Having been involved in badminton for 40 years, Datuk Wira Lim Teong Kiat was recently appointed honorary life vice president of the Badminton World Federation (BWF), the highest honorary position in the world body. Lim, also the deputy president of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) from 2017 to 2021, tells us more about his new role.
Options: Congratulations on your recent appointment as honorary life vice-president, the highest honorary position, of the Badminton World Federation (BWF). How did you feel when you first received the news?
Datuk Wira Lim Teong Kiat: I was overwhelmed, humbled and honoured. After all, my contribution to the sport is purely derived from passion, in the belief that sports — any sport — possess the power to unite people from all walks of life. Hence, I certainly had no expectation of anything in return. I am truly humbled by the honour.
You are also the first Malaysian to receive the honour, we believe.
My colleagues at BWF and the delegates have been most gracious. We have come a long way as an international body and we went through the challenges as a family for the sport. I’ve been with BWF as finance chairman for 12 years and I can remember the early days when we were not in a comfortable position, especially in the area of finance. The sense of togetherness we had when making difficult decisions to ensure prudent spending and such was a regular focus.
Looking back, it is the unity of the council members, the dedication of the executive committees, the professional management and staff of BWF, led by Thomas Lund, and the leadership of our past president Dr Kang Young Joong and current president Poul-Erik Hoyer Larsen, who have all contributed to BWF’s strong position today. I must also thank my colleagues at the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and the Kedah Badminton Association (KBA) for the opportunity to serve both organisations for a total of 40 years.
BAM’s confidence in me, to represent Malaysia at the world body from 2009 to 2021, is indeed an honour. Today, BAM and KBA are wonderfully led by Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria and Datuk Teoh Teng Chor respectively. Special acknowledgement must also go to all of my predecessors who paved the way and made Malaysia a force to be reckoned with in the badminton world.
How did your interest in sport, and particularly badminton, begin?
My early professional training as a chartered accountant taught me to always give back to the community whenever we can. I personally find sports to be the engine to nation-building. Sport from a young age develops discipline, sportsmanship and social skills that help the individual later on in life, even professionally. It promotes healthy living in terms of health and mental wellness and, more importantly, provides an avenue to foster national unity. When we come together in sport, we disregard race, colour and religion. We are united as a team. That has been my focus as a sport administrator, to continually provide the right platform for our athletes to participate in local, regional and world tournaments.
Kedah Badminton is proud to have showcased a few notable players from our pool of local talents and abroad. It has also actively hosted numerous local, regional and world tournaments in an effort to bring exposure to the state.
What have been some of the more memorable badminton matches for you?
The 2012 Olympics final in London between Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan. It was an epic match for Chong Wei and the nation, seeing how close we came to clinching our first gold medal.
What is your own fitness regime like?
Due to various injuries, my daily regime has been reduced to a 3-5km walk with some stretching. As a grandfather, my advice to everyone is to take care of your health and not over-aggravate your body. Moderation is always key!
Nelson Mandela was a great believer in sport possessing the power to change the world. How do you see it helping Malaysia today?
My hope is to see our youth and sport, health, education and national unity ministries come together to work out a 30-year blueprint for the country. From sport alone, we can see the positive multiplier effects for the country. I believe we have what it takes to be a great nation in all aspects, living up to our Malaysia Boleh spirit.
The recent BWF AGM was held in Bangkok, which you attended. How did it feel being able to travel again?
It certainly brought back the joy of normalcy. I am also grateful that I could connect face to face with my BWF colleagues again. Also, it means a lot being able to travel with my supportive wife Emily and sons Daniel, Andrew and Chris once more.
Where else are you planning to head to this year?
Honestly, I have no plans. This trip to Bangkok was more of an assignment than a holiday.
You are based in Alor Setar, Kedah. What would you recommend the first-time visitor see, do and eat?
You would need at least a week to experience my daily routine and, of course, the good local food — from authentic northern Malay nasi kandar to Chinese hawker fare. Our cuisine is very different from that is found in other parts of Malaysia. Kedah, if I may say so, is the best place on earth!
What are you reading right now?
Just catching up on the news and understanding what is taking shape locally and internationally is part of my daily routine.
What are you listening to right now?
Light and easy music. I have a collection of relaxing golden oldies.
Describe the perfect weekend for you.
It would be one where my wife and I enjoy a good outing with our grandchildren and have good local food.
This article first appeared on May 16, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.