Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hope you all have a good 2010...

Well, the hours will run out for 2009 as they did this same time in each of my past 35 years.
To say I had a good year I must say, was never an option since I ended my schooldays. In those days, even memorable victories by our school hockey or football teams, which I was part of, made them overwhelmingly good years. It was so simple back then.
Selangor beating Johor 6-1 in the Malaysia Cup final in December, made 1986 a damn good year for me, right at the end of it.
It was a year when my SRKSJ hockey team got knocked out in the first round of the Petaling District zonal competition. I was the goalkeeper and I blamed myself for the two defeats we suffered to SRK Kelana Jaya and Sri Petaling.
But a 33-year old Mohtar Dahari playing like a man possessed in what was to be his last Malaysia Cup final, inspired me. The only thing I wasn't happy about with Selangor that year was their choice of shorts. You see, that year, I remember very clearly, Selangor wore yellow jerseys with red linings along the shoulders, but with GREEN shorts!
I was 12 and all that was really important to me! Haha..
But 1986 was also my best year because of another thing. It was a Year of the Tiger. I'm a tiger. And on March 4 that year, another tiger was bestowed upon the family and has since become one of my few sources of pride - my youngest brother Anis Mirza.
Anyway, that was just to point out how really complicated life has become since then.
This moment, these days, seems more like a chore. Closing accounts is more like the feeling. Hoping this new book, new chapter or whatever we call it, turns out okay this same time next December. The best I've ever managed to come up with was, "It should have been better, if..."
That is when you come up with resolutions, targets and all that nonsense. I did. But they're not a significant part of this moment in the year anymore. They're just stuff I think I can and should do to improve my life. Or at least try to do. It all ends up being just a thought, usually. That's life.
Well, I guess you'll all be heading for those countdowns, parties and traffic jams by now. And surely knowing that 2010 will be better for all of you, as was 2009 good to you.
So, Happy New Year everybody. Have a good one.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sauber back in business... Officially.

But whether the Petronas logo will still be on the car, remains to be seen. Here's the official statement issued by the team.

BMW AG reaches agreement with Peter Sauber regarding sale of the BMW Sauber F1 Team

Munich/Hinwil. Yesterday (Thursday), BMW AG reached an agreement with Peter Sauber regarding the sale of the BMW Sauber F1 Team. The contract is subject to the condition that the team has a starting place for the 2010 Formula 1 season. Dr Klaus Draeger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG with responsibility for Development, stated this morning: “We are very happy with this solution. This fulfils the most important requirement for a successful future for the team. Our relationship with Peter Sauber has always been excellent and marked by absolute respect. We would like to express our thanks to Peter Sauber and the whole team for the excellent cooperation during the recent four years.”

Peter Sauber added: “"I am very relieved that we have found this solution. It means we can keep the Hinwil location and the majority of workplaces. I am convinced that the new team has a very good future in Formula One, whose current transformation with new framework conditions will benefit the private teams. Our staff here are highly competent and motivated, and I look forward to taking on this new challenge together with them. I would like to thank BMW for four shared years that have in the main been very successful."

This means that the sale to Qadbak Investment Ltd. that was initially planned will not be completed. A further agreement with Peter Sauber proposes personnel cuts from the current level of 388 to around 250 employees. The restructuring of the team and compliance with future framework conditions have made this essential. Notices of redundancy have therefore been issued today. BMW AG regrets the need for these personnel cutbacks and will support the restructuring. At this moment in time, due to the aforementioned restructuring of the team, it is not possible to exclude the possibility of further redundancies in the near future.

*Qadbak also owns English club Notts County.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Let it not be just about dreams

When I called Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes a couple of days ago, about his twitter feed that said Lotus F1 had signed their first driver, he said exactly what he said there and just little else.
"The dream continues," he repeated.

Well, as much as I hate to admit, I'd be telling the biggest lie of my life if I said I never dreamed of a Malaysian F1 team. I wrote as SO.

It does trigger a few dreams, but let's not make it just about dreams. For if it were only about that, then we might as well start dreaming of things as big as in the following video to happen as well. HAHAHA...

We're eagerly anticipating the announcement of the drivers though. Till then, have fun!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lotus who?

The Lotus F1 Team, all it's top honchos say, cannot be stopped now from being on the starting grid in Bahrain next March.
They say everything is in place and the car is ahead of schedule. They've even got everything from development programmes to media junkets to the factory in Norfolk lined up.
But if you're a fan, none of that apart from the car would really be of interest to you. Seriously, don't you think?
The fansites and Facebook page on Lotus F1 bare testament to the fact that the drivers, apart from the car, are on everybody's mind. Well, on the surface without all the technical BS, a team is only as good as its drivers. That's how the majority of the global audience would see it. So, who will they be?

He's Malaysian. And of the whole lot, Fairuz Fauzy is the only one thus far with more than a foot in the team. Only question is, whether he's a test driver or race driver.

Jarno Trulli (left) and Timo Glock. Trulli is the most mentioned and the 35-year old Italian is a close friend of technical director Mike Gascoyne, who has confirmed that he's had detailed discussions with the out-of-job Toyota duo. Both have been freed following Toyota's withdrawal from F1. But with equally interested Renault denying rumours of withdrawal from F1, that for 27-year old German Glock, might seem a far better option.

Toyota's third driver Kamui Kobayashi's shortlived stardom after stunning performances in Brazil and Abu Dhabi could find a second lease of life with Lotus. The 23-year old Japanese is a graduate of Toyota's driver development programme and the world's biggest car manufacturer has stated that they vow to help him and fellow F1 reject Kazuki Nakajima (Williams) find a seat for 2010. Kobayashi himself admits eyeing Lotus as his main target HERE.

The star of A1GP Neel Jani has openly admitted to having discussions with Lotus over a possible seat next season, but Gascoyne denies that he's had discussions with the 26-year old personally. Jani says his discussions were with another top person and Gascoyne did admit that the Red Bull driver development programme trainee is the type of driver they will be looking at.

Karun Chandok is a familiar face in Malaysia, having raced here with Meritus. He's also a familiar voice on Star Sports as commentator. The Indian was named by Alex Yoong, alongside Trulli, as his predicted Lotus driver for 2010. Several little birds told me that Karun himself is pretty much angling for a drive with Lotus. Why not?

Gascoyne has mentioned the need for experienced drivers at the helm in the team's first year. And among those available that fit the bill is Anthony Davidson. His career came to a halt with the demise of Super Aguri last year, and he's been mentioned by a few on the ground, more because he's British and would be good for attracting some sponsorship funds from F1's big boss country. Experienced yes, but one remark I'd have to note about his F1 career is the lack of points.

Well, word has it that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, as he did with the announcement of Lotus F1 getting a slot as the 13th team on next year's grid, will be given the honour of announcing the driver line-up at the end of the month as well.

My choice? OF course Fairuz. Glock to lead and if he's snapped up by Renault, only then Trulli. But Jani and Kobayashi would be good too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When fans are forced to take a backseat

I went through the agony of watching in embarassment from the National Stadium stands in 2001, when right after Manchester United thrashed Malaysia 6-0 and the referee blew the final whistle, a mob of Malaysian players fought off each other in pursuit of David Beckham for his jersey.
I remember very clearly how ex-colleague Sheridan Mahavera and myself were left dumbfounded by the players' antics. It was as if they'd just went on the pitch to buy time for 90 minutes before going for what they really wanted.
I would have never imagined something similar happening within the super safe confines of the Sepang Circuit. But eight years on, it did. Right after the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
I was cursing the marshalls who just lost themselves, their professionalism, everything that came with those orange outfits they wore during arguably what was otherwise the most successful ever edition of the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix hosted by Sepang.
A number of photographers had briefed us of what exactly transpired and it was quite an embarassment on the part of us all as hosts.
The photographers had gathered along with members of Rossi's official fans club, most of whom had flown in from Italy in anticipation of his ninth world title victory celebrations. And Rossi gave them what they came for.
As usual, there'd be Rossi's signature trackside ritual with his fans on his victory lap. This time the fan club came in t-shirts with the number nine emblazoned on their sleeves. They also brought a hen, along with a mock egg with the number nine on it, to symbolise his number of world titles and the saying that an old hen doesn't lay eggs and it's only good to be eaten.
So, the photographers made a deal with the fan club, to follow them and snap away as they performed the rituals. Prior to Rossi's arrival on the scene, the marshals, medics and service crew personnel stood guard, still like professionals, not allowing anyone onto the track.
But then, when Rossi finally arrived.....

Well, now we know why the marshals stood guard and protected Rossi's fan club and photographers, who were there to do their job, from any untoward incident. It was obviously because they wanted Rossi for themselves first.

Sepang International Circuit did a fantastic job of selling the race this time around. This scene was aired live on television throughout the world. And we can't blame SIC for this incident because it was beyond their control.

But the whole world saw how we had jakuns for marshals.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Equaliser


Stumbled upon this banner along the roadside near Kelab Golf Negara Subang tonight.
Following the mass poster wars between Ah Longs or money lenders (both licenced and unlicenced), that have coloured lamp posts, sidewalks, bus stops, pillars and public toilets around the country, this comes as a breath of fresh air.
Now, you not only have a chance to get those fast loans whenever you require, you can also depend on these yet-to-be-nicknamed entities who provide recovery services for your convenience. This is an equaliser.
Imagine the possibilities and opportunities this brings to all of you. Not only will this be an industry that lives off Ah Longs, who will generate the demand for freelance debt collection services, this will provide a sense of stability within the Ah Long industry.
Ah Longs themselves will no longer have to be the tough, armed-and-dangerous characters they've always been presumed to be.
With this kind of service just a phone call away, all those makciks with extra cash and the will to invest in the fast loan business can now sleep with a little peace of mind knowing that there's someone who can take care of unscrupulous borrowers.
If Air Asia can thrive, so can this. Soon we can probably do anything we want!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Do you think Chile is a fluke?

Chile, barring the inexplicable, will beat Venezuela at the Estadio Monumental in Santiago this Sunday (Sept 5) and book their place in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. They are a surprise second in the 10-nation standings behind Brazil by a mere point.
Even if they do not beat Venezuela, a draw between Colombia and Ecuador would ensure that the Chileans confirm at least a play-off spot as the fourth placed team. But my bet is on them to finish second and qualify automatically.
This is no joke. The reasons?

Here you go. Two of the most exciting young players in the world at this moment, at least in my books.

Matias Fernandez, to those on my Facebook, would know that prior to the start of the new season, was top of my wish list to be bought by Sir Alex Ferguson. It didn't happen. He moved from Villareal to Sporting Lisbon after falling out with their new coach. Hints are the 23-year old has an attitude, but wasn't it the case with Diego Maradona, George Best, heck all the great players. Just look at what he can do. For the record, El Matigol was South American Player of the Year in 2006, at 20-years old.

Then comes a 20-year old Alexis Sanchez, a first 11 player under current coach Marcelo Bielsa. He's been dubbed "El Nino Maravilla" or Wonder Boy by Chilean fans. Owned by Udinese, Sanchez plays the current season in Argentina on loan to River Plate. He's been compared to Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Kun Aguero. He might be better. Just look at him.

I say the potential stars of the 2010 World Cup won't be from Brazil, Argentina, Holland, England or Germany. My eyes will be on Chile.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Malaysia

Probably others have other ideas about how significant August 31 would or should be to their lives.
Because probably some politician/s pissed them off or things didn't go so right for them in this country, although they never hesitate to call it their own. Others march and run riot in protest of what seems a never-ending disagreement with the system, it's makers and guardians.
On the outside, they label this land corrupt, a haven for terrorists and all that crap, they find so many things wrong with everything and everybody in this country. And some never are happy with what is available. Some others just believe they deserve more and more and more than what they are getting and this fuels their disagreement with everything.
I must say that at some points in my life I've raged, just cranked up by any of the above. But I then sit back and not just think, but decide. I decide that I cannot imagine anything other than this for myself. Put all that aside and I see that this is really my paradise, my beautiful place on earth, my everything. Just look at what we have. It is beautiful and it is great.
I've always been and will always be proud of this one thing and nobody will ever be able take it away even if they wanted to. It is me being from this country, being Malaysian. Whatever it is, people, this is ours. This is all we have.
Happy Merdeka Day Malaysia.

Gimme that Babolat!

Is it the racquet, was it a lucky shot or was it just plain Andy Roddick power?
Amazing that this could happen. Wonder if I could do that on our hard court at Balai Berita. To start with, I've at least got a Babolat, same as Roddick.... Hahahaha...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This is how you race a stage!

That picture of Indonesian Samai decked in Le Tua Cycling Team's kit runs through my mind each morning since the team delivered what was a nail-biting, heart-stopping, awe-awakening ride in Stage Four of Le Tour de Langkawi last Thursday.
Picture this. That was LTdL's longest stage at 221km from Malacca to Bangi, with two categorised climbs in succession, ending just 50km from the finish. Their Kiwi climber Jeremy Yates was first to go in an almost decisive attack that went away before the second intermediate sprint in Port Dickson, 150km from the finish. There were eight in the attack, including Amir Mustafa Rusli from the MNCF team.
Then came the two successive categorised climbs at Bukit Tangga and Genting Peres. Jeremy took them both. At the summit of Peres, the other seven thought of allowing themselves to be gobbled up by the surging peloton, but Jeremy had other ideas. He wanted the win, and pushed on solo, joined shortly by South Africa's Christoff Van Heerden. The duo pushed on through undulating and punishing terrain and looked as if the time gap was brought down by the peloton driven by the powerful Diquigiovanni team. It was 1 minute and 30 seconds. What did Le Tua do? They sent Tonton Susanto in pursuit, tagging along with Ag2r's Julien Loubet. They caught up with Jeremy and Van Heerden and Tonton's sole purpose was to help his Kiwi teammate push on for the stage win. They went all the way until two kilometres to go before they were caught.
What did Le Tua have as plan B? The remainder of the team, Razif Salleh and Ng Yong Li, with domestique Lim Yew Meng dropped after hard work of pushing back and forth from the peloton to the team car and back in the two climbs just to bring water bottles to his teammates, drove Samai to near the front.
Inside 1km to go, Samai wasn't visible from where I was standing after the finish line. Inside 200m to go, we still couldn't see him. I thought it was another Mattia Gavazzi win for sure, as the Italian battled South Africa's Nolan Hoffman and Ag2r's Aurelien Clerc.
Inside 100m to go, no sight of Samai. Near 50m to go, I saw a Le Tua jersey clearly coming up from the left side of my view, right of the bunch surging at breakneck speed. In side 20m to go, I couldn't believe my eyes. He was side-by-side with Gavazzi. 10m to go, Samai was in front. He looked left, he looked right, he jerked. Then clenched his right fists in the air. He won!! HE WON!! HE WON!!
Just imagine, this was a sprinter that was written off two years ago. His last competitive race was on the track at the World 'B' Championships in Cape Town, South Africa two years ago. He won the 1km time trial there with a sub-1:08s time, nothing great. Laters that year, he was kicked out of the Indonesian national squad, bike taken away, he had nothing.
Just six months ago, Tonton took Samai under his wing and began training him back into form. A month prior to LTdL, both Tonton and Samai moved camp to Subang, where they trained intensively under Le Tua coach Johari Nayan. Look at what he's done now. Only the fifth ever stage win by an Asian in LTdL. Better still, he did it in style, winning a bunch sprint, something never ever done before by an Asian.
In earnest, it was all down to pure planning. And Le Tua had a plan. They didn't, like the Malaysian national team and MNCF, enter this race without any idea of what they wanted to achieve. They entered the race to win. And they started the race with a plan to win.
And that plan was carefully charted out, with an all-out but realistic attack of Stage Four. And it seemed on that day, this tiny team from Subang, could have taken on the world. They swept the stage win that day, along with the polka dot jersey for Jeremy and the blue jersey for Samai, which would eventually find its eternal owner in Tonton the very next day.
For me, as an ardent follower of Malaysian cycling, that Stage Four of LTdL will go down in my memory as one of the greatest performances in one stage, by any team in the history of LTdL. Bravo Le Tua. LUAR BIASA!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

In fascination of the Dakar

In the time I spent with buddy Jacinto Vidarte, chatting along while we covered several editions of Le Tour de Langkawi together, I'd taken note of the other passion this veteran journalist turned publishing group editor-cum-communications manager for Alberto Contador, had - rally raid.
Jacinto, a true blue Spaniard now based in Cadix, had contested multiple editions of the Paris-Dakar Rally as a navigator. I thought he was crazy and remembered that this was also the undeniably most dangerous form of motorsport practiced on earth. Just check out the number of deaths in the Sahara route over the years and compare that to every other form of motorsport. The rally was moved to South America for the first time this year, starting in Buenos Aires, going across into Chile in a loop before returning to the finish in Buenos Aires again on Jan 18.
About a month ago, I received a phone call from a Malaysian woman who's running the PR show at Volkswagen Motorsport. They wanted to keep me informed of VW's activities in view of an impending entry into the motorsports scene in this region.
Been keeping an eye on the Dakar ever since. And VW finished with a sweep of podium placed, in an edition won by South African Giniel de Villiers and his German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz. They won the debut event of the off-road classic in South America ahead of their team-mates Mark Miller of the US and Ralph Pitchford of South Africa.

VW's latest release pinpointed the exact details that inspire fascination in this sport. I quote the facts and figures directly:

... the Dakar Rally was truly a resounding spectator success? Over 500,000 fans flocked just to the ceremonial start in Buenos Aires. Overall, the number of fans who accompanied the "Dakar” along the rally routes is estimated to amount to more than two million.

... the number of TV viewers tuning into the event was a success for the Dakar Rally as well? The fascinating pictures of the first South American "Dakar” were aired in 189 countries. The European sports channel "Eurosport” broadcast 48 hours of Dakar Rally coverage, reaching 33 million spectators. German TV stations aired more than ten hours of "Dakar” pictures, watched by 140 million viewers. 80 million people tuned into "Dakar” coverage just on RTL.

... the data of the engineers for Carlos Sainz revealed an average accelerator pedal position of 81 per cent? His longest stretch without "lifting”: 9.91 kilometres.

... the first victory of a diesel-powered prototype at the Dakar Rally clinched by the Race Touareg also marked Volkswagen’s tenth outright exploit in cross-country rally racing since 2004?

... 89 out of 184 possible stage victories since the Race Touareg program was launched in 2004 went to Wolfsburg?

... the highest elevation of the Dakar Rally was reached on the eleventh leg from Copiapó to Fiambalá? While crossing the San Franzisco pass, the contenders ascended to a height of 4,726 metres.

... the total time set by Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz at the "Dakar” – 48h10m57s – could have even been a few seconds better? On the tenth special stage, a loop around the Chilenean desert town of Copiapó, an armadillo crossed their path. More than likely, the mammal was more shocked about the encounter than the two subsequent "Dakar” winners.

... the competitive balance in the Volkswagen factory was particularly high in 2009? 24 out of 39 possible top-three positions on the individual stages were scored by Volkswagen. On average, 4m27.30s separated the best and the second-best contenders from Wolfsburg on the special stages. The smallest gap: 20 seconds – between de Villiers/von Zitzewitz und Miller/Pitchford on leg six.

...the average driving time of Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz on the special stages was 3h42m38s? Added to this were the liaison stages before and after the specials. For comparison: The contender who reached the finish after the longest driving time spent 11h52m43s hours in the car every day – also plus the liaison legs.

... Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz, Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford and Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk completed 4,330 timed kilometres on the 13 classified special stages? This equates to about 50 percent of the total distance of these 13 legs.

… "Dakar” winner Dirk von Zitzewitz used eight different colours to mark his roadboak and spent an average of three hours preparing it?

… Dirk von Zitzewitz and Giniel de Villiers can also communicate in German in the cockpit if necessary? Giniel de Villiers’ mother tongue is Afrikaans, which has its origins in the Dutch language. Phonetically, "left” and "right” are identical to German.

... the communication inside the cockpit between the two "Dakar” winners on one occasion was not enough to achieve the purpose? On the extremely rough and crucial twelfth leg Dirk von Zitzewitz pointed the way to his driver by running in front of the car through a field of scree – one of the keys to their triumph.

Just a fascinating note, apart from VW's nice PR build-up... Isn't it?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What a double!

Pic courtesy of Azizulhasni Awang (left)
Rizal Tisin (right)

First thing I did when I got out of bed this morning was turn on the laptop to check my emails, then went onto Facebook. Rizal Tisin just happened to be online over in Beijing as well, while Azizulhasni Awang was busy at the Laoshan Velodrome where he'd breezed past the first round.
Rizal seemed bemused. Coach John Beasley and the rest of the squad had left their hotel and were at the velodrome. "John cakap kilo pukul 8.30. Nak kena check ni," Rizal began figuring out how to get his hands on the schedule.
"Dalam website UCI ada," I told him. But he couldn't find it, so I copied and emailed it to him. "Kilo event ke 10 sesi petang," I informed. "Mcmana ni? Betul ke?"
"Ah, pukul 4.30 la aku pegi," Rizal said after doing the calculations to the schedule via indications of durations of each event from the start of the evening sessions at Laoshan at 5.20pm yesterday.
As usual, we'd talk about matters 'close to both our hearts' over the chatline, before we adjourned. "Aku memang kayuh mati-mati dalam kilo tu nanti. Aku nak medal tu," simple and straight forward was Rizal's parting shot.
As the anxiety began to grip me at the desk, refreshing over and over again the results sheet from the UCI website awaiting updates, "You got a message," went my phone. "Zizul first, Bauge second, third Mulder," read Rizal's message. The second round results hadn't come in at that time. So, I was confused. Then at one go, the whole results were updated. It read: Final 1-6: 1 Azizulhasni Awang (Mas). "Gold!! Gold!!" I shouted out aloud, as my boss Vijesh Rai scrambled to my screen. "Okay, relax. This is the backpage. Go get it on the sms updates."
"But wait, Rizal's next. Another medal's coming," I told him. The whole desk seemed excited, but I looked around this time and I could sense nobody really shared the faith I had in Rizal. Azizul is the newsmaker, everybody knows that.
Getting the updates done, a few smokes and coffees later, I returned to the screen, frantically refreshing the page over and over again, hoping the 1km time trial results would be in. At almost 8pm, sandwiched in between my SMS exchange with a few others, came Rizal's glorious line:"Aku 1st.. 1:02.268, Pervis 2nd, Kuczynski 3rd. Gold medal."
Yeah, of course:"Rizal got the gold! Rizal fuckin got the gold!" I just stopped short of shedding tears.
The string of sms messages began flowing out: "Rizal got the gold! We got TWO! We got TWO!!"
For me, Azizul's success thus far is destined. He's a special kid. Very, very special. He has been from day one. But if you followed the careers of our cyclists as closely as I did, you'd know that Rizal's was a long hard road. He charted his own destiny and not only did he have to work extra hard to first prove himself, then achieve results. He's not a born champion. Rizal Tisin is a self-made champion. He'd taken his fair share of hard knocks throughout his career.
A few months ago he was on the verge of quitting the sport. He's had a tough time. But this is a guy who'd been knocked down, got up again, rode again and gone all the way to a UCI World Cup gold medal.
Just a month ago, he'd cracked the Asian 1km record with a time of 1:02.157s, that after a three month layoff, and joining the national squad's training camp in Melbourne three weeks late, as he had to sort out issues regarding the uncertainty in his future. He solved that by getting the help of the National Sports Council and being given a shot at recruitment into the police force.
He was determined to prove himself in the keirin at first. He did so by becoming Asian champion in 2006. But failure to even qualify for the final at the Asian Games that year, took its emotional toll on Rizal, who almost gave up due to unbearable disappointment.
Then came Azizul in 2007, so Rizal was moved into the 1km time trial after some soul searching of his own. One year on, he took home the 1km time trial Asian title in Nara, Japan, where Azizul did the keirin-200m sprint double.
Klangite Rizal was ranked fifth in the world at the end of last season.
Believe me, the journey has just begun. And what a fighter this kid is.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Being in the middle is a tough game

Tried my best to understand what the problems were in the game over the years. In fact, I tried so hard that the only sense it all made was for me to stop trying to understand and move over.
But there's a certain pull. I've never been married but I guess that is probably how I'd describe it if I were. Probably the reason why you return to your wife. Or even the sort of feeling I have for my kid brother, the type when even after some fierce fights, the scent of his hair feels better than any perfume on earth when we hug and make up.
We try going away, but keep coming back for more. Even despite the chill of knowledge that the smiles, the welcoming arms, the urging, the encouragement aren't always what they seem.
You drill into your mind that doing your job is all you want.
The mess is so huge that it isn't just a cold war between two 'nations', the divide can be split into three, four, five warring factions, while on the sidelines the 'kompang teams' offer their version of who is right in all matters.
You then watch as six karters, four of whom are foreigners, form a grid for a cadet class race. You just barely come up with the heart to write a story about an 18-car line-up for a national rally round, with just four of those in with a real shot at the overall title.
You find time to be humbled by the devotion of that bunch of hardcore privateers lining up cars that would have been fit for the scrapyard before they put heart and soul into its transformation into a race car. You begin to think about what they're doing it for.
You read as your country's resources get pumped into foreign dreams without even one of the characters in the scripts you wrote along the years going along for the ride. You are left in utter disgust when your compatriots who dare to dream are left to fend for themselves without resources. And you then find that no question can be asked.
You listen to your long-time friend who ended his glorious years as the greatest ever Malaysian motorcycle racer and ache at his story of a struggle to keep a programme going. But then you find busloads of kampung boys coming to town, sharing a common dream of one day being just like that friend of yours.
You listen because it is your job to listen. And you watch because, cruel as the world may seem, this is your part in it all. You then form an opinion because you're bloody paid to do so. And your opinion triggers the crossfire that comes next.
And in doing all that you find reason. You find it all down to love. It is the reason for carrying on because you will love few the same way. And you soldier on into the crossfire, over and over again, still trying to make sense of all hell caused by love.
It is a tough life. But you're just the writer.

P.s.: Thus, I welcome all to the Motorsports Networking Night at the National Press Club for a night with the media on Wednesday, Jan 21. And I love you all.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The world is short of one great joker

Pic courtesy of Rizal Hashim

I'll never forget those times when I would be teased and tormented by Johari Syawal to the point where I'd lift him up and threaten him with a powerslam if he didn't apologise. The featherweight Jo would be laughing all the way, crying out:"Eh! Apa ni? Kau jangan nak rogol aku pulak!" Of course I would never have the heart to hurt this little clown. But the jokes, both verbal and practical, were never-ending.
Life was never too serious with Jo. Stories were always animated. If you took Jo too seriously, you'd believe he'd have no problem making the Brazilian national football team, beating Taufik Hidayat in the Olympic final, lapping Michael Schumacher around Sepang Circuit, even replacing Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as Prime Minister, and doing it on the golf course where he'd be capable of embarassing the likes of Tiger Woods. He would give you a graphic explanation about how it should be done, complete with hand, body and leg gestures.
He wasn't around the past two years in the sports scene as he'd served his final years as the Utusan Malaysia bureau chief in Kangar.
I never thought much of all those time we gathered and chatted near the front row of the Sepang Circuit media centre at all the races. Not much until an sms from Rizal Hashim, which was to stun me out of bed this morning, informed that those were the last incidents of Johari Syawal poking fun at me.
He passed away aged 40 in Muar this morning due to lung complications. I'm sure we'll all miss this Malaysian original. He was one great joker who brought about laughter just by being there.
Rest in peace Johari Syawal. Al-fatihah.