By Terrence Voon
IN THE International Cricket Council (ICC), Test giants like Australia, India and South Africa often have a big say.
Now, Singapore, too, has a voice in the council – in the form of Singapore Cricket Association (SCA) president Imran Hamid Khwaja.
The lawyer was elected to the prestigious ICC Board last week, becoming the latest in a string of Singaporeans who have reached the highest echelons of international sports administration.
Imran, who was Singapore‘s cricket captain in the 1970s and ’80s, was elected as associate board member, holding off the challenge of nominees from Malaysia, the Netherlands and Israel. Along with two other newly elected members from Bermuda and Kenya, his job will be to represent the 34 non-Test playing cricket countries in the ICC.
It is a great honour and privilege to serve at the highest level of cricket,’ said the 51-year-old.
‘My goal during my two-year term is to depoliticise the sport and reinstate traditional values like honesty and sportsmanship.’
Imran is part of a growing group of Singapore sports officials who have become decision-makers in international sport. No fewer than six other Singaporeans hold executive or board positions in world sport bodies.
Just what is it that makes Singapore officials tick on the world stage? Chris Chan, secretary-general of the Singapore National Olympic Council, believes it has something to do with the Republic’s famed efficiency.
‘Events like the IOC meeting here and our winning bid for the Youth Olympic Games have helped to highlight our organisational skills,’ he said. ‘When we do something, we do it well, and that is the kind of credibility money can’t buy.’
That reputation, said Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua, gave her a boost when she landed the presidency of bowling’s world governing body, Federation Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ), last year.
Phua’s counterpart in hockey, Annabel Pennefather, is also vice-president of the International Hockey Federation. Said Pennefather: ‘Maybe it’s also because we are a small country. We are viewed as more independent, and can also act as a voice for smaller nations.’
Imran was in action last week when the ICC Board met to discuss a controversial plan to ban Zimbabwe from international cricket. ICC spokesman Brian Murgatroyd said the Singaporean acquitted himself well at the meeting.
‘It was his first board meeting, but I was very impressed that he did not try to show off or try too hard,’ said Murgatroyd. ‘He listened most of the time, and when he did speak, his opinions were well-considered and sensible.’
Having gone international, officials like Imran, Phua and Pennefather can also add value to the local sports scene.
Said Ng Ser Miang, Singapore‘s International Olympic Committee executive board member: ‘They are in a privileged position, and can help to bring more world-class sports events to Singapore. As more Singaporeans join world sport federations, our collective influence will grow and this can only benefit Singapore sports as a whole.’
Singaporeans in high places (The Straits Times, 8 July 2008)
High-ranking Singaporeans in international sports organisations
President, Federation Internationale des Quilleurs
Vice-president, International Hockey Federation
Choo Wee Khiang
Executive council member, International Table Tennis Federation
Low Teo Ping
Vice-president, International Sailing Federation
Vice-president, International Federation of Bodybuilders and Fitness, Asia
Abdul Halim Kader
Secretary-general, International Sepak Takraw Federation
Imran Hamid Khwaja
Associate board member, International Cricket Council