In Defence of Teong Kim’s RM175K Salary

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FAM sacked Teong Kim as National Under-16 squad coach but he is still director of National Football Academy under NFDP.

Former Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin says the decision to pay former national Under-16 coach Lim Teong Kim a monthly tax-free salary of RM175,000 was fair as he had a huge reputation when he was the assistant youth trainer of Bayern Munich.

Khairy added that Teong Kim was successful in developing German internationals Thomas Muller and Tony Kroos when they were in Bayern’s youth teams.

“The salary was based on an offer to bring back Teong Kim to Malaysia to head the National Football Development Programme (NFDP).

“It is up to the current Sports Minister (Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman) to decide on Teong Kim’s contract,” said Khairy on Sunday.

Khairy said at that time, he and the National Sports Council (NSC) had already reviewed the issue of his salary as a long-term investment.

Syed Saddiq confirmed on Saturday that his ministry did not sack Teong Kim as director of the Mokhtar Dahari Academy (MDA).

However, the minister added that Teong Kim’s salary will be reviewed in accordance with the current financial situation after the ongoing AFC Under-16 Championship.

Former international Serbegeth Singh has also come to Teong Kim’s defence.

Serbegeth, known as Shebby, said the concerned parties who agreed to the terms of Teong Kim’s contract should explain the reason why he was paid a lot.

“If anyone gets a good salary, it is that they are fortunate enough to earn that high. It has nothing to do with achievements…it is a job.

Asyraf Hamzah

“Those who willingly granted his salary should be questioned on whether it was right to pay him so high based on the job designation, experience and status.

“So, we cannot blame Teong Kim if someone offered him a high salary. I do not see it as an issue,” said Serbegeth.

He also urged all parties to stop criticising the national Under-16 team for their failure in achieving the target of qualifying for next year’s Under-17 World Cup in Peru at the ongoing AFC Championship in KL.

“If this continues, it will psychologically affect the players. These young players are our future and we do not want them to be affected by criticism.

“I am surprised that our Under-16 players have been labelled as failures while many parties were urged to give former national coach Nelo Vingada time when his team failed to win a match last year.

“Time is not an essence in senior football, but some parties supported Vingada. I pity the Under-16 boys who have been at the receiving end of late.

“It is not a failure…it is a step forward. It is not a big deal that the Under-16 boys failed to qualify for the Under-17 World Cup. They still got time to improve and become better,” Serbegeth added.

A former national player also criticised Syed Saddiq for bringing up the salary of Teong Kim in criticising his performance.

Matlan Marjan, who famously donned Harimau Malaya’s stripes in the 1990s, said Lim’s salary was his right, adding that the former Bayern Munich youth coach had never forced anyone to pay him RM175,000 a month.

Izhari Ariffin

“He is a professional, and the previous administration agreed to that salary,” he told FMT.

“Now if the new administration wants to stop his services, that is their right, but it should be done in a professional manner without revealing his salary.”

Matlan said the focus should have been on the development of the youth squad and not results alone.

“The results we want to see is when they make the senior squads. Now, their development is still ongoing, so their success isn’t determined right now because they have their limitations.”

Veteran football administrator Peter Vellapan meanwhile told FMT that the problem with the sport in Malaysia was its lack of direction and leadership.

Azneal Ishak

“When there are failures, the blame game starts. Now, when we don’t qualify, there’s talk of his salary. It’s not fair,” said Vellapan, who served as AFC secretary-general for nearly three decades.

Vellapan said there was a need to revamp the entire structure of sports in the country, not just football.

He said Malaysia was not producing results or reflecting the multicultural nature of the nation despite being “a goldmine for talent”.

The first step, he said, was to “get politicians out of the picture”.

“They shouldn’t be involved at all. Then we should form a national sports restructuring committee to develop short and long-term development plans.”

He suggested that the committee include top sporting leaders from the country as well as from Germany and Japan which are known for sports management.

He said one of the “hard” questions this committee should look into was why, despite the fact that Malaysians loved sports, representation wasn’t as multiracial as before.

“This isn’t acceptable. In some team sports we see mostly one race; in other sports, it’s another race. We need to find out why this is the case and fix it.”

Former national coach B Sathianathan noted that Teong Kim has been paid well – just to teach kids.

“I don’t think anywhere else in this world is a coach paid so much for coaching an Under-16 team.

Hafiz Sohaimi

“As to whether the salary is too high or appropriate, I rather not comment on it.

“This is a subjective issue (on salary). It is not Teong Kim’s fault that he gets such a high salary.

“Maybe those responsible (in hiring Teong Kim) were very keen to get his service. So, they offered him this high salary. So we should ask them (the responsible party),” said Sathianathan

Teong Kim, a former youth coach of Bayern Munich, is estimated to get a pay of RM2.1 million a year. This is even more than the annual salary (RM1.3 mil) of Poland coach Adam Nawalka, who took his team to this year’s Russia World Cup.

Asyraf Hamzah/NST

On the failure of the national Under-16 team in the AFC age-group tournament, Sathianathan said it was embarrassing for Malaysia after having spent millions on them.

However, he said the NFDP (which has cost RM80 million), should be allowed to continue as it is a good programme with creditable KPI.

Related report: Sept 28, Syed Saddiq: Teong Kim Earns RM175K a Month