Ditaja oleh Rakyat Malaysia (Sponsored by Malaysians)

I have no interest in football, other than joining the office betting during World Cup season or reading about the off-field antics of the players. But I am compelled to write about the world’s most popular sport after coming across a letter in the Malay Mail a few days ago. The writer, who has no Astro, was asking for the timetable of the matches to be aired on RTM (free TV). But that wasn’t the thing that drew me in.

Besides providing the list of all the 24 ‘live’ and ‘delayed’ telecasts, the editor included a note about the paper’s special connection to RTM’s World Cup telecasts. It’s truly an inspiring story.

It all started with a reader’s suggestion that RTM allow the public to contribute RM1 each to pay for more ‘live’ World Cup telecasts (on top of the opening match, two semi-finals and the finals). That was in 1982, way before Astro. Eventually, over RM300,000 was collected, enough to pay for four ‘live’ telecasts. And they were aired with the phrase “Ditaja oleh Rakyat Malaysia” (sponsored by Malaysians)!

I can’t imagine the pride everyone must have felt. Imagine that. Children, students, blue-collar workers, professionals, pensioners… they all had a part in making that happen. Subsequently, the World Cups after that were sponsored by corporations because Malaysians showed what they wanted and how much they wanted it. Power to the people!

Here is the full note taken from the Malay Mail, 4 June 2010:

http://mmail.com.my/content/38636-dear-rtm-let-us-have-your-world-cup-telecasts-list#comments

Longtime readers of The Malay Mail will remember  this paper’s special connection to RTM’s World Cup telecasts. On June 14, 1982, an insurance agent named PETER TEO phoned Hotline with a suggestion that RTM allow the public to contribute RM1 each to pay for more ‘live’ World Cup telecasts. Like millions of other Malaysians, TEO had just watched RTM’s ‘live’ telecast of the World Cup 1982 opening match in the wee hours of Sunday, June 13, in which defending champion Argentina was upset 0-1 by Belgium.

RTM began ‘live’ telecasts of the World Cup from 1974, and continued this in 1978 and 1982, but up to that time soccer fans here could only expect ‘live’ telecasts of the opening match, the two semi-finals, and the finals, and would have to settle for radio and TV news announcements of the results of almost all the other matches.

TEO’s inspired suggestion was promptly published in Hotline on June 15 and it triggered a lightning-quick chain of events such that by June 19, The Malay Mail launched the unique People’s Live Telecast Fund (PLTF), after RTM had agreed to accept contributions from the rakyat to pay for more ‘live’ telecasts, on condition that some other organisation volunteered to handle the fund-raising.

PLTF’s stated aim was to collect at least RM60,000 for one ‘live’ telecast and this had to be done quickly before the World Cup 1982 ended.

Malaysians wanted more ‘live’  World Cup telecasts, and what started as a trickle of donations (only RM228 was collected on June 19) soon turned into a flood as thousands of people of all walks of life made a beeline to The Malay Mail offices (at Balai Berita in Kuala Lumpur at the time), including children who came with their piggybank savings, students, blue-collar workers, professionals and pensioners, such that the PLTF trebled to RM730 on June 20, jumped to RM5,000 on June 21, quadrupled to RM20,000 on June 22, almost doubled to RM40,000 on June 23, and shot past the initial target, to RM66,116.45 on June 24.

Each day, The Malay Mail listed the names of all new donors and the amounts they contributed, and they included our King and the Prime Minister! With funds for one ‘live’ telecast in hand, The Paper That Cares then threw a challenge to the rakyat to continue donating so that there could be two, three or even more ‘live’ telecasts. On June 25 alone, the PLTF skyrocketed by RM90,000 (thanks largely to RM50,000 from Caltex Malaysia) to bring the total to a whopping RM156,000.

Eventually, the PLTF reached past RM300,000, enough to pay for four ‘live’ World Cup 1982 telecasts, specifically on June 29 (England vs Germany, the score was a boring 0-0), July 5 (Soviet Union vs Poland, another boring 0-0), and two on July 6 (Italy vs Brazil with a thrilling 3-2 score, and England vs Spain with a boring 0-0), and after the World Cup, a fifth ‘live’ telecast of the FIFA World All-Star charity match on Aug 7, 1982 in the USA in aid of Unicef. And on those glorious nights, the pride-inducing phrase oleh “Ditaja oleh Rakyat Malaysia” (“Sponsored by the people of Malaysia”) was flashed, and verbally announced, over RTM.

Due to the intense interest shown by Malaysians for World Cup 1982, the ‘live’ telecasts of the subsequent World Cups in 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002 were all sponsored by the corporate sector and Malaysians no longer had to contribute a single sen. However, from 2006 onwards, Malaysians who wanted to watch all 64 matcheshad to subscribe to Astro.

And that’s the story of Hotline’s connection to the World Cup, and it all started with a phone call from one of you readers!

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Swee on June 9, 2010 at 2:26 am

    Thanks for a good story.

    Reply

  2. Hi, can’t wait to read your article about the workshop.

    Reply

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