Are some of the sports administrators in Malaysia being paid exorbitant sums?
Many national sports associations do not have the financial capacity to pay even a four figure salary to their administrators, while many are still managed by volunteers for free.
However, some associations seems to be paying their administrators much more than what major companies pay for their Chief Executive Officers (CEO) or Chief Operating Officers (COO).
News that the newly appointed Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) COO Michelle Chai would be earning RM30,000 per month with other perks, comes as a shock to many.
The Football Associaton of Malaysia (FAM) and the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) are the other two sports organisations also said to be paying their top officials five figure salaries.
Datuk Kenny Goh, who was appointed as the new full time BAM secretary general is said to earning somewhere close to RM30,000 including perks. Ironically it was his return to the BAM that prompted Michelle’s move to OCM. The BAM CFO is said to be earning somewhere in the region of RM20,000 per month.
The research firm PayScale indicates that the annual median salary of a COO in Malaysia is RM234,528 per annum or just RM19,544 per month.
They also established the following from their research:
An early career Chief Operating Officer (COO) with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of RM 100,000 based on 21 salaries. A mid-career Chief Operating Officer (COO) with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of RM 132,000 based on 13 salaries. An experienced Chief Operating Officer (COO) with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of RM 232,762 based on 24 salaries. In their late career (20 years and higher), employees earn an average total compensation of RM 270,000.
It is interesting to note that many main board and second board companies pay their CEOs less than RM400,000 a year.
So are the sports organisations, including the OCM, justified in paying their top administrators as much as the do?
Former OCM secretary, who had questioned the high salaries paid to the top management of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (SUKOM) in 1998, was equally flabbergasted by the current trend.
“I have always objected to such practices. How can the OCM pay someone more than the Director General of the National Sports Council,” said Kok Chi.
Other top sports officials in the country including the CEO of the National Sports Institute, the Sports Commissioner and the CEO of the Stadium Board are all said to also be earning less than the newly minted OCM COO.
Despite only having served the BAM for two years and a short stint with the Asian Football Confederation the decision to appoint Michelle to the post had ruffled some. However, both the OCM executive board and council endorsed the decision without any objections with the the exception of the President of Squash Rackets of Malaysia (SRAM) Nik Razeen A Daud.
Kok Chi pointed out that the in the past most sports administrators were volunteers and held full time jobs elsewhere.
“Now it is a full time job in sports and people come into the fray even without any background in sports. And with all the perks thrown in, it seventh heaven for them,” said Kok Chi.
While the top administrators walk away with huge pay cheques, the lower ranked staff are often disregarded. How about the salaries to be paid to credible coaches and athletic support staff?
Another official, who did not want to be named said that the irony of the situation with OCM and the BAM was baffling.
“Malaysia has yet to win the Thomas Cup since 1992, have never won the Uber Cup, the Sudirman Cup, the World Championships or the Olympics. Yet they decide their General Manager was not good enough to guide them to deliver in the BAM and see her in a stronger vein in the OCM. Who will produce the gold for Malaysia – the BAM or the OCM,” said the official.
With a large chunk of annual budgets of sports associations being used for salaries of only a handful of officials, how would it effect the development of sports?
With the current tightening of spending by the government and decreasing sponsorship, sports associations including the BAM and the FAM are seeing their development programmes affected.
Is going back to the basics,including pushing for more volunteerism in sports, a viable option?