PETALING JAYA: It was a tense affair indeed.
Tengku Mahkota Pahang Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah needed a dramatic re-vote to beat off Tengku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim 27-12 for the Football Association of Malaysia’s (FAM) president’s post at the Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie ballroom on Sunday.
This is the first time that there has been a fight for the presidency since 1984 – the year Sultan Ahmad Shah replaced the late Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah in the hot seat.
The 50th FAM Congress began just as dramatically, with Sultan Ahmad withdrawing from the race, leaving his son Tengku Abdullah to take on Johor FA president Tunku Ismail.
The original election result saw Tengku Abdullah winning 24-15. But FAM general-secretary Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin announced that the result was not acceptable as the FAM constitution required the winner of a three-horse race to get a two-third majority.
So, the delegates had to vote again. Except this time, it was announced that the winner would need just a simple majority.
And Tengku Abdullah came out triumphant – winning 27-12.
The result was greeted with loud cheers in the hall.
Earlier, there was an intense three-way battle for the two deputy presidents’ posts as well. Datuk Seri Afandy Hamzah (27 votes) and Datuk Mokhtar Ahmad (26) got in, pipping national football team manager Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal, who lost by just one vote (25).
Sultan Ahmad, in his address, admitted that there was a drastic need for a revamp, saying “I am all for change and for the game to take a new direction”.
“We need a major revamp,” said the outgoing president, who was given a standing ovation by the delegates.
The Sultan, who was later made an honorary lifetime president of FAM, also called on the affiliates to change their ways and thinking and to play a more significant role in pushing the game forward.
He said that “football must be commercialised”.
Before concluding his speech, Sultan Ahmad said it was time for him to bow out and allow fresh blood to take over and chart the future of Malaysian football.