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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Air Asia dumbfounded (full version)

Here's what never made print.

IT is not the national team that will represent Malaysia at the FHE Cup in Perth later this week. Hence there is nothing wrong in entering a team as ‘Malaysia Air Asia’.

Those were the words of 1 MAS Project Director Lim Chiow Chuan when asked why such a team was entered.

“We are sending a development team and I don’t see any issue with this. We arranged participation for this tournament by ourselves (1 MAS),” said Chiow Chuan.

The matter was first brought to attention by former Mailsport reporter SS Dhaliwal in his blog. There it was revealed that the 1 MAS Programme still had to fork out approximately RM200 per ticket.

According to Chiow Chuan 1 MAS had wrote to Air Asia X, the long distance arm of low cost carrier Air Asia, requesting for sponsorship. The parties came to an understanding to enter a team as the above mentioned name in return for sponsorship of travel.

“They (Air Asia) wanted a return of investment and we agreed to use Air Asia in the team name. I don’t have to go into the details of the agreement,” added Chiow Chuan.

Entry into any foreign tournament comes under the purview of the Malaysian Hockey Federation. The Sports Development Act is clear on the usage of the wording Malaysia. One cannot commercialise the country’s name as they fit.

When pointed this fact, Chiow Chuan insisted that there is no issue with this and instead drew to the attention that such practice was common among club teams in Australia.

What he failed to realise is that such teams do not use the national flag of Australia. The team entered in the FHE Cup will use the Jalur Gemilang, as shown in the tournament’s official website.

This is not the first time such a situation had occurred. The national Under-18 team was entered as ‘Malaysia Air Asia’ for the Surjit Memorial Trophy in Punjab in 2009.

The ‘Malaysia Air Asia’ team will fly to Perth tonight (Tuesday) and will play a series of matches during the three-day tournament starting from Nov 25.

Air Asia’s response.

AIR Asia Commercial Director Jasmine Lee is in the dark over any deal to sponsor the 1 MAS Programme boys for the FHE Cup in Australia later this week.

When contacted, she was surprised that ‘Malaysia Air Asia’ been used for the tournament. She wasn’t aware that a deal with 1 MAS Programme had been struck.

“I can say officially that there is no such deal. This is the first time I’m hearing of it,” said Jasmine.

“All commercial matter involving sports have to go through my department. I’ve checked with the Air Asia X branch and Group CEO’s office. No one is in the know of any sponsorship with 1 MAS.”

Jasmine also added that it is not a norm for a company’s name to be used as the team name, more so one that is representing Malaysia.

“It is only when we (Air Asia) are title sponsors that our name appears, like the Air Asia Asean Basketball League (ABL). Otherwise it is usually just the logo on the attire,” she added.

“I will have to call the Malaysian Hockey Federation and clarify the matter.”

Jasmine highlighted the fact that Air Asia sponsors the Philippines Patriots in ABL but Air Asia’s branding in not on the team name. According to her, such a move is not part of the airlines’ policy.

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