Monday, June 25, 2007


Malaysia’s Datuk Punch Gunalan, the deputy president of the Badminton World Federation, the sport’s international governing body, is at the centre of allegations of a conflict of interest relating to the federation’s decision to move its headquarters from Cheltenham, England to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia two years ago.

The allegations surfaced at a dramatic BWF annual general meeting held in Glasgow last weekend, when the organisation’s president, Kang Young Joong was handed a three-year-old letter apparently implicating Punch in using his position at the international federation to pass on to the Badminton Association of Malaysia confidential information relating to rival bids to attract the international federation’s headquarters.

In a surprise move, the letter, written by Punch and addressed to the BAM’s president, was read out publicly at the AGM by Joong. It included the allegedly incriminating statement: ‘Since I am able to get all the necessary information regarding the other bids, it is important that our bid is better than any of the others.’

Malaysia was involved in a bidding war with South Korea, Switzerland and the incumbent England, with the bidders becoming embroiled in making competing offers of benefits, including tax breaks, in their attempts to lure the federation, then known as the International Badminton Federation.

Others involved in the initial stages of bidding included Singapore, USA and Mauritius, and the letter contains details of the offers contained in their bids enabling, it is said, the Malaysian bid to trump them.

For example, Singapore, the UK, USA and Mauritius were all said in the letter to be offering free office space, with Singapore offering an additional 'operational grant' of $50,000 a year for six years, the UK and USA offering unspecified operational grants and Mauritius and USA offering use of office staff.

Punch could not be contacted to respond to the allegations yesterday and today, and other BWF officials were said to be en route to Kuala Lumpur form Glasgow.

Brian Agerbak, general secretary of Badminton Europe, today told that he was awaiting a response from Joong to a request for an independent inquiry to be mounted into the allegations against Punch. There are claims that Punch could have broken the BWF’s by-laws by his actions.

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