Wednesday, March 31, 2010


One of the T-shirts Lee Chong Wei wore on the road to his historical win in the recently held Yonex All England is being put to auction today, Monday March 29th, 2010 for a limited time – one week – with bidding to close on April 5th, 2010 on Solibad.

The world number one from Malaysia, who ended his country’s title drought in the prestigious event since 2003, gave away one of his winning shirts right after the final before signing it.

“It is my pleasure to give this special T-shirt to Solibad for its hard work. I wish the foundation all the best and I hope the selling of the shirt will be of some help,” said Lee Chong Wei after the final.

The T-shirt is the limited edition that only Lee Chong Wei wears and cannot be found in regular stores.

All the proceeds from the auction will be going to the newly born foundation Solibad – Badminton Without Borders, which helps local projects around the world. Some of the ongoing projects are orphanages in Kuala Lumpur, Lee Chong Wei’s home, but also in Bali, Indonesia, and a common project with “Peace & Sport” called “1000 rackets for Haiti”.

The auction starts at noon on March 29th on Ebay, and will be closing next Monday, April 5th, at 11.00 am Paris time (10 am GMT, 6 PM Kuala Lumpur time)


Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin has been, of late, pushing for involvement of sports amongst school children in the country.

A noble effort from the former Sports Minister but really since he is the Chairman of the Cabinet Committee for Sports, all he needs to take a look at in the minutes of the first Cabinet Committee on Sports, held on November 8, chaired by the current Prime Minister.
The role of schools in developing sports was discussed there and some of the areas that were agreed upon was opening up school facilities on the weekends for public use thereby allowing the public to utilize sports facilities and allowing schools to gain financially from rentals. Also discussed and agreed was to employ former national and state players to coach schools with a nominal payment.

Talking of unity via sports, perhaps the Deputy Prime Minister would want to look at the employment prospects for other races in the NSC and KBS as there seems to be a declining number since the end of the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

There has been much said about the Cabinet Committee for Sports, but until and unless something concrete is visible, it is tantamount to empty vessels making noise. And to continue with such juvenile carping is to do a great disservice to all the athletes who worked so hard to represent the nation.

The reality is that despite some occasional praiseworthy performance, the overall result for Malaysia in the international scene over the years was poor. It will continue to be poor until we provide long-term assistance for developing athletes.

At the same time we need to start getting the basics right by ensuring that sport plays a more relevant role at primary school level.

Sport in our primary schools is a joke at present. An increasing number of our school children are overweight and very few pupils receive sufficient exercise. This is a worrying trend, not only because it minimises our chances of producing top class sports performers, but also because of the future cost to our health care system.
But the Government is doing too little too late to tackle the crisis.
One of the platforms in the National Sport's Council’s High Performance Strategy is to develop pathways for delivering high-level performances. They pay particular attention to the Physical Education and school sports.

And yet through Government neglect, schools are our weakest link.
The Government has failed to invest in the building blocks. It needs to start putting the structures in place right now. We need a nationwide audit of sports facilities and participation levels among all age groups and social backgrounds.

Research shows that people who take up sport at an early age are more likely to be active into adulthood. Instead, through this insane penny pinching, the Government puts an added financial strain on our healthcare system and makes Olympic success the exception rather than the rule.
There are a number of measures aimed at increasing participation in sport and improving our chances in top competition. These include:

· Long term funding for existing top athletes
· Identification and support of developing athletes at an earlier age
· Increased funding for sports equipment and in facilities for schools
· The development of a new interlinked Physical Education curriculum at  primary and secondary level
· A nationwide audit of sports facilities and participation levels
· Increase linkages between local government, schools and sports clubs to develop and share sports        facilities.

 A shared vision, a framework for opportunity and real achievement - in short, a strategy for sport - must be the goal of all those to whom sport and recreation really matter.

There has never been a strategy for sport in Malaysia. It is high time that there is a document that sets out the vision, goals and targets to which we should aspire, amongst which should include:

- raising standards – supporting schools to review and develop their PE and
  school sport programmes to enhance the quality of provision;
- strategic planning – enhancing PE and sports development through development plans;
- primary liaison – establishing and developing PE and sports programmes for primary and special schools.
- school to community – building and supporting school/club links;
- out-of-school-hours activity – developing and supporting out-of-school- hours sports programmes (including inter and intra school competitions);
- coaching and leadership – developing leadership, coaching and officiating programmes
  to help pupils gain skills to enhance their future role with the sporting community.

And until someone, somewhere realizes that this is what needs to be done, we will all be groping in thin air.

Only then Sir can we really call ourselves working towards national unity via sports.

Below is the Bernama story

Sports represents a major agenda in demolishing the racial wall and strengthening solidarity, and as such, the government is taking various measures to attract more interest in sports in schools, said Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The Deputy Prime Minister said these included efforts to streamline the management of school sports, and to increase the time allotted to sports for students to carry out sporting activities.

Muhyiddin, who is also the Education Minister, said generally the community would give their support to any athlete or team representing the country regardless of their race or religion.

"As long as the sportsman or sportswoman represents the country or any team that we like, we will certainly give our support and encouragement to him or her, and as such, sports will become a major agenda for us to demolish racial walls and strengthen solidarity," he said in his speech at the Malaysian Lawn Bowls Federation dinner, here on Tuesday night.

Earlier, Muhyiddin launched the book, "Bowls in Malaysia: Creating Legacy 1998-2009", published by the Malaysian Lawn Bowls Federation.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


India striker Sunil Chhetri has signed for Major League Soccer (MLS) club Kansas City Wizards, the club’s spokesman said yesterday.

“We hope Sunil is with the Kansas City Wizards family for many years to come,” club spokesman Greg Cotton said in a statement without giving details of the contract.

Indian media said the 25-year-old had inked a four-year deal with the team after his successful trial with them earlier this month.

“As per league and team policy, we do not discuss the terms of any player contracts,” Cotton said.

India’s top player missed an opportunity to play for English Championship (second division) club Queens Park Rangers last year after being denied a work permit by the British government.

The club said Chhetri has agreed in principal to terms with Major League Soccer, pending his P-1 visa and ITC approval.

Chhetri would be unavailable to play in Kansas City’s opener versus D.C. United at home today, the statement said.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunities I’m going to get,” Chhetri told Indian media today.

“Coming from a nation ranked number 132 in the world to one in the top 20 is a great move. I’m going to give my best in training everyday.”
Kansas City missed the playoffs last season after they finished sixth in the Eastern Conference and 13th overall in the 15-team league.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


This blog will in a matter of days reveal some news with regards to the cracks that appeared in BAM, who was the cause of it, how some people who failed to benefit from it and above all touch on the unseen hands behind the attempt to wrest power within the national body. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Below is an article lifted from Malaysian Insider. Fun reading and of course these suggestions will never see the light of day, but still an interesting read to say the least.

As season openers go, Bahrain GP turned out to be the biggest yawn in recent F1 memory.[1]

A snoozefest in the baking hot Arabian desert, it was so spectacularly boring that even the camels performed synchronised spitting in protest.

On my part, I managed to grow a beard, knit a sweater and negotiated a cease-fire in the Middle East while watching the race.[2]

F1 is in danger becoming mind-numbingly pedestrian affair this season, rather than the pinnacle of motorsports that it is.

But that is for Bernie Ecclestone to figure out with a little help from his friends. My focus and main concern is the pace — or rather, the lack of it — of our very own Malaysian team, Lotus F1 Racing.

The team qualified five seconds off the pace and the race wasn’t much better, although the team insisted that they were happy to have reached their target as Kovalainen and Trulli finished the race in 15th and 17th positions respectively.[3]

Not exactly something to write home about but rather bizzarely, it was enough to prompt a celebration, and the team popped the bubbly in Sakhir.

I hate to spoil all the warm and fuzzy feeling but before we go all cigar-and-confetti, it should be noted that this is F1 and completing a race is the minimum expected from competing teams.

As Lord Browne of Madingley [4] famously observed,[5] there is a huge difference between blind optimism and denial, and positive PR spin cannot obscure the yawning chasm between Lotus and the front-runners.[6]

I admit that I am not particularly enamoured or impressed by the Lotus F1 venture. Having said that, I’d like to think that I am as patriotic as the next person, so I suppose I should help by coming up with some ideas which can help Lotus F1 team to boost its chances.

I have come up with a cunning plan to improve Lotus F1 performance and spare everyone from further embarrassment.

In fact, the strategies that I am going to outline below will allow the new incarnation of Team Lotus — which is a private venture and not using taxpayers’ money — will score its maiden victory at Sepang Circuit on April 4th, 2010.

This should give Lotus F1 — which is a private venture and not using taxpayers’ money — some semblance of respectability and silence the critics.

My humble suggestions are as follows:

Road blocks
Setting up road blocks is a skill that our authorities have perfected on Malaysian roads not only during festive seasons and musim-musim perayaan (Ops Sikap et al), but also during normal peak hours. If we can put this obstacle in place at Sepang Circuit, then it will be a more effective way to slow down the cars than, say, building more chicanes. This will allow Lotus Racing to catch up and — dare I say it — overtake the rest of the grid. First win of the season, here we come, baby!

Pot holes
Mr Ecclestone did mention last season that our Sepang facility looked a bit tired and shabby. Although we have the budget to spruce up the track,[7] don’t spend the money just yet and don’t fix the potholes.[8] Once the race starts, bring out our JKR guys and this should trigger a Safety Car [9] situation. Behind the pace car, everyone will travel at more or less the same pace, so we won’t be 5-6 seconds off the pace anymore. Problem solved.

We can install temporary toll booths at the entry and exit of the pit lane. Teams will be asked to pay cash and you can imagine the stunning spectacle of Fernando Alonso fumbling over foreign coins to pay the right amount of toll charges, and cars queuing for their turn. For Lotus, of course we will equip the car with a state-of-the-art technology called “Smart TAG.” I know it doesn’t always work [10] but it is certainly faster. This should allow Lotus to gain a few precious seconds against its rivals.

The benefit of this intervention is limited because of the no- refuelling rule and most teams will probably make only one pit stop to change their tyres during the whole race. Therefore, we should consider introducing mandatory toll charges every 10 or 15 laps.

Strategic placements of sign boards
If you are driving at Sepang Circuit, you will see two types of signboards along the 5.543km track viz. (a) the advertisement by sponsors, and (b) the 200-100-50 signages which indicate the distance to the next turn and, by extension, your braking point.[11] I would suggest that we replace these signboards with the confusing ones we normally have on our roads in Klang Valley. For instance, we know that if we were to follow a signboard that says ‘Damansara’, we either promptly end up in Hulu Langat or arrive in Damansara three days later.

We should install something similar at Sepang Circuit to confuse the drivers and they will probably end up in Dengkil or Senawang instead of finishing the race. Alternatively, we can also replace the advertising boards with photos of grinning politicians wishing the rakyat Selamat Hari Raya/Gong Xi Fa Cai/Happy Deepavali.

Teams to use different fuels
We should insist on using RON97 for Lotus F1 and RON95 for the rest of the grid. If we believe half of the things that the self-proclaimed motorheads in Malaysia are saying about how RON97’s extra oomph and vroom, then Lotus F1 has a good chance of outpacing its rivals.

And just to spite everyone, RON97 will be available to Lotus F1 at the current subsidised rate of RM 2.05 while the subsidy elements in RON95 pricing will be removed completely. Now, THAT will hurt them financially.

Compulsory road tax for F1 cars
The teams must now apply for a special road tax, and we must make them believe that it’s easy to apply for one. All they have to do is go online, click a few icons, and Nor Fazura will miraculously appear infront of them, bearing the proper documentations. In reality, we will of course frustrate them by making them work through the bureaucracy juggernaught.

Imagine having team representatives ambil nombor and queueing, while the officers in charge disappear for their 3rd mid-morning teh tarik and return hours later to inform everyone that ‘fail hilang’. One more distraction for the teams [12] and I can already imagine Luca di Montezemolo [13] fuming over this matter.

Change the food in the paddock
Say goodbye to pasta and all the healthy options, and say hello to nasi lemak, nasi kandar, mee goreng mamak, chee chong fun and ewe char koay. And of course, the invigorating and all-pervasive teh tarik. It will upset the diet of their drivers and they will not be able to perform at their optimum level.

Expect some comic moments as the likes of Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton dashing for the toilets just before the race, no thanks to nasi kerabu with budu. That would make for excellent TV – a perfect antidote the somewhat boring race we’ve seen so far.[14] Trulli and Kovalainen on the other hand will have no such problem because they are Lotus drivers and Lotus is a Malaysian team (not British, mind). They both would have been properly conditioned by now and can withstand the rigours of nasi kandar ayam madu kuah campur and a helping (or two) of teh tarik.

Teams to travel on Air Asia
This is part of our two-pronged strategy (see also ‘Hotels’ below) to make it difficult for all teams right from the start. Seduce them with cheap Air Asia fares, which means (a) everyone can fly (b) everyone has to cope with the usual delays, and (b) everyone has to use the LCCT, which has rubbish facilities, really. The teams should also be asked to get their own taxis from LCCT to their hotels (good luck with that). A frustrating time is guaranteed for all.

To compound their misery, put the teams in hotels that are far from the circuit. Traditionally, teams stay at KLIA Pan Pacific and Putrajaya Marriott which are a short drive to Sepang Circuit. The trick is to put all the teams (except Lotus F1, which can remain in either hotel mentioned earlier) in hotels closer to KL so that the traffic jam will absolutely kill them. There are plenty of 5-star hotels right smack in the middle of KL, and there’s no shortage of rumah tumpangan. But of course, the best option is Tune Hotel (ahem), which is on Jalan TAR, where the traffic can be a bit of a nightmare. There’s an LRT station nearby, but you know how LRT works in this country. Again, the key is to frustrate the teams.

Use outriders
If all of the above measures fail to curtail the speed of the rivals relative to Lotus’ own tortoise-sque pace, then we have one more ace up our sleeves: use of outriders, courtesy of Polis DiRaja Malaysia. Instead of wasting their time weaving in and out of heavy traffic in KL to make sure VIPs/VIPs-wannabe can breeze through in their non-JPJ-approved tinted Mercedes, they will be better utilised to provide police escort to Lotus F1 team. All other cars on the grid will be forced to slow down and give way, so Lotus cars can gently move themselves up towards the sharper end of the grid, all the way to the chequered flag.

Now, you will have noticed that most of the above measures will require some fairly minor tweaking of existing regulations, and possibly renegotiations of commercial rights owner, Lord Bernie.

You may argue that there’s no way on earth that the FIA is going to allow this to happen, but here comes the clever bit. We can — in fact, will — use our very own secret weapon within FIA: Datuk Seri Jean Todt, the current FIA President.

We can get him to allow special dispensation and bend the rules a bit only for the Malaysian Grand Prix. I mean, if he cannot help us with this, then what for we gave him Datukship? He thinks can simply get, issit? How can. We already scratched his back, so now is time for him to scratch our bottoms.

To sweeten the deal, maybe we can offer him to buy one of the islands off Terengganu waters at a heavily discounted price.[15] Alternatively, the price of land and houses in Selangor is pretty good too.

According to an ex-government servant who shall remain nameless, you can actually purchase a 50,000 sq ft house/mansion/estate for as little as RM3.5 million, which is probably how much Jean Todt makes in 20 minutes for looking all serious in the F1 paddock and occasionally rubbing his belly. An amazing deal and a win-win situation, I’d say.

As for Bernie Ecclestone, we just have to work things out with the F1 chief and negotiate some kind of commercial deals to get him to support the regulation change. Presumably, everything has a price, and Tony Fernandes is a businessman extraordinaire and an excellent deal-maker.

As things stand, we have one week before the race in Melbourne and two weeks before the F1 circus comes to town. We should start putting the measures I just suggested in place. We don’t have a lot of time but everything can be achieved if we do our work with unwavering patriotism.

If the suggested strategy actually works, I am confident that Lotus F1 Fan Club membership will swell beyond its current tally of three shareholders, an electrician, a slightly deaf Gal├ípagos giant tortoise (Geochelone nigra)[16] and a Nepalese goat (Nepalianus Capra hircus).[17] But if it doesn’t work, we can remain optimistic and grin like a bunch of idiots, and our prospects will be immeasurably enhanced.[18]

If Lotus F1 actually wins a race, there will be another interesting thing to observe. The Italian/Finland national anthem will be played first [19] followed by the constructor’s national anthem. Now, considering that Lotus is a Malaysian entry, the national anthem that will be played is ‘Negaraku’ and not ‘God Save The Queen’.[20]

I am sure Malaysians will be proud and swell with pride, but I wonder how the British public will react. After all, Lotus F1 is really part of British racing heritage and they are mighty proud of it. And we already promised to protect the legacy left behind by the legendary Colin Chapman.

But that’s a different discussion for another day in a different column.

In the meantime, all together now: Malaysia Boleh!

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

[1] It really was worse than watching paint dry.
[2] OK, I’m exaggerating, but it was excruciatingly bland.
[3] You can argue that they didn’t actually finish the race because by the time Spanish Matador, Fandango Alonso took the chequered flag, Kovalainen was two laps down. Trulli was three laps down and later stopped because of hydraulics problem. Technically, they were classified 15th and 17th.
[4] John Browne, former Group CEO of British Petroleum.
[5] Actually he did not. I just made this up.
[6] The team is fairly confident that things will improve when their new aerodynamics package is ready for Barcelona. But traditionally, everyone will have aero updates by the European season get under way. Lotus will have to hope they will take greater strides relative to other teams’ progress.
[7] Assuming we have some money allocated and it’s not being channelled to other pursuits.
[8] If there is none, I would suggest that we make some.
[9] It goes without saying that the Safety car will be a Proton instead of Mercedes. This is not a problem because Proton is an international car manufacturer just like Mercedes. The only difference is that the Marshals will be spending a bit more time struggling with the power window, which doesn’t always work.
[10] I said it’s hi-tech but I didn’t say anything about it being hi-fidelity.
[11] Typically installed after a long straight.
[12] Except for Lotus, whose paperwork will be sorted by a runner.
[13] Ferrari President.
[14] In Bahrain, it was sand, more sand and still more sand. How exciting can sand be?
[15] I’m assuming this can be legally done in Malaysia.
[16] The largest living tortoise, native to seven islands of the Gal├ípagos archipelago, which can weigh over 300 kilograms and measure 1.2 meters long. They have an estimated life expectancy of around 100–150 years, but populations have fallen dramatically due to hunting and the introduction of predators and grazers by humans since the 17th century. (Seriously, you’ve got to love the internet).
[17] Obviously I made this one up.
[18] Or we can all wear a uniform and get ready for transatlantic flight duties.
[19] Depending on either Jarno or Heikki who clinches P1.
[20] A really rocking song, right up the with United States of America’s ‘Star-Spangled Banner’, Italy’s ‘Il Canto degli Italiani’ (The Chant of the Italians), and France’s ‘La Marseillaise’ (The Song of Marseille).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


KUALA TERENGGANU: A former national player was caught red-handed getting her “kicks” outside the confines of the sepak takraw court.

The 20-year-old was detained by a police team last Sunday for allegedly selling “pil kuda” (psychotropic pills) at a room of a hotel in Jalan Cherong Lanjut here.

Also nabbed were her boyfriend and two other accomplices, including a 23-year-old female clerk, who were believed to be part of a drug distribution network in the state.

Initial police investigations revealed that the sepak takraw player, who had also represented Terengganu in the 2008 Sukma Games, and her accomplices were waiting for their regular clients when they were arrested about 11pm.

Seized from the suspects were 34 psychotropic pills worth RM1,190, and RM350 believed to be proceeds from the sale of the drug, said state narcotics crime investigation department chief Supt Roslan Abdul Wahid.

He said the suspects, who were from here, tested positive for drugs and had used hotel rooms to facilitate the sale of the pills.

Upon checking with the National Sports Council and state Sukma Games manager, Roslan said the police were informed that the athlete was no longer part of the Terengganu Sports Council.

He said the woman had also not represented the country since three months ago.

Friday, March 19, 2010


A group of disgruntled affiliates have asked for the immediate resignation of Malaysian Cricket Association president Tunku Imran Tuanku Jaafar.

They want the man who has helmed cricket for the past 19 years to give up the post together with secretary Sivanandan Chinadurai because of their frustration with the way the association has been managed lately.

The group led by Malacca Cricket Association president Mohd Ridzuan Mani met up here today and later issued a statement, which among other things, urged the president and his right hand man to go.

"We have had enough of his (Tunku Imran's) leadership. It's time for him to step down and hand over the leadership of the Malaysian Cricket Association(MCA) to someone else. Sivanandan should also go.

"We have kept faith in his leadership for far too long and he has not shown the qualities needed to drive the association forward to better times," said Mohd Ridzuan.

Among the grouses are:

* Abuse of power at the very top when it comes to decision making;

* The lack of success of the National team at international level;

* The issue of the Kinrara Oval, home of the MCA where an estimated RM150,000 is being spent yearly;

* Vacancies within the Executive Committee has not been filled up;

* The lack of fundings to run the association

"What we have discussed among ourselves today are issues which the leadership of MCA should have addressed a long time ago. But because they are selfish and do not consider the views of the affliates, the MCA is in trouble now," said Mohd Ridzuan.

The group claims to have the support of at least seven out of the 14 affliates within the MCA and another five votes from the 10-member executive committee.

"We are confident that a couple more affliates are with us once we explain the present MCA situation to them," added Mohd Ridzuan.

The MCA elections are due in March next year.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


YM Tengku Besar Tengku Kamil, the Deputy President of Badminton Association of Malaysia made a startling revelation over TV3's Buletin Utama just moments ago.

He revealed that the BAM Exco was not at all consulted by the President on the decision to suspend Ganga Rao as the Hon. Secretary of BAM.

This is contrary to what was reported today as Datuk Mohd Nadzmi was said to have confided in the Exco Members before issuing the suspension notice, which is yet to be served on Ganga as he arrives back in Malaysia tonight.

Though I am unable to write in verbatim what Tengku Kamil said, it was something to this effect - that the decision has to be deliberated at Exco level before it is taken to the Council. And Tengku Kamil also said that if the President wants to initiate any action, then he (Tengku Kamil) has not been briefed yet as he will assume the leadership of BAM in the absence of Nadzmi.

But what was more surprising is Tengku Kamil's reaction on the non disclosure of the suspension of Ganga to him by either the President or the Secretariat.


Brazilian news agencies have started reporting that a deal has been sealed between Lotus Racing’s F1 team and Brazilian oil company Petrobras. A nice match in terms of aesthetics at least since both Lotus and Petrobras colours are green and yellow. 

Petrobras does not confirm this, saying that the deal is still in negotiations, but there won’t be smoke without fire! The deal is said to be worth US$9 million and Petrobras logos are expected to debut at the Spanish GP. Petrobras is not new to F1 sponsorship – they were a sponsor of Williams in the past.

Being the only new team that finished the race with both cars, the team’s Bahrain results has worked in the Malaysian-backed team’s favor in terms of potential sponsor confidence!


ZIFA CEO Henrietta Rushwaya was re-instated barely 48 hours after her suspension after lawyers warned the football authority that it had erred in procedure.

Rushwaya had been suspended by the ZIFA board pending investigations into Monomotapa Football Club’s trip to Malaysia last year during which they posed as the Zimbabwe national team.

ZIFA chairman Wellington Nyatanga, set to step down on March 27, said lawyers had advised that the move to suspend Rushwaya was unconstitutional. This followed revelations that text messages were used in convening the board meeting in Masvingo last Saturday, contrary to the ZIFA constitution.

Nyatanga told a news conference on Monday: "After consultations with our lawyer, we have since been advised that the decisions passed in Masvingo last Saturday were null and void.

"We asked for legal advice and were told that it was improper and unconstitutional to take such a route ... that it was improper and unconstitutional and we have decided to nullify all resolutions related to that meeting.”

Monomotapa’s trip last August was not sanctioned by the Sports and Recreation Commission as required of all teams going to play outside the country, Nyatanga added. There are other allegations of misconduct against Rushwaya over several tours to Asia by make-shift national team squads which are also said to have been done without the Commission's authority.

Nyatanga, a veteran football administrator, insists he expects a new ZIFA board to still pursue the investigation into possible misconduct by Rushwaya, who became ZIFA CEO in 2007.

"That process will be completed and, even if new faces come on board, they have the responsibility of completing that task,” Nyatanga said


THE Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) suspended chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya on Saturday pending investigations into Monomotapa’s controversial trip to Asia last year during which they posed as the national team.

Rushwaya, who was appointed chief executive of the soccer governing body in March 2007, was suspended at the association's board meeting held in Masvingo.

The meeting was attended by members of the outgoing Zifa board and also those contesting elections scheduled for 27 March.

Rushwaya confirmed the development to New but added that she had not yet seen the letter of suspension.

The Zifa boss said she would only comment when she gets the letter of suspension.

"I have been suspended but there is no formal communication. I am yet to receive the letter informing me of the suspension. I have nothing to comment. I will issue a statement when I get the letter," said Rushwaya.

ZIFA president Wellington Nyatanga who chaired the meeting that made the resolution to suspend Rushwaya confirmed the chief executive's suspension but declined to disclose the reasons for the move.

But, sources close to Zifa said at the weekend Rushwaya was suspended over the controversial decision to send former Premier League champions Monomotapa to Malaysia and pass them off as the Zimbabwe national soccer team last December.

It is alleged Rushwaya sanctioned that trip without the consent of the Sport and Recreation Commission - the country’s supreme sports decision making body which sanctions all international trips.

The Football Association of Malaysia accused ZIFA of deception after New exposed the scandal.

FAM general secretary Datuk Azzudin Ahmad, waving a letter from ZIFA, told journalists: “Look at this letter and tell me what you understand from it. It states clearly they are sending their national side.

“From one national FA to another, there has to be mutual respect. When we are told that this is their national team, we take their word for it. We do not question it because that would be questioning their integrity.”

When confronted on the matter at the time, Rushwaya denied signing the letter sent to FAM passing off Monomotapa -- who wore the national team strip -- as the Warriors.


Suspended ( or rather soon to be ) Badminton Association of Malaysia Hon. Secretary P. Ganga Rao was neither shocked nor surprised when contacted last night.

"If what you are telling me is true, then so be it, " said Ganga.

"I have not been informed about it and really I will have to await for official notification. I have always put the interest of badminton as a priority and will continue to do so. If they ( BAM ) feel that I have acted against the interest of badminton, then I have nothing to say.

"Let us wait for the show cause letter and take it from there. I am aware of certain quarters claiming that I have acted against the interest of BAM and will reveal all at the right forum."

Ganga added that he believed that in the end the truth will prevail.

It is learnt that BAM President Dato Nadzmi, General Manager Kenny Goh and Peter Yeow made a representation to the BAM Patron for the suspension of Ganga.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Badminton Association of Malaysia has created history as it has gone ahead to suspend it's Hon. Secretary P. Ganga Rao before even issuing him a show cause letter.

As news of the suspension was leaked out to the media by one of the three persons who attended the meeting, this blog managed to get in touch with Ganga to hear his side of the story.

So as not to take the thunder away from the main stream media and others, this blog shall only post the reaction of Ganga tomorrow morning.

Suffice to say that the decision to get rid of Ganga was made a few weeks ago and does not come as a surprise.

Ni doubt some personalities on the two hills will rub their hands in glee in getting rid of Ganga but badminton ultimately will suffer barely a day after Lee Chong Wei made it a most sought after sport in terms of sponsorship and marketing.

Be ready for some startling news.....


Sports will become a full-fledged division under the Education Ministry as part of the efforts to strengthen sports development in school, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

This was among the decision reached at a meeting on Wednesday chaired by Muhyiddin, who is the Education Minister, to restore the glory of sports in school starting next year. At the moment, the sports section is under a division together with arts and curriculum.

The sports division will have its own director and assisted by four deputy directors.

"We have also decided that five per cent out of the 10 per cent marks for co-curriculum activities be given to involvement in sports activities," he told a news conference after chairing a meeting of the main committee on sports development in school at parliament house here. He said the 1Student 1Sport policy would also be enforced.

The meeting also decided to appoint more manpower such as special teachers to carry out sports development in school which would be done in stages, he said.

Muhyiddin said the allocation for sports would also be increased from the current rate of RM2.40 per student to RM4 for primary students and RM6 for secondary students.

"We will also rearrange co-curriculum schedules and may incorporate the teaching of sports during school hours so that students need not come back to school at later hours so as not to inconvenience them and their parents," he said.

He said the ministry would find ways to do so without affecting the time allocated for academic studies or increasing the school hours.

"We are taking this approach in order to encourage sports development in school and not to produce athletes. But if we develop sports in school, we will be able to identify talents among students but our overall target is to get them involved in sports," he said.

Muhyiddin said the ministry would also improve sports infrastructure in schools. State governments and local authorities would be asked to allow schools, which were without facilities, to use their fields and halls to carry out sports activities.

"In our survey, nearly 90% are able to implement the 1Student 1Sport policy. As for the remaining 10%, we shall see what the problems are," he said.

Muhyiddin said sports development in school was beneficial to the country because through sports, students could learn to appreciate the spirit of cooperation and the sharing of noble values irrespective of race or religion.

"When Datuk Lee Chong Wei won the All England, no one asked him whether he was a Chinese or a Malay... he is a national champion and we are all proud of him. We want this spirit to be imbibed in the hearts of our children," he said.

Muhyiddin said sports development in school would not neglect the need of disabled students and that the ministry would think of ways to get them involve in the activities.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


PETER Ridsdale could leave Cardiff City as early as the end of this month ... if major investment from the Far East materialises.

Malaysian property tycoon Dato Chan Tien Ghee is set to fly in this week to try to finalise talks on funding for the Bluebirds, thought to be around £6m.

If the talks are positive, Malaysian investors could even be in charge by the time Watford come to Cardiff City Stadium next Sunday.

Ridsdale and fellow club director Alan Whiteley have been in regular contact with Dato Chan. Over the last four days they have spoken to the Malaysian businessman three times – and they will talk again today.

Ridsdale would not comment, but he has always said that once the new stadium is completed and major investors come in he will leave.

Ridsdale has been the target for a number of protests by fans, while the personal abuse he has received from texts and e-mails means he is ready to walk away.

If Dato Chan, known as TG, confirms an investment which would give him day-to-day control of the football club, Ridsdale is ready to go at once.

It is likely fellow director Steve Borley would step in to help on the football side of things should Ridsdale go.

A source close to the chairman said: “Peter Ridsdale said from the start that his job was to help ensure the new stadium was completed – and bring in new investment.

“He will leave when those two factors are completed – and that could be as early as the end of this month.”

Ridsdale has been with the Bluebirds for five years and, while City have established themselves in the Championship during his tenure, they are also facing major financial problems.

If Dato Chan goes ahead with his investment, the outstanding tax debt should be paid.

Former chairman Borley has been in the Far East over the weekend, having taken wife Christine on a birthday treat. He has been staying at a resort on an island off the Malaysian coast, but did fly into Kuala Lumpur and held a meeting with Dato Chan.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Below are the views of Dato Sieh Kok Chi, Hon. Secretary Olympic Council of Malaysia with regards to National Sports Associations.

Many cannot accept honesty and frank views currently and the views below really reflect the current state of affairs in the sporting arena, every man or woman for him/herself.

The strength of National Sports Associations (NSAs) depends entirely on the leaders they have to lead, guide and manage the NSAs. Without good, competent and dedicated leaders, such as Presidents, Deputy Presidents, Vice Presidents, Hon. Secretaries, Hon. Treasurers, NSAs will not be able to function well, let alone make good progress.

It may perhaps be appropriate to quote the advice by the late Tun Dr Ismail, a former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, to his Party members. He said that people should join political parties to serve only after they have achieved certain level of success in their career and never to join a political party with the intention to enrich oneself.

The late Tun Dr. Ismail’s advice can apply to volunteer sports officials as well. In the past, all volunteer sports officials worked full-time and in their spare time volunteered to serve sport. Only when they have achieved stability in their career, did they dare to hold office.

Today, there are many people who strive to be Presidents and Office Bearers of sports organisations, when they are still in the process of furthering their career.

As such, these people have nether the time or the means to really work for sport as volunteers. There are also others whose livelihood depends on sports, such as coaches, sports equipment distributors, sports marketing agents, etc., who also wish to hold office, thereby placing themselves in conflict of interest situations.

The two most important questions a person who wishes to hold office in any sports organisation as a volunteer are ‘Why do I wish to hold office?’ and ‘How can I make the organisation better?’.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Nought from the Greeks towards me hath sped well.
So now I find that ancient proverb true,
Foes' gifts are no gifts: profit bring they none.

In simple English the phrase means beware of Greeks bearing gifts. An apt description of the situation concerning the Harimau Muda stint in the Slovakian League.
The newspaper images produced above tell of contrasting tales with regards to what the team is really up to in Slovakia. Let it be clear from the start, I have nothing against the team being there, and when I questioned about the cooks being sent so late, another blogger tried to make a meal out of it by telling the team officials I was critical. Well that what he does best.

So the expose by Harian Metro further strengthens what I had written when the participation in the Slovak League was first revealed by FAM last month. What we are asking for is accountability and transparency, and that is not asking too much.

Transparency in terms of what is the cost of the stint, and if it was true that the team is actually participating in the Slovak League or playing friendly matches. On the case of being "bodoh" or not, that I leave to readers to infer.

As far as accountability, if the Malaysian public and the FAM President and its Exco has been misled, then the person responsible should do the right thing, vacate his position and admit that he had taken the nation for a ride.

More ironically, the team has no Manager nor Team Administrator in Slovakia and hence the coaches should not have to bear the burden of having to reply to the allegations put forward by Harian Metro who obviously have done their homework.

But maybe the story might die a natural death by tomorrow, as a big wig from FAM will make some phone calls to certain personalities to spike the follow up, as was the case when my posting on this matter was picked up by a TV station only to be told to no longer use anything from this blog, perhaps die to the fact 1Malaysia is a slogan only and not practiced.


Following the decision by MGA to hit out at the organisors of the Asian PGA Classic, a press statement was issued by the now defunct MPGA ( read below).

What is most disappointing s that the two parties concerned, organisers of the Iskandar Open and the PGA event have not sat down to discuss options open to them.

We refer to the statement by the President of the Malaysian Golf Association(MGA) Dato’ Robin Loh and wish to clarify that the organisers and sponsors of the CIMB Asian Golf Classic do not need the sanction of the MGA.
“MGA is not the sanctioning body for professional events, safe for the Malaysian Open Golf Championships which ended over the weekend,” said the MPGA secretary S Selvakumar .
MGA has got no right to sanction any professional tournament-this right is only with the MPGA which was clarified by the Sports Commissioner on 14 November 2007.
Even as early as October 1991, the then secretary of the MGA David M H Lee had clarified via official MGA letter that the sanctioning body for professional tournaments was the MPGA.
The 1998 World Cup where Tiger Woods made his maiden appearance in Malaysia held at the Mines Golf Club was also sanctioned by the MPGA.
“Robin Loh is talking “cock”-he does not know his facts. He should check the MGA Constitution and its own website which states that MGA is for amateurs only except for the Maybank Malaysian Open which is their own event,” added Selvakumar.
This problem has been there for some time now and the MGA has been going around saying that it could sanction professional tournaments. Organisers should be aware of this ploy by the MGA. The MGA has of late developed a thirst for power-they want to control everything and always seem to be running out of money,. Perhaps the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission should investigate the MGA. There is something fishing going on there, said Selvakumar.
 “If only 2 professional made the cut at the Maybank Malaysian Open is because none of the MGA programmes has been successful in developing talent with money being wasted in so called development programmes that only benefit officials of the MGA,” said Selvakumar. The 2 pros who made the cut were from the MPGA.
The MPGA has been suspended by the Sports Commissioner since October 2008 and since then a successor body is in the making with the blessing of the Minister of Youth & Sports Dato’ Ahmad Cheek. It is either of these 2 bodies that has the right to sanction not an association that looks after amateurs. On the status of the association, Selvakumar clarified that it is awaiting for an appointment to meet with its Royal Patron His Majesty Sultan Azlan Shah before considering the next move.
“The statement by Robin speaks for itself. He does not know what he is talking about and it is best that he does not interfere with the affairs of the professionals. We know how to take care of ourselves,” emphasised Selvakumar.
The MGA is reminded that the MPGA and its members have taken the MGA to court over the same issue and are confident of the outcome.
This statement is issued by S Selvakumar , Hon. Secretary of the Malaysian Professional Golfers Association Contact No: XXXXXX


Jarno Trulli has assessed the situation at Lotus Racing ahead of the F1 2010 curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir in a week-and-a-half's time, contending that at the scene of his most recent pole position in the top flight, the Anglo/Malaysian newcomer is around four seconds shy of the leading pace and 'ready for racing, but not really for fighting'.

Lotus concluded the final pre-season test around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya at the weekend almost five seconds adrift of the outright benchmark in the hands of Heikki Kovalainen and two seconds away from the slowest of the established teams, albeit narrowly ahead of fellow newcomer Virgin.

On his own last day inside the cockpit of the Mike Gascoyne-penned, Cosworth-powered T127, Trulli had actually managed to leap ahead of the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi, winding up 4.4 seconds off Nico Rosberg's fastest effort for Mercedes Grand Prix. It will be a similar scenario, the 35-year-old Pescara native opines, when the serious action gets underway in the desert kingdom next weekend, with performance having been sacrificed for laudable reliability in the initial stages.

“We are not happy with the pace that we have at the moment, but we knew we wouldn't be,” ESPN quotes the experienced Italian as having reflected, as he suggested that in Lotus' case at least, the lap times seen during testing are fairly representative. “We are ready for racing, but not really for fighting. Maybe we can fight with Virgin, but the rest of the field is still out of reach.”

Warning not to expect too much from Lotus until the first major upgrade is introduced in time for the beginning of the European leg of the campaign – with the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona in early May – Trulli confessed that whilst progress will come, instant miracles are unlikely.

“The same as [Barcelona testing] basically, not much more,” the former Monaco Grand Prix-winner revealed of his expectations for Bahrain. “Unfortunately, I am not a magician. It would be nice to score a point, but it is not going to be easy. We have to be realistic – we are probably four seconds off.

“We already know what is wrong, but we don't have enough time to sort it out right away. We knew in advance where the weaknesses were, but we have to get ready for Bahrain and ship everything over, so there is no time left. Once we return to Europe, we will probably make a step forward.”

“We reckon we will be 3.5 seconds off the fastest car [in Bahrain], an improvement of five seconds from Jerez,” concurred an upbeat team principal Tony Fernandes. “We keep chipping away.”

Those sentiments are largely echoed by Gascoyne, who has brought with him to Lotus a wealth of experience from previous employers McLaren, Sauber, Tyrrell, Toyota, Renault, Jordan and Force India and who insists that the Hingham-based concern is 'in very good shape' for its F1 bow given that it has had a scant eight testing days to prepare for Sakhir.

The T127 might currently be lacking in terms of out-and-out raw pace, but its designer is clearly 'proud' of the team's progress in the five months it has had since officially gaining a 2010 entry – and hopeful of achieving on-track respectability during its maiden campaign of competition as it carries the weight of the iconic Lotus name.

“The test was extremely productive,” the Englishman summarised of Barcelona. “In general we've had very good reliability, and the team is in very good shape going to the first race. Considering the length of time we've had to work on the project, it's a fantastic effort from the whole team. Everyone has worked exceptionally hard over the two tests, and we now have to work on the pace of the car and improve that – but it's been a tremendous effort from the whole team and I'm very proud of them.”

Monday, March 08, 2010


The draw for the 2010 Thomas/Uber Cups was conducted today. The tournament will be held in Stadium Putra from 9 to 16th May 2010.

For this year the 12 teams in each competition are placed in four groups comprising of 3 teams each with only the top two moving into the knockout stage. For the knockout stage, the seedings will be based on the world ranking of May 6 and only preliminary round group champions will be seeded.

The draw is as follows:

Thomas Cup

Group A
China, Korea, Peru

Group B
Malaysia, Japan, Nigeria

Group C
Denmark, Germany, Poland

Group D
Indonesia, India, Australia


Group A
China, Malaysia, USA

Group B
Indonesia, Denmark, Australia

Group C
Japan, Russia, Germany

Group D
Korea, India, South Africa


Bring in the auditors

WHEN Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah was appointed the country’s first sports minister in the seventies, he was deemed to be the best person for the job. Besides being an all-round sportsman, he understood management, intricacies and politics in sports. Besides, having partaken in sports and the fellowship which usually followed, he had first-hand knowledge of the needs of players; the development of talent at grassroots level; and no one could give him bull on any aspect of sports. He was hands-on when it came to administration through his years of experience as a judicial officer and often used his knowledge and experience to sort out issues.

Today, some 40 years later, the ministry is at a crossroads. The objective of setting up such a ministry has been blurred. Its vision and mission have been hijacked by parties with vested interests. Money is the name of the game and over the years, billions have been spent with non-tangible results to show. From an organisation which was supposed to supplement and help national sports associations (NSAs) to further their causes, it has changed into one which is more apt at creating multi-layers of officialdom and spending large sums of money in other roles.

Instead of being the backbone of sports for the masses, it has become selective and elitist. Instead of being involved in enhancing the standard of sports, it has ended up being embroiled in the politics of NSAs. Instead of being neutral and non-participant in the affairs of NSAs, it has sometimes gone to the point of taking sides. Instead of being focused, it has been sidetracked by setting up various mini-organisations within, thereby spending more money. The National Fitness Council is just one example.

Just because there is funding, money has been strewn on all kinds of projects that do nothing to enhance the level of sports. Paying RM10 million for a 24-minute sports news segment is one of them. Giving away RM17 million for the Champions Youth Cup was another. The list of "abuses" is long and when asked to justify such expenditure, everyone – the secretary general, the directors and even the minister – goes into a silent mode as if one is talking to a bunch of deaf people.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the ministry and some of its agencies, especially the National Sports Council (NSC) make headlines almost every week for all the wrong reasons. It has been given 21 days to respond to a show-cause letter from the disciplinary board of the ministry over the purchase of chalets which cost taxpayers RM850,000.

I am convinced nothing is going to come out of it and please do not expect heads to roll. For too long, the ministry and some of its agencies have become the personal domain of a selected few whose "godfathers" have always afforded protection.

The ministry’s secretary-general, Datuk Yasin Salleh, chairs the disciplinary board. And that’s where the problem starts. Was he not aware of the purchase made by the NSC? This would be capital expenditure and surely, as head-honcho of the ministry, he should know of all assets of the ministry. Are we to assume there is no "register of assets" as such in government departments? I have nothing personal against Yasin but wasn’t he the same man who signed the agreement with ESPN and posed for cameramen with the documents when the deal was made? Can he justify the millions spent and the "return on investment"?

In April 2008, theSun reported that the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation Malaysia received RM9.72 million from the NSC and another RM1.5 million from the ministry – good money, people’s money that was squandered on staging the games where aerial dancers were brought in from Australia to the tune of RM800,000 for the opening ceremony. Former Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said distanced herself from the million-ringgit fiasco by saying that as the mere patron of the foundation, she "just cut ribbons".

"I don’t get involved with management and I don’t have a say in funding," she was quoted as saying. So, if she had no say in the funding, then who did? So, who decided on who got what and how much; and who signed the cheques? Surely, it is not beyond Yasin’s knowledge.

And that’s why I am repeating the call for a team of external auditors to thoroughly examine how our funds were managed. The abuse and misuse may not be to the extent of the Port Klang Free Trade Zone, but according to my sources, it could run into a few hundred million ringgit. That’s enough for some alarm bells to ring.

R. Nadeswaran is passionate about accountability in sports as it involves taxpayers’ money. He can be reached at

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Another trip to do fact finding and discussions on the possible placement of footballers in England will take place commencing tomorrow, Friday, March 5.

One member of the party, which among others comprises of the Deputy Sports Minister Dato Razali and NSC DG Dato Zolkples Embong, will have departed by today. His mission initially is to make arrangements for the two gentlemen to visit the Harimau Muda team in Slovakia.

So amongst others, as reported in the main stream media and through information gathered, is for Razali and Zol to visit Liverpool, Manchester United as well as Everton. Maybe the two gentlemen who went earlier were not able to close the deal, hence Zol and Razali are seen to be the final jigsaw in the puzzle.

I wonder what the fascination is about to visit top clubs in England, the likes of Liverpool, United, Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal? What development work have they done? Besides harping on Wayne Rooney being the product of Everton, seriously what development has these clubs achieved, but to buy players from smaller clubs.

So really Mr. Deputy Minister and Mr. Director General, if your core business is football, then I will understand the rationale to visit such big clubs. But if it is development that matters, then go to Sheffield United, Stoke City, Hull, Cardiff City, Reading and West Ham, for these are the clubs that really do developmental work.

It is the end products, the polished diamonds that are being beamed into our living rooms and it does not tke a rocket scientist to figure out that there must be a base before they become top names in the EPL.

And yes, while you are in Slovakia, please let us know why is it that now the team needs two cooks to be sent to prepare meal for the team. Was it not FAM that said all arrangements had been done and that all was well? So why is it and after thought, kind of like being a class F contractor that keeps filing in variation orders to increase the profitability.

Tell you what, since our boys are feeling cold, take our sun along too, oops kind of goofed there as that is something FAM cannot add to their wish list from the government.

So readers, let me tell you a litte secret, remember initially the government said it will give RM50 million for football but later it was RM10 million. Well the RM10 million is just the funds for fact finding missions such as this lah.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


From the looks of it, a clash between the Asian Tour and the PGA is on the cards judging from the clash of dates in staging the Iskandar Open and the inaugural Asia Pacific Classic PGA Tour.

The first PGA Tour event in the region -- the Asia Pacific Classic PGA Tour will be held at The Mines Resort and Golf Club, Seri Kembangan, from Oct 28 to 31 while the Asian Tour in announcing their 2010 calendar of events earlier this year listed Oct 28-31 as the dates for the Iskandar Open, to be held at the Royal Johor Golf Club which will offer a minimum of USD 1 million purse.

The dates are the centre of contention as the top players tend to be in this region during that period for on Nov 4-7 the SGC-HSBC Champions will be held at the Sheshan International GC, Shanghai with a total purse of US$7 million.

And this will be followed by on Nov 11-14 with the Barclays Singapore Open at the Sentosa GC, Singapore offering US$5 million prize money.

The Hong Kong Open which will be played at the Hong Kong GC will be next from Nov 18-21 offering a total of US$2.5 million.

Ironically the PGA Tour received a strong backing from CIMB Group, a prominent banking group in the country, that emerged as its title sponsor at an annual cost of USD 8.5 million with the sponsorship signing ceremony between CIMB Group and the Mines Resort and Golf Club held at the resort on Tuesday.

The PGA Classic will offer a total prize money of US$6 million (RM21 million) and the winner of the competition would walk home with US$1 million (RM3.5 million).

The 40-man field competing in the prestigious tournament would comprise the top 25 players from the PGA Tour's final FedExCup, top-10 available players from the Asian Tour's Order of Merit and at least one Malaysian professional.

The Asian Tour's busy stretch of events will kick off from July till December. The Tour's biggest events - the Barclays Singapore Open, the Hong Kong Open, Iskandar Johor Open and WGC-HSBC Champions in China - will be held during the latter part of the season from October, which will ensure another thrilling conclusion to the Asian Tour's Order of Merit race.

Hence it will be good if the Asian Tour will confirm if it indeed has given sanction to the PGA Tour and in the process make changes to its own calendar, at the expense of the Iskandar Open.

2010 Asian Tour Schedule October and November

Oct 7-10: Indonesia President Invitational, Course tba, Jakarta, US$400,000.

Oct 14-17:
Macau Open, Macau GCC, Macau, US$500,000.

Oct 28-31:
Iskandar Johor Open, Royal Johor CC, Johor Bahru, Malaysia, US$1 million (minimum).

Nov 4-7:
WGC-HSBC Champions, Sheshan International GC, Shanghai, US$7 million.

Nov 11-14:
Barclays Singapore Open, Sentosa GC, Singapore, US$5 million.

Nov 18-21:
Hong Kong Open, Hong Kong GC, Hong Kong, US$2.5 million.

Nov 25-28:
Event tba

Dec 2-5: King's Cup, Venue tba, US$300,000.

Dec 9-12:
Event tba.
Dec 16-19: The Tour Championship, Details tba


Heikki Kovalainen has admitted that his new car, the Lotus T127, is worse than the Minardi he tested more than six years ago.

Minardi chief Paul Stoddart gave the then 22-year-old Finn a two-day test at Vallelunga in late 2003 and nearly signed him to race.

When asked by Finland's Turun Sanomat to compare the Minardi with the Lotus, fielded by the new Malaysian backed team in 2010, Kovalainen answered: "It's difficult because the tires are so different.

"But the Lotus is probably missing more aerodynamically than the Minardi cars (were) when you compare them with the top (cars)."

At the end of 2003, the Minardis were regularly 5 seconds off the pace of the leaders, while Kovalainen's teammate Jarno Trulli said last weekend that he thinks the T127 is about four seconds behind.

Kovalainen was nearly 5 seconds behind when the 2010 pre-season came to a close at Barcelona on Sunday.

But in 2010, there is more parity between teams in terms of engine and tire performance, meaning the differences in lap time is substantially due to the chassis.

Kovalainen, now 28, admitted that Lotus' "biggest problem" currently is aerodynamics.

To Turun Sanomat, he also rued his pre-season preparations, revealing that he has "never gone into a season with less testing".

Team boss Tony Fernandes thinks Lotus has progressed well this winter.

"We reckon we will be 3.5 seconds off the fastest car (in Bahrain), an improvement of 5 seconds from Jerez. We keep chipping away," he said.