “academic” sessions for the players. Now, coming to the bit of Arsenal. They left Roebuck Hotel on May 10 and checked into the Malaysian-owned Holiday Villa Hotel in London and then on to the Arsenal training ground. The following day, they played a match against Arsenal’s Under-16 team, which they lost 5-0. The “match” was of three “halves” of 30 minutes each. And that was the end of the Arsenal stint!
The HPTC had been initially billed as a place where Malaysian athletes can “immerse” with the locals. But this was never the case. If the players are spending only two hours daily at the HPTC, why send them there at all?
Wouldn’t they have been better off at their hostels in the Bukit Jalil Sports School?
Any claim that the HPTC is “close to” or “trained with” Arsenal is not true. From London, the boys flew to Slovakia for two games there, and then returned to their hotels in Ware. In total, the boys spent no more than 100 hours on the training grounds.
Now here comes the cruncher. During May, the British Meteorological Office reported that temperatures in the day dipped to as low as 13¼C. Did our boys cope with that kind of cold? Probably – with layers of warm clothes.
This is not mere speculation, considering that these are teenagers who hardly ever got out of Bukit Jalil at night.
Malaysia’s proposed High Performance Training Centre to be located at the Tun Abdul Razak Rubber Research Centre (TARRC) in Brickendonbury, Hertfordshire, England, is expected to take off by early next year.According to National Sports Institute director general Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz, a presentation of the proposed plan for the HPTC would be made to the East Hertford Council on June 14.“We have had a number of meetings with the relevant authorities from East Hertford Council and the Malaysian Rubber Board on what can be done and what cannot be done, and we have finalised four options to be put forward.” – Bernama, June 2No plans were submitted to the council. The council’s media officer, Nick White, in an e-mail on June 19 said: “Representatives of the Malaysian government and their planning team met with officers at East Herts Council last week. They set out their thoughts on how the facility could be used for training of their athletes in the run-up to the Olympics in 2012. No formal application has yet been submitted to the council, and the meeting represented an early discussion on the issues that this sort of proposal may raise.As the proposals are still in the early stages and no planning application has been submitted, I’m afraid the information I can give you is limited.”
So, where are the “four different plans” Ramlan talked about.
The project from a forward training base in Europe moved to High Performance Training Centre. Now, the impression given to the council is that it will be Malaysia’s preparatory centre for the Olympics.
If that’s the case, we might as well save time, money and effort, and take up the University of Hertfordshire’s offer for our athletes to use its facilities.
The bulk of the money has been paid to St. Albans-based architect and town planner, David Lane Associates which has sent two invoices – one for RM350,000 and another for RM450,000 – for “work done” to apparently transform part of the TARRC into a mini-sports complex.
Asked to comment on this, Ramlan gave his assurance that the expenditure was within limits and had been accounted for. – theSun, Feb 27, 2007
On June 14, a Malaysian team met with the planning officers of the Hertford Council. It was then that a new team of architects entered the scene.
Nick White, in an e-mail to theSun said: “Just to update you both on the meeting that took place last week – there is now a new planning consultancy involved – White Young Green.”
So, now, we have to pay another firm of architects, but the issue is: Who hired David Lane Associates? Why another consultancy change, especially after Ramlan said that about RM800,000 has been paid in fees? How much will White Young Green cost?
Other related stories published in the Sun…