By Jugjet Singh
THERE is an eerie silence leading to the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) elections as hopefuls as well as incumbents are waiting for a clear signal before launching their campaigns.
Nominations will be sent out on Sept 23, and close on Oct 15 with the elections held on Oct 30, but till yesterday, all those who were contacted lamented on the same issue -- that there is total silence as opposed to the fierce campaigning they are used to.
The main reason, according to the officials interviewed, is that MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah himself is keeping mum.
Tengku Abdullah is the fifth MHF president, with the first being Tun Abdul Razak, followed by Sultan Azlan Shah, Raja Nazrin Shah and Admiral Tan Sri Anwar Mohammad Nor.
Raja Nazrin and Anwar only served one term each, while Tengku Abdullah was shoved into the hot seat and made it known that he will only be a temporary stop-gap-measure.
However, after serving one term, he seem to be enjoying the challenge and even spearheaded an amendment which will see him in charge for four years instead of two, as he is set to be retained unopposed.
The amendments also did away elections for secretary and treasurer, who will be appointed instead, leaving only the deputy president, and four vice-presidents posts to be decided by the ballot.
Two other vice-presidents will be nominated by Sabah and Sarawak.
However, Tengku Abdullah did not have his cabinet line-up when he won unopposed in November 2008, and those who are waiting for him to announce his favourites might just find themselves in the same boat again.
And those who were contacted said they will wait as long as possible for the president to make his stand, before throwing their weight on either hopefuls or incumbents.
Nur Azmi Ahmad is the incumbent deputy-president and he has said that he will be seeking his second term, but does not know if there will be any challengers.
He beat one-term deputy president Tunku Majid Sultan Iskandar by a 12-vote margin in the last elections, and looks good enough to brush off his challengers again, unless there is a strong lobby from the very top.
The vice-presidents voted in were Datuk Dr S.S. Cheema, Datuk Rahim Ariff, Datuk Sri Che Khalib Mohamed Noh and M. Gobinathan
Among the four, Cheema has served four terms as a veep while Gobinathan will be attempting his second term.
The sound of silence is deafening, but it is a good indicator that the affiliates and incumbents all respect their president and are waiting for his orders, unlike the previous years where only the law of the jungle applied when MHF elections were around the corner.
It also means states are more cautious and only want the best, as those elected will serve four years and not the whirl- wind two.