Two years ago, when this writer raised the issue of that the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) was contemplating to sell off the their property in Taman Maluri, that formerly housed the national training centre, the denials came in quick.
Within a short time after the article was posted online, a senior BAM office bearer called the writer to point out that the article was written in bad faith and the organisation could even sue the writer for publishing fake news.
The same day the BAM came out with the press statement below:
“Having received a proposal from an interested party to purchase the Taman Maluri property, the BAM Council have set-up a sub-Committee, led by Dato’ Wira Lim Teong Kiat, to study the feasibility of the proposal. Any decision related to the Taman Maluri property will rest on the BAM Annual General Meeting, as provided for by the BAM Constitution.
BAM’s main objectives are to promote and develop the game of Badminton, and these remain our core objectives and focus. While BAM continues to strive for a healthier financial state, the current financial situation is at a manageable level and does not necessitate the sale of the Taman Maluri property.
BAM continues to work diligently to ensure we regain our status as a badminton powerhouse while remaining financially sustainable. Our players and grassroots development will always remain at the heart of our operations.”
Well if not for the Covid-19 pandemic that forced the BAM to postpone their general body meeting last year, selling the plot of land granted to the association by the government would have probably been pushed through.
And it is exactly what the BAM executive committee wants its members to agree to when the much delayed Annual General Meeting (AGM) takes place tomorrow morning.
In the agenda for the meeting tomorrow is to “Consider and approve the sale of the land held under PM No 263, Lot 1538 Mukim Ampang, Daerah Kuala Lumpur together with the buildings thereon currently operated as a premier international school in Taman Maluri, Kuala Lumpur”.
By BAM’s own contention does that mean that it’s the current financial situation is no longer at a manageable level and necessitate the sale of the said property.
The BAM cannot claim that the pandemic was the reason because this was already on the table for the last two years and was on the agenda early last year itself.
The six-acre land that was given to BAM on lease by the government back in the 1990’s but since moving to their own home in Bukit Kiara, it was rented to Sri Garden International School.
The BAM earns more than RM1 million in rental from the said property annually.
The land was obtained through the efforts of the late Tan Sri Elyas Omar and Datuk Punch Gunalan who were BAM president and secretary then.
It was put under three trustees: Elyas, Datuk Seri Dr Abdullah Fadzil Che Wan and deputy president Datuk Roland Wong. However following the death of Elyas, the BAM has managed to get the consent of the other two to withdraw themselves as the Trustees.
The BAM owns two plots of land and they are hoping to dispose of one. Maybe when the funds depletes, the second would also be disposed.
Is it right for the BAM or for the matter any other who receive a land as a grant from te government to sell it off?
While selling the land would ensure that the BAM gets quick funds in its hands, is it ultimately the best business decision?
If the BAM need funds, would it not be more ideal to mortgage the land? Is this the ideal time to sell a land when the property markets have been ravaged by the pandemic?
However, if the funds received are not spend but invested properly, it may help to create a bigger income compared to what is received in rental now.
While the BAM may choose to look the other way, there is no denying the fact that the organization has been going through a big drop in sponsorship and income. There is still uncertainty of the title sponsorship renewal by Celcom and other sponsors, especially with the biggest drawcard Datuk Lee Chong Wei no longer playing.
According to the BAM annual returns, their fund balance had gone down from RM18,380,777 as of January 2016 to just RM6,865,588 at the end of 2018.
Last year especially would have seen the BAM’s income down drastically due to the cancellation of the Malaysian Open and Malaysian Masters.
With salary packages going as high as RM80,000 to at least one member of their staff, the BAM’s administrative and operating expenses alone in 2018 was a RM6,001,904.
The BAM general body is expected to agree with the proposal to sell the land, but hopefully they will also put in the safeguards to ensure that the income is not spent unwisely.
The Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM) were owners of their own property in the 1990s. There were proposal to sell off the semi-D house, worth more than RM800,000, and invest in buying an office block. But without any safeguards, the funds from the sales were used to finance other activities. Within a short span with the property sold the money earned was also no longer in their coffers.
If the decision to sell the property is given the go-ahead, the BAM should never spend their capital. It should be treated like a sovereign fund. They should only spend the revenue from the investments from the fund.
This should be the golden rule that must not be broken.