UNIFICATION OF ANGLING ASSOCIATIONS: A SUGGESTION
UNIFICATION OF ANGLING ASSOCIATIONS: A SUGGESTION
Dato’ Abdul Hamid bin Haji Mohamad
The increase in the popularity of angling as a sport or hobby in Malaysia over the last ten years is phenomenal. I shall not guess the number of anglers, even though some people who claim to have made studies according to their own methodology, say about one million. No one really knows for sure. But, everybody agrees that the number is big.
These anglers have similar interests: fishing and things related to it.
With the anglers came the angling associations. More associations were established in the last ten years than ever before, I believe. These associations too have similar aims: everything related to fishing including organizing fishing competitions, fishing trips and fishing seminars.
Anglers also realize that to be able to fish there must be fish in the first place. So, it is quite natural that these anglers and the associations have become very concerned about the depletion of fish and destruction of their habitat. They have also become very concerned about the environment especially the waters, be it inland, on-shore or offshore.
But, until today, these associations go their separate ways. Their activities are mainly confined to organizing fishing trips for their members and holding fishing competitions annually. There is very little communication between them at association level. As a result, even the dates of the fishing competitions held by them sometimes clash with each other.
Members of these associations have similar views on many things: depletion of fish, pollution of waters, encroachment by trawlers and others. But as there is little communication between them, they are unable to come out with one voice on any subject. The authorities too are unable to communicate with them and consult them as a body representing anglers in the country.
I think it is undeniable that it is in the interest of the anglers that there should be one national body that represents anglers throughout the country.
I think there are two options. I shall discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both and give my view as to which is a better choice.
The first choice is the have one national angling association. The other is to have a federation of angling associations.
Regarding the first, the association is open for membership to all anglers in the country. That is what Persatuan Memancing Malaysia (PEMM) has done. While is a commendable effort, I see more disadvantages than advantages in such an arrangement. First, as the association is based in Kuala Lumpur, only anglers in the area are likely to become members. Anglers from outside the area will find it too far and too costly to go to Kuala Lumpur, be it to attend meetings or to participate in its activities. It is more convenient, cheaper and more advantageous for them to join associations nearer home. Furthermore, if we only have one association representing all anglers, existing associations, other than PEMM with have to be dissolved and members asked to join PEMM. That is not practical.
So, in my view, the first choice is not a good choice.
We come to the second. Under this arrangement, anglers may join existing associations nearest their homes or establish new associations. There can be as many associations as they like, the more the better. All these associations will become members of a federation of angling associations at national level, “Federation of Angling Associations of Malaysia (FAAM)” or whatever name you want to call it.
Under this arrangement, each association is a different entity with its own constitution and committee. But it will elect, say two, representatives to the Federation. Each association is free to carry on with its activities.
The Federation will not be an association of individual members like the associations. Its members are the associations. It is something like the Bar Council. Representatives of the associations sit on the council or committee, whatever it may be called. This council will be the spokesman for all the associations on national issues. It will regulate activities of the associations, for example, the dates of competitions to avoid clashes of dates, standardize rules of competitions. It will make representations to the authorities regarding fishing laws and matters relating to sports fishing. It will organize seminars on national level etc.
If this suggestion is accepted, a few things will have to be done to the existing associations. All associations will have to make provisions in their respective constitutions providing for affiliation. As far as I know existing associations do have that kind of provisions in their respective constitutions. Even if they do not have such provisions that is not a difficult amendment to make. PEMM will have to make a small sacrifice: it will have to change its name by dropping the word “Malaysia”. Otherwise there will appear to be two bodies representing Malaysia. It is up to PEMM to decide what new name it is going to have. I think that is a very small sacrifice to make. It is closer to reality, too.
Finally, let me stress that this is only an idea. I am thinking aloud, really. I welcome views from all anglers and, especially, existing associations. Hopefully, by the time we have another Malaysian Angling Seminar at the end of this year, we can have some concrete proposals. In fact, a working paper can be put up at the Seminar for discussion by the participants. That in itself, I think, is a major step in the development of sports fishing in this country.