This is a series of letters that appeared in The Straits Echo in the months following the formation of the Penang Chess Association. The letters illustrated the interest of the chess-playing public in the affairs of the Association and voiced their concerns regarding the direction of chess in the schools.

POSTBAG, 15 March 1972

SIR - It is most disheartening to note that the constitution of the Penang Chess Association has not made any provisions for the inclusion of student representation on its Management Committee, despite repeated clamours from student quarters pertaining to this issue.

It is an undisputed fact that the calls for the formation of this association came mainly from the students, and the Honorary Secretary, Incik Ghulam Sarwar, himself in his address at the inaugural meeting of the Penang Chess Association admitted this.

In accordance with Article IV, Clause (b) of the constitution, "associate, junior and institutional members shall have all the privileges of ordinary membership except the right to vote at General Meetings or elections of the Association or to hold office in the Management Committee of the Association."

This clause denIes all junior members (most of whom are students) voting rights, and also the rights to stand for election. Does this imply that the students (particularly those in their late teens) are not mature or responsible enough to vote or hold any post?

As a large percentage of the Association's membership will comprise students, it is not only unjustified but also most undemocratic to deprive these students of these rights. This prejudicial attitude and lack of foresight on the part of the Management Committee should be terminated in the interests of the Association.

Now since that the Penang Chess Association has been formally recognised as an independent body, it should cease to remain under the "wings" of the Penang Library and must sever all ties whatsoever with the said Library.

Though credit must be given to the Penang Library for initiating this Association, under no circumstances should the precedence be set to co-opt librarians from the Library into the Association's Management Committee. All chess literature bought with the Association's funds should be catalogued under the Association's library instead of the Penang Library.

With regard to the simultaneous display by the Malaysian Chess Champion, Mr Choo Min Wang, it should be brought to the attention of the public that it was the Penang Free School Chess Club, and not the Penang Library which took the initiative to invite Mr Choo to give a pubic demonstration. It was only through mutual agreement that a compromise was reached for the display to take place at tbe Penang Library instead of the Penang Free School.

This letter bears no accusation at any particular person, and it is my hope that due consideration will be given to the student population In the future.


POSTBAG, 3 April 1972

SIR - I would be obliged if you could kindly allow me some space in your esteemed newspaper to clarify certain points that have been raised in particular by QSS (Postbag 15th March) in connection with the Penang Chess Association.

The question of student representation on the Penang Chess Association was discussed at meetings of the Pro-tem Committee of the Association during meetings held to draft the Constitution. In view of the fact that the Association is a public body, it is only logical that full membership should be accorded to adults. The Constitution therefore provides for Junior membership for students at a concessional subscription rate of $1.00 p.a. At the same time there is nothing preventing a student above 18 years of age from applying for their adult membership at the rate of $5.00 per annum.

In view of the fact that many schools in Penang have strong chess clubs, it would be (a) impossible to select any one school to represent all students on the Management Committee, and (b) if this were done, there would obviously be agitation from other schools as student representatives on the Committee (if any) could not come from all schools. This would be extremely unhealthy and could do irreparable damage to the Association.

Taking all this into account, the Management Committee decided to insert a co-option clause in the constitution of the Association (Article VII, section 60 to allow for co-option of members of the Association (adults or juniors) into the Management Committee.

It is the intention of the Management Committee of the Penang Chess Association to develop its junior section into a powerful wing of the Association (with its own leaders) as a large percentage of the Association's members will obviously be junior members. The Committee has every intention of co-opting one or two of these leaders of the junior section, who obviously would be more likely to have the confidence of the junior members as a whole than any appointed members, onto the Management Committee.

This will serve a dual purpose: (a) enhance the development of a junior wing of the Association which could operate independently; and (b) allow for student representation on the Management Committee of the Association.

Furthermore, QSS will have noted already that student interest is already adequately represented on the Committee in the shape of the President, Inche Fang Ewe Churh, who is this year organising the Malaysian Schools Sports Council's Malaysian chess tournament for students (the tournamnent will be held in Penang), and Inche Hashim Mydin, the Deputy Chief Education Officer, Penang, who is himself keen to promote chess in schools in the State.

Students therefore can rest assured that their voices will be heard by the new Chess Association which keenly realises that it is imperative that the game be promoted among the young.

QSS next takes the Association to task for remaining under the 'wings' of the Penang Library. He goes on to say that the Association 'must sever all ties whatsoever with the said Library'. Let me stress here that the Penang Chess Association is an independent organisation and has nothing whatsoever to do with the Penang Library.

The Penang Chess Association, like many other independent organisations of a cultural and social nature, has used the Penang Library as its official address and as its meeting-place for sheer couvenience. The advantages are immediately obvious - the Association has no premises of its own, and no hope of having one in the near future, the Library is centrally situated and easily accessible, and it is able to provide the basic services the Association requires. As a mailing address it ensures continuity over the years, for Committees may come and go.

Tt has been discovered often enough in the past by other bodies that to use the address of the President or Hon Secretary often leads a body into difficulties, as Presidents and Secretaries change over the years, and therefore amendements to the Constitution become necessary every now and then. In these circumstances, therefore, there is no better choice than the Library which should ideally be the cultural centre of the State.

At the same time, allow me to stress here, as I mentioned at the Inaugural Meeting of the Penang Chess Association, that a member of the Penang Chess Association does not have to be a member of the Penang Library to use the facilities that the Library has so kindly agreed to provide for chess. On the point of chess literature, allow me to state categorically that all chess books at present available at the Penang Library belong to the Penang Library and not to the Penang Chess Association.

These have been purchased by the Library in response to demands by chess enthusiasts, of some whom played chess at the Library under the auspices of the Library's Extension Activities Sub-Committee which initiated a chess group at the Library. The Penang Chess Association is at the present moment hardly in a position to venture into the establishment of a Library in view of its very inadequate resources although the Management Committee has agreed in principle that a chess Library be set up in the near future.

QSS has taken the Management Committee of the Penang Chess Association to task for 'co-opting' the Librarian onto the Management Committee of the Association. This is gross misrepresentation, as QSS will himself have noted at the Inaugural Meeting held on 12th March. Like every other member of the Committee, Inche Thomas Samy was elected at the meeting. His proposer, Inche Tan Beng Theam, in proposing Inche Samy, gave certain reasons as to why he thought Inche Samy suitable (he need not have done this at all). There was no other nomination, and Inche Samy was elected Treasurer.

With regard to the simultaneous display by Inche Choo Min Wang, the Malaysian Chess Champion, which was held at the Penang Library on the 9th of january this year, the Penang Chess Association had nothing to do with it, as on that date the association did not exist. It was only after the display that the resolution to form a Penang Chess Association was taken, and a pro-tem committee appointed.

Inche Tan Yam San, a senior chess player in Penang, and at present a member of the Penang Chess Association's Management Committee, received a letter from Inche Choo to the effect that he would be in Penang. Inche Tan approached the Penang Library to arrange for the display and the Library's Chess Group organised the meeting.

The initiative, therefore, came from Mr Tan Yam San and not from the Penang Free School, as QSS claims. The Penang Free School may have made its own arrangements with Inche Choo. Neither the Penang Library nor the Penang Chess Association is aware of these arrangements (if there were any at all).

It is hoped this letter will clear some of the misunderstanding and misgivings about the Penang Chess Association that have been cause by letters that have appeared in the Straits Echo Postbag.

On behalf of the Association, I would like once again to commend Inche QSS and others like him for their interest in the Association and in the game of chess. It is to be wished that other members of the public will be as enthusiastic. With such enthusiasm from members, the Association certainly has a bright future.

Hon Secretary
Penang Chess Association

POSTBAG, 3 April 1972

SIR - As a regular subscriber of your esteemed daily. I have noted with great interest that several letters pertaining to Chess have been published in the Postbag. This undoubtedly reflects an increasing interest in the game exhibited by certain quarters of the public, particularly the students, and goes to show that Chess is fast acquiring popularity in this country.

All Chess authorities concerned should see to it that this suscitation of interest in Chess Is not permitted to wither away. Efforts should be organised to preserve this interest.

The recent formation of the Penang Chess Association is a tremendous boost to the game and it is hoped that the Association will be able to live up to its ideals and serve as a concrete body representing Chess interests in the State.

The activities of the PCA should not only be confined to its small circle of members but should, on the other hand, also cater for all Chess enthusiasts, irrespective of whether he or she is a member or not, in Penang as a whole.

The idea of the simultaneous display yb the Malaysion Chess Champion, Mr Choo Min Wang was a terrific one, and it is my fervent hope that more projects of such nature will be conducted by the PCA in the near future to stimulate and promote greater interest in the game.

At long last, the Malaysian Government has finally bestowed upon chess the recognition which it rightly deserves. The Penang Inter-School Chess Championships organised last year by the Han Chiang Primary School on behalf of the Ministry of Education, was undeniably a remarkably good start (three cheers for the Ministry).

An equally befitting follow-up will be to issue circulars to all educational centres advocating the introduction of 'Inter-House Chess ChampionshIps' in their respective institutions (I am referring to those which have not taken the initiative to do so).

I sincerely hope that the Vice-President of the PCA and Deputy Chief Education Officer of Penang, Incbe Hashim bin Mydin, will personally look into the feasibility of this suggestion, for I firmly believe that this will go long a way to raising the standard of play at school level. Other moves directed towards consolidatning the image of Chess and enhancing its prestige, on the part of the Malaysian Government and/or Ministry of Education, will also be greatly welcomed.

Khoo Chuan Keat

POSTBAG, 22 April 1972

SIR - Please permit me some space in your newspaper to thank the Hon Secretary of the Penang Chess Association for the explanations in Postbag of April 3 with regard to my letter.

I am happy to note that the Penang Chess Association is giving consideration to its junior members, particularly the students. The questions now are when is this move to be implmented and how is it to be achieved. To be fair to the students, this move should materialise as soon as possible.

I understand that for years now there has been a Penang Schools Chess Council. I suggest that since there is now a chess body in Penang, it is time that this Council should merge into the Association (as an autonomous group, maybe).

I am sorry to say that the Hon Secretary has misconceived some of the points in my letter. I did not mention any names apart from that of the Hon Secretary's and thus it is unfair of the Hon Secretary to come to the conclusion that I was pointing my finger at Mr Thomas Samy, the Treasurer of the Association. I was not questioning Mr Samy's election to the post of Treasurer. What I had meant to convey was that in future there might be a co-opting of librarians, and this should be prevented from happening.

I am not questioning the venue or the address of the Penang Chess Association. In fact, I agree with the Hon Secretary regarding the use of the Penang Library as it is advantageously situated. In the severing of ties, I meant that the Association should not be an activity of the Penang Library or vice versa. From what I have noticed of late, the Association has indeed stopped using the Library, and in this regard I congratulate the Association.

I am fully aware that books pertaining to chess which are at present circulating among the public belong to the Penang Library. The Penang Library is an organisation which has to cater to the general public and thus has to acquire books covering many subjects, chess being one of them.

The Association, however, is a specialist in one field, ie chess. Being that, it is only natural that anybody who wants to further his chess knowledge shduid approach the Association to consult any book or magazine. I think that the Association should take the first step in acquiring such publicatibns.

At the time of writing my first letter I was under the impression that the simultaneous display by Mr Choo Min Wang was initiated by the Penang Free School Chess Club. Since then I have been approached by the Chairman of the above club and it was only then that it came to my notice that Mr Tan Yam San was the first to approach Mr Choo. I would like to take this opportunity in tendering my apology to anybody to whom embarrassment has been caused.

My wish now is that any misunderstanding caused by my letter of March 15 will be cleared up with the above clarifications. I would also like to stress that these discussions through the Press are made without any intention of smearing the good name of the Penang Chess Association.


POSTBAG, 18 October 1972

SIR - Despite the fact that the USSR's 24-year domination of the World Chess Championships had been spectacularly and dramatically terminated by Bobby Fischer of the United States at Reykjavik, Iceland, recently, the conclusion of the 20th Chess Olympiad at Skopje, Yugoslavia, has once again proved beyond any doubt that the Russians still are undisputedly the supreme masters of the game. My heartiest congratulations go to the Soviet players for their brilliant performance.

Although the Malaysian team did not fare well, credit must be given to the Government and the Chess Association of Malaysia for being able to field a Malaysian national team to this tournament - the first ever since the initiation of the Chess Olympiad.

It is heartening to note from your report under the caption, 'Pesta to include 15 sporting events' that the MSSM Chess Championships has been included. This is indeed a most fitting climax to the introduction of inter-school chess tournaments by the Majlis Sukan Sekolah- sekolah Malaysia throughout the nation.

But this, however, does not necessarily mean that no inter-school chess tourneys had been organised in the various states prior to this move. On the contrary, as far as Penang is concerned, several inter-school chess tournaments, both International and Chinese, had been successfully organised by the Penang Schools Students Chess Council (which comprises the Chess Clubs of various Secondary Schools) annually since 1966.

All in all, the PSSCC has undertaken the organisation of a total of 10 Chess tourneys, for both sexes and varied age-groups, each year! I salute this initiative on the part of these students.

In the light of this developing interest in chess (incidentally, T.V. Malaysia should be applauded for its praiseworthy efforts in including chess in its programme) I would like to make a special suggestion to Mr Joseph Kay, official-in-charge of Chess in the Pesta Games and sports Sub-committee, and Mr Fang Ewe Churh, President of the Penang Chess Association and organiser of the recent MSSPP Chess Championships (he was also the Deputy Manager and Captain of the Malaysian team to Skopje!), to look into the feasibility of organising a Penang Open Inter-team Chess tournament in addition to the MSSM Chess Championships, which is only confined to students, and as one of the sporting events of the Pesta.

I firmly believe that if widely publicised, this tournament, probably the first of its kind, will be a resounding success.


POSTBAG, 7 November 1972

SIR - The Penang Chess Association is already nine months old but not much has been done to achieve its aims.

The PCA was able to provide its members with regular meetings on Sundays at the Penang Library and on Tuesdays at Mrs Ng Sui Cam's residence. Unfortunately, these meetings have long ceased to be a reality.

Up to now no mention has been made of any competitive matches and tournaments in Penang.

I am sure nine months is long enough for the Association to hold even its internal competitions.

In April, the President of the International Chess Federation, Professor Max Euwe was in Kuala Lumpur, and five students from Penang were selected to participate in a simultaneous match against him. However, it is seen that the PCA did not wholly have a hand in the selection of the students. The collaboration of the Ministry of Education, and even that of the Chess Association of Malaysia was needed.

The PCA also needs to look into the situations in some schools where chess is still not officially recognised as a game.

Nine months should also be long enough to incorporate student representatives in the management committee of the PCA. Recently, there has been a suggestion in the Straits Echo (Postbag of Oct 18) to the officer-in-charge of chess in the Pesta Games and Sports sub-committee, and to the President of the PCA to look into the feasibility of organising a Penang Open Inter-Team Chess Tournament. So far, no response has been received from either party.

The sports bodies of the many commercial firms can send in their own teams; the school year has just been completed and as such the students would be able to spend their holidays participating in this tournament.

As I understand it, many schools can even field a staff team. Why, even the PCA can send in a team for this tournament! I am sure that given the correct publicity, this tournament will be a great success, and thus set a precedent for others to be organised.


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