Tue, 15 Jan 2002

Taufik confirms move to S'pore but ready to defend Thomas Cup

Musthofid, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A "traumatized" Taufik Hidayat has confirmed he is moving to Singapore on Monday, ending his off-court dominated relationship with the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI).

"I have decided to leave Indonesia and play for Singapore," Taufik told a press conference at the Bung Karno Sports Complex in Central Jakarta.

His departure to Singapore, where he will re-join his former coach Mulyo Handoyo, appears to have rounded off all the controversies he has had with Indonesian badminton officials.

He said his allegiance with the city-state was restricted to open tournaments and that he would represent Indonesia, if called on, in major events like the SEA Games, the Asian Games and the Olympics.

Taufik also said he would be ready for Indonesia's campaign to defend the Indonesian men's Thomas Cup crown in Guangzhou, China in May.

He did not say how long he would play for the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA). He only mentioned he would be given accommodation and a monthly salary but did not specify the amount.

The SBA has planned around eight and 10 international tournaments for Taufik to play, with the All England tournament likely to be his first outing under the Singaporean flag.

Despite the smooth nature of his departure, he might face issues with the transfer fee which the PBSI has imposed on the players recently.

However, Taufik was confident it would not be a problem.

"Why should it interfere with me? They (PBSI) have made a ruling on the issue only recently while my letter of resignation was endorsed by Pak Subagyo," he said referring former PBSI chairman Subagyo Hadisiswoyo.

Subagyo was succeeded by Chairul Tanjung last November.

Taufik, 21, carved his own niche in the national scene with a number of international trophies, but his off-court affairs "tainted" his on-court achievements.

He was notoriously known for his bitter criticisms of PBSI officials, which resulted in him struggling to win a place in the national team for international duty. His fault with officials also earned him a two-year ban from two international tournaments.

He once defied the badminton body when he refused a call-up to the national training camp after he learned that Mulyo Handoyo was not on the coaching team.

He was involved in the physical assault of a spectator during a national championships last November.

Despite his frayed relationship with the PBSI and officials, he rejected ideas that his move to Singapore signified his despair.

"I'm not saying so. I'm traumatized. I was suspended and my coach was eliminated," he said. He came to the media conference with his fiancee, Deswita Maharani, a television movie celebrity.

Taufik said during his stay in Singapore he would be free to sign a contract with corporate entities on his personal name, a privilege he rarely got in Indonesia.

In Indonesia, PBSI only allows a collective contract for its players with a portion of its value going to the badminton body.