PETALING JAYA: National badminton legend Lee Chong Wei has applauded former rival Taufik Hidayat for making the effort to curb match-fixing problems in the sport.
Chong Wei said it was easy to understand why Taufik made the shocking revelation on an attempt made by a Malaysian official to manipulate the match between them during the 2006 Doha Asian Games semi-final.
In an exclusive interview with Indonesian television channel Trans TV, Taufik claimed that he rejected “a Malaysian team manager” offer to deliberately lose the match for 400mil rupiah (RM117,000), which doubled the gold-medal incentive offered by the Indonesian government at that time.
Feeling insulted, Taufik said he told the alleged official: “How about he lose the match and I pay?”
Taufik, who went on to emerge Asiad champion that year, made the claim when the interviewer asked him what was the most unforgettable moment in his career.
“I got in touch with Taufik almost immediately after learning about the revelation last weekend. I was shocked too because he has never mentioned about it all this while even though we’re good friends,” said Chong Wei.
“Taufik told me he just wanted to make a point that a true sportsman should never betray the country, not for any amount of money.
“He’s very concerned about the match-fixing problems that’s becoming a real threat to the sport we love. He wanted to tell the current and future generation of players to stay away from it. It’s certainly a timely reminder for all.”
Both Malaysia and Indonesia, being the badminton powerhouses, have made the headlines for the wrong reasons this year.
In January, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) slapped three Indonesian shuttlers and a Malaysian individual with lifetime bans for committing offences relating to betting, wagering and irregular match results. Also punished were six more Indonesian shuttlers who were suspended for between six to 12 years and fined.
The Malaysian individual was identified as Lim Ze Young in the report released by the BWF. The offender isn’t a shuttler, but a representative of a sports equipment brand.
For Malaysian badminton, it’s certainly embarrassing to make the headlines for the wrong reasons again after two shuttlers, Tan Chun Seang and Zulfadli Zulkiffli, were banned 15 and 20 years respectively for match-fixing.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria said they are ready to assist the BWF if they decide to open an investigation on the matter through their Integrity Unit.
“I have told Datuk Kenny (Goh, BAM secretary) to look into Taufik’s claim,” said Norza, who is also the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president.
“But first we’ll need to verify the story to ensure if it actually took place.
“Based on Taufik and Chong Wei’s statements, I believe the BWF would probably have a basis to investigate. If needed, we will assist in anyway we can.”