Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and does not purport to reflect the opinions or views of WeirdKaya.
(Un)Popular Opinion | On January 11, top national shuttler Lee Zii Jia sent shockwaves across the badminton world when he announced that he would be leaving the national team and become an independent player.
In typical Malaysian fashion, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) were blindsided by Lee’s announcement and quickly descended into damage control mode. As hours ticked by, numerous rumours began to surface, including one alleging that Lee was lured by a multimillion contract from the Kuala Lumpur Racket Club (KLRC).
Any way you look at it, it’s clear that Lee is unhappy with his future at BAM and wants a way out.
More than a week later, BAM finally broke its silence over the issue and confirmed that they had received Lee’s resignation and tried persuading him to stay but it proved to be futile.
The reason? In the words of BAM president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria, “He [Lee] has stated that he is not Chong Wei, can’t stand the pressure, and wants to achieve what he wants on his own without (a life) that is constrained and regimented.”
Sounds reasonable, right? A top badminton shuttler disillusioned with his current career progression wants to be cut loose from the bureaucratic shackles that are preventing him from becoming a better player and bringing home more accolades for the country by choosing to work it out on his own.
Sadly, BAM reacted towards Lee’s “rebellion” by slapping him with a two-year ban from participating in international tournaments – an act akin to a school bully taking out his frustration on a victim who finally decided to report him to the teachers after months of relentless physical and mental abuse.
Whether or not Lee has justifiable reasons for leaving, what BAM did was excessive and uncalled for.
World No.1 player Viktor Axelsen summed it up best in a tweet following news of Lee’s ban, where he likened the fiasco to that of a worker being prevented from working elsewhere for expressing discontent and quitting the job.
Does it sound absurd to you? If yes, congratulations on being a more decent human being than those at BAM!
Throughout this rollercoaster of a drama worthy of an Oscar, BAM has shown time and time again its readiness to throw players under the bus to save face and ruthlessly damage the future of those brave enough to say, “Screw this, it’s about time I lived my own life!”
While it’s painful to see Malaysia possibly lose yet another local talent, it’s even more painful to see BAM – an association meant to nurture the next generation of players destroying the very same individuals they purport to treasure and take care of.
Perhaps it’s about time BAM did some serious soul searching too.