THE Kedah football team victory in the FA Cup final recently was not only celebrated by the people but also caught the interest of the Kedah royalty — avid supporters of the state’s football.
Sultan of Kedah Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah hosted a special dinner on May 25 and handed over a RM20,000 bonus to the Red Eagle’s squad members for their glorious achievement in bringing back the FA Cup to Kedah after nine years.
It was the fourth FA Cup victory for the Kedah football team after winning the competition for the first time in 1996, followed by 2007 and 2008.
The FA Cup is the third cup won by the Kedah team in a span of seven months after clinching the prestigious Malaysia Cup championship in October 2016, followed by the Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Cup in January this year.
As the president of the Kedah Football Association (KFA), these achievements are the manifestation of KFA’s commitment in building a strong team based on our formula.
From another perspective, KFA has proven that the success of a squad does not depend solely on financial prowess, but is also built on solid teamwork — from management down to the squad and players who displayed heroic feats on the pitch.
These are the factors that restored Kedah’s position as among the giants in the Malaysian football league.
As Kedah has confirmed a slot in the Asia Football Confederation Cup, the management and players must show greater solidarity and teamwork to face the challenges.
Through the prudent spending philosophy adopted by KFA, the association has been focusing on grassroots development and, at the same time, paying due attention to the welfare of the players, officers and our loyal fans.
I am proud to note that most of the players in the current Kedah senior squad are youngsters born and raised in Kedah, which proves our ability to produce talents capable of competing in the national football arena.
I am also very proud to say that we wish to churn out even more football talents that are capable of making a mark in the international stage, through the Datuk Ahmad Basri Academy.
On a separate matter, it seems that issues concerning development is a never-ending polemic in this state.
I have been accused of trying to change the Kedah’s economic landscape to an industrialised powerhouse at the expense of our status as the nation’s Rice Bowl.
I have made it clear, over and over, that Kedah will remain the nation’s rice supplier and I wish to see that the padi fields receive a modern technology injection to boost production.
The truth is, I am not trying to change the state economic landscape, but rather to spur its growth by doing some minor adjustment by converting some padi plots in the city area and replacing them in other areas.
This move will indirectly help to further expand the Muda Agriculture Development Authority territory in the city outskirts and rural areas, which have not received much attention before this. It is meant to spike the growth for both agriculture and industrial sectors in Kedah.
I hope this explanation will clear the confusion raised by certain quarters. But of course, I will have to get ready to face political backlash from the opposition, who will always find ways to manipulate such issues.
Talking about politics, I attended the 71st Umno anniversary celebration at Bukit Jalil Stadium earlier this month, which was attended by Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
I was truly amazed by the sea of red at the stadium, which was filled with the shouts of Umno members, who rallied behind the party that has been the backbone of the Barisan Nasional government since Independence.
Nobody could deny Umno and BN’s advantage as the coalition which has been committed in serving the people.
Why I am saying this? It is back to the reality that I mentioned earlier that Umno is the backbone party of a government which has been ruling the nation for the past six decades.
Umno is never quiet from trials and tribulations and the party is now facing slander and allegations meant to bring this party down. Even all the good deeds that were done through the party are being claimed as individual achievements, although it is a fact that the leaders had achieved success based on support from Umno and the people.
As a seasoned politician, I could not digest such a situation and I am very sad with the slanders and lies made against the party, as if we had never done anything good in the eyes of the critics.
For me, Malaysians must honestly re-evaluate this matter. I must also stress that although the giant gathering in Bukit Jalil Stadium manifested the fact that Umno is still strong and supported by the members, it does not mean that Umno can sit on its laurels.
Let us ponder for a moment. Umno has been alleged to have forced students to attend the gathering to fill up the stadium. Ironically, the opposition did not think it was wrong when they dragged students to join them in the street protests during the Bersih gatherings that, in reality, are dirty.
DATUK SERI AHMAD BASHAH MD HANIPAH is Kedah Menteri Besar