He is the "Pierre de Coubertin of Asia". Chua Ah Tok, the academician who is very popular in the sports circle, was given that "title" by some directors of International Olympic Academy (IOA) for his active participation and contribution to the education side of the Olympic movement.
Ah Tok, 64, has been the Director of National Olympic Academy (NOA) Malaysia since 1994 and has helped Thailand and Cambodia set up their respective academies. Now he is in the process of setting up the NOA in Nepal.
Frenchman, Pierre de Coubertin mooted the idea to form an educational wing for the Olympic movement and this was approved at in 1949, three years after his death, and finally inaugurated on 14 Jun 1961. As of now, 140 countries have formed their own NOA's, with Malaysia having one of the most active academy in this part of the world.
Ah Tok graduated with a Master of Science degree in Education and Sports Administration from the University of New Mexico, USA. He was the Director of Sports and Lecturer of the Faculty of Education, University of Malaya (UM) for more than 20 years. He retired in 1999.
He has been a teacher, lecturer and administrator in elementary and secondary schools, Colleges and University for more than 40 years. He was also instrumental in establishing the Sports Center at UM, which became he first varsity to offer the Bachelor of Sports Science Degree in Malaysia.
After retiring from UM, he was appointed as Registrar, Office of Admissions and Records, Nilai University College in Negeri Sembilan.
The NOA of Malaysia, under the leadership of Ah Tok, has conducted 12 NOA Sessions without a break and the international body acknowledges the Malaysian Sessions are among the best and attended by participants from more than 25 countries.
As NOA Director, he initiated the Nilai University College-OCM Scholarship program, a move to enable former and current national athletes to pursue tertiary education leading to Diplomas and Degrees.
He is now a member of the prestigious International Pierre De Coubertin Committee, which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
As Chef-De-Mission to the Commonwealth Youth Games in India
Ah Tok is currently the Deputy President of Softball Association of Malaysia (SAM) and served as a member of the Football Association of Malaysia's Vetting Committee.
With this credential, Ah Tok would certainly be the best choice to lead the NOA Malaysia again, for now. However, the sports fraternity is buzzing with rumors that there are attempts to replace him with a below 50 year old candidate, a move that is puzzling because for an academic post, the criteria has always been "the older the better".
And, even if there are "succession plans" for replacing older officials, then the process should start from the oldest downward or from the highest down, a process many of us know l as leadership by example.
Officials are saying that a suggestion to that effect was made during a recent Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) meeting of elected office bearers. However there has been no official statement yet, said an official who contacted me.
The only conclusion one can make, said the official, is that Ah Tok is being made a scapegoat for the little waves that was felt during the recent elections.
"If this is how certain people react to waves, I wonder what they will do if they know of a coming tsunami next time around," said the official.
In the meantime Ah Tok is hoping that common sense will prevail and the desire to maintain status quo will be applicable to the post of National NOA Director also.