Hoon Thien How-Lim Khim Wah

* BAM increase players’ allowance but players still leaving

* Thien How-Khim Wah latest to quit bringing the total to five since November

* Malaysian badminton in shambles as more expected to quit

A somewhat rosy picture was painted after the so called “pow-wow” in Kuching during last month’s Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold but in actual fact the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) is sinking into deeper waters despite increasing the allowances of players.

The 50% to 100% increase is backdated to Jan 1 but it did not stop Hoon Thien How-Lim Khim Wah quitting the national team on Wednesday – a day after the new monetary incentives were announced.

This clearly reflects the “mess” that has been created under the new management with the message clear that the BAM has to take stock of the situation.

The number of national players who have quit since November last year has risen to five. The figure may increase further as more are expected to leave in pursuit of their professional career as independent players. This is alarming.

The resignation of  Thien How-Khim Wah has sent shock waves in the badminton fraternity. Others who have parted ways with the BAM were the Ng sisters – Hui Ern and Hui Lin (women’s doubles), Ong Jian Guo (mixed doubles) and national women’s singles champion Yang Li Lian.

The latest blow may not be a “really big thing” to BAM but the national badminton body cannot ignore that the situation does not augur well for Malaysian badminton, especially when the Sudirman Cup will be held in China in May and the 28th SEA Games in Singapore from June 5-16.

The spate of resignations has crippled Malaysian badminton and it could get worse. It is learnt that some of the coaches are also contemplating leaving at the end of their contract.

It is not the monetary rewards alone but the overall working environment is not conducive – something the players have voiced out. The frustration is so hurting that the “one big family” tagline that BAM used to be proud of has been chucked out of the window.

There were occasions when players wanted to quit BAM but were forced to stay on because they were threatened with lengthy bans which could have denied them their livelihood as badminton is their career.

The “iron-fist” rule does not work in any sports association and BAM is no exception.

No one can deny the drive and passion shown by Malaysian players when donning national colours in tournaments. However, the lack of professionalism by the management has rocked Malaysian badminton.

A wall has been created between the management and the rest (players and coaches) and this needs to be brought down fast.     

Boon Heong did voice out his frustration during last year’s Axiata Cup mixed team championships in Jakarta and said: “I should have left the BAM a long time ago as I had received better offers elsewhere. I should have accepted the lucrative offers but my love for my country stopped me.”

For the record two Malaysian-born players Loh Kean Yew (singles) and Loh Kean Hean (doubles) are Singapore’s future badminton stars with their eyes on the Olympics. The Loh brothers, who hail from Penang, have taken up Singapore citizenship and are currently studying in the island republic.

Kean Yew has already won a number of junior international tournaments and has set his sights on qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He also played for Singapore in the Axiata Cup last year. Kean Hean is 20 years-old while Kean Yew is 18.

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