Malaysia-Singapore Law Games
“Whoever said, ‘It’s not whether you win or lose that counts,’ probably lost”
– Martina Navratilova
In what would have been the 49th edition of the annual Bench and Bar Games (renamed the Malaysia–Singapore Law Games this year) was held in Ipoh from 28 April to 30 April 2018. Our colleagues at the Bench did not participate in this year’s variation of the Games as a result of a constitutional law kerfuffle between the Bar and the Bench from across the Tebrau Straits. As a result, the President of the Law Society of Singapore became the de facto delegation leader for the Singapore contingent this year. Unfortunately, it was like Captain America leading the Avengers to stop Thanos from getting all the Infinity Stones. It ended in a (spoiler alert for those who have yet to see the movie) bloodbath.
Day 1 – Guardians of the … Wait, What are We Guarding Again?
The Games began on a Saturday afternoon with Malaysia drawing first blood by beating Singapore 3–0 in Hockey. Traditionally, Malaysia has always been a powerhouse in this sport and the Singapore contingent had already braced itself for the defeat. What we were not ready for was the 6-1 thumping our Darts team received at the hands of the Malaysians. A large number of the Singapore contingent were still making their way to Ipoh when news that we were already down 2–0 down in the overall score at the end of the first day of competition.
However, as the participants were renewing old acquaintances and making new friends at the Welcome Reception at the Royal Ipoh Club, our ever optimistic Chairperson of our Sports Committee, Lai Foong urged the Singapore contingent to suit up and get ready for battle on Day 2.
We did not listen.
Day 2 – THor (fun): Run-ragged
Day 2 began with the cross-country runners gathering at Kledang Hill when most of the Singapore contingent were still stuffing their faces at the breakfast buffet at Weil Hotel. Three cups of Ipoh coffee and many croissants later, news trickled in that the Malaysians had done the unthinkable i.e. handed the Singapore runners an unprecedented beating at Cross-Country with a score of 151 (for Singapore) and 322 (for Malaysia). Some semblance of normalcy returned when our tennis aces narrowly beat their Malaysian counterparts 4–3 at the Meru Valley Golf Club. Team Singapore was finally on the scoreboard! Next, we received news that our keglers had been bowled over by their Malaysian opponents at Kinta City with a score of 9–4 for Bowling. Our roller coaster fortunes continued when Terk reported that our Premier Soccer boys had triumphed over the Malaysian footballers with a 2–0 victory at Anderson School. More good news followed when Moiz reported that our cricketers had secured victory by 57 runs. Malaysia was 151 for 4 and the Singaporeans responded with 208 for 5 at the Ipoh Padang. Our run of victories continued when Shu Wen chimed in with news that our Ladies Soccer team, with their unique blend of the catenaccio and gegenpressing playing style, had cruised to a 3–0 victory over their opponents at Taman Drive.
Unfortunately, that was all the good news Team Singapore received on Day 2 of the Games. The battle for supremacy in Basketball at Gunung Rapat was close across three quarters but the Malaysians, like the Golden State Warriors this year, were never troubled by our team and they began to pull away in the fourth quarter with a dazzling array of crossovers and Curry-esque perimeter shooting. The final score was 60–46 in favour of the Malaysian ballers. Pool produced some dramatic moments at the Q Max but after pulled ahead, the Malaysians never relinquished and their cue masters ran out 5–3 winners.
At the end of Day 2, the overall score was 4 points to Singapore and 6 points to Malaysia.
Day 3 – War, Infinitely
The final day of competition began with the heavens opening up. It was as if the Gods were shedding tears in what was to be a butchery in the mould of the Texas Chain Saw massacre.
It was still raining when tee time came for the golfers at the Royal Perak Club. Some of them were secretly hoping that the rain would continue so that Golf would be rained out and both them will share the points. Alas, the Gods decided to save their tears for other tragedies and the rain stopped in the late morning. Uncharacteristic for our golfers but they had to be dragged out of the clubhouse to begin their rounds. But against all odds, we managed to keep the scores close and the Malaysians scrapped through with a final score of 363 to 342. Over at the Ipoh Swimming Club, our paddlers suffered one of their worst defeats ever when they lost 5–0 at Table Tennis. Our shuttlers did not fare better when they lost 4–1 to the Malaysians. The Malaysians, after realising that we came close to beating them last year, introduced a number of former state players who were just called to the Bar, to play against us. So much so that their usual top guns were relegated to the reserves pool. Such was the depth of their squad. It was like looking at the Real Madrid’s bench at the 2018 UEFA Champions League Final. Squash suffered a similar fate at the Royal Perak Golf Club when they were trounced 4–1. At this stage, Team Singapore was aware that we had conceded the Malaysia–Singapore Law Games to our neighbours. What was left to do was damage control.
And that came in the form of the President of the Law Society of Singapore, Gregory, who decided to take matters into his own hands to try and stop the Malaysian’s victory tsunami by channelling his inner Kasparov and leading the Chess team to victory with a 3–2 score. Unfortunately, Chess was designated as an exhibition match this year and the victory did not count towards the final reckoning. Our Veteran’s Soccer team had a legitimate penalty claim in the dying moments of their match but the referee simply waved away the vehement appeals by our players before blowing for the final whistle and awarding the game to the Malaysians who ran out 1–0 victors. Volleyball saw another closely fought contest which was decided in the rubber set. The Malaysians spiked (the volleyball, not the drinks) their way to victory with a 3–2 score. In what was described as the closest Netball game ever played in these Games, Team Singapore beat the Malaysians with a score of 35–34 to bring an air of respectability to our overall points. Final score, Malaysia 12 Singapore 5.
Spirits from both camps were high when the participants made their way to Grand Ballroom at the Weil Hotel. This year, the usual highlight of the Closing Dinner i.e. the Boat Race was relegated to a footnote as the ladies from the Malaysian netball team (and one bombshell from the Badminton team) swayed and sashayed to the tune of Havana. The overwhelming consensus was that the performance was far hotter than even Camila Cabello’s music video. Some say that the performance would have been shut down if it was performed in a PAS held state. Suffice to say, it was a performance which those present will still be talking about long after Thanos snaps his fingers. And oh yes, the Malaysians broke Singapore’s stranglehold in the Boat Race by clinching victory.
An alleged wise man once said that sometimes you must lose everything to gain it again, and the regaining is the sweeter for the pain of loss. Well, Team Singapore pretty much lost everything in this year’s edition of the Games. And it sucked. Terribly. But this will serve as a wake-up call to all our players and supporters. The Games are coming to Singapore for its 50th edition and we need to regain our pride, our competitive and the Judge’s Cup. Lest we forget.
The Sports Committee of the Law Society of Singapore would like to thank all members of the legal fraternity who participated in the 2018 Law Games. Special mention must also be made to the friends, family members and supporters (special shout out to 276) of our players who shouted themselves hoarse supporting our players at the respective games. We would also like to record our thanks to all sponsors, including Platinum Sponsor – Eugene Thuraisingam LLP; Silver Sponsors – Allen & Gledhill LLP, Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP and Straits Law Practice LLC; Bronze Sponsors – Eversheds Harry Elias LLP and Tan Peng Chin LLC.
At the end of the day, the broken spirits and sore muscles will heal and become a distant memory. But the friendships and camaraderie which were forged in the cauldron of competition (and the Ipoh hor fun consumed) during these special games will forever be remembered and remain in our hearts.
Member, Sports Committee
The Law Society of Singapore
The Malaysia-Singapore Law Games has always been the highlight of our annual badminton calendar. This is especially so whenever we make our biennial pilgrimage up north, across the causeway. This time, the destination was the historical city of Ipoh.
Preparations for the Games started in usual fashion. Friendly matches were arranged in the weeks leading up, with games against Montfort alumni, ACS alumni and NUSS. Our team also had debutants this year, with the likes of Boon Tiong, Jayden and Valerie.
The games kicked off with our 1st men’s doubles – Zhirong and Melvin. Points were exchanged evenly between both sides from the get-go. However, the Malaysians had a little extra in their tank and closed off both sets strongly to win the first game.
Next up, our new pairing (ladies doubles) of Vanessa and Valerie raced off the blocks and never looked back, winning their game in two straight sets.
In the 2nd men’s doubles, Boon Tiong and Jayden both made their Games debut. Despite an aggressive start, it was always going to be an uphill task with the guile and experience possessed by their Malaysian opponents. They eventually succumbed narrowly in two sets.
With the scores now at SG 1-2 MY, our dreams hung by a thread. Our mixed doubles pair of Lisa and Xi Jing took to the court with a team’s hopes resting on their shoulders. The first two sets were neck and neck. The Malaysians won the first in a deuce, and not to be outdone, our pair took the second in a deuce as well. But alas, the final set did not follow the script – the faster and younger opponents outlasted our pair to win the deciding set, clinching the 2018 title for the Malaysians.
Our final 3rd men’s doubles pair of Daniel and Brandon fought valiantly but lost in two sets. It did little to change the overall result.
Final score: Singapore 1–4 Malaysia.
Now with the formalities over, the epicurean segment of our trip began. Ipoh, being a city known for its local delicacies, truly lived up to expectations. From hor fun to coffee, from beansprouts chicken to big-head prawns, we tried our best to sample what Ipoh had to offer within the limited time we had.
As the sun set at the end of our trip, new friendships were forged, old ones were reignited. And as the saying goes – if you can’t beat them, just enjoy their food.
Till next year!
The Singapore team descended onto the sleepy town of Ipoh with mounting anticipation and excitement to repeat its victory in the previous year. In 2017, after a long drought, the Singapore team was victorious by the skin of its teeth, much to the surprise of the Malaysian team, who confided in one of our members this year that the Singapore team’s victory in 2017 was a wake-up call for the Malaysian team to “buck up”.
This year, the Singapore team had something to prove: that we were not just a one-hit wonder.
The Games began in the morning of Sunday, 29 May 2018 at Ipoh Bowl Kinta City. There were a total of five events to be played: the team event (1 point), the singles event (4 points), the doubles event (3 points), the mixed doubles event (3 points) and the bakers event (2 points). The first team to get 7 points will win the overall Games.
Despite being armed with weeks of practice, the Singapore team was stymied by what can only be described as the one of the most deplorable lane conditions the team has ever encountered. Luck also seemed to favour the Malaysian team on its home ground, and the Malaysians quickly swept its first four points by winning the team event and all three of the men’s singles events. Meryl Koh, who returned after a long hiatus from bowling, helped Singapore win her first point by winning her singles event against Malaysia’s Siew Mun.
In the doubles event, Javier Yeo and Er Ewen scored another point for Singapore, winning their opponents by more than 100 pinfall. Unfortunately, despite the valiant fight put up by the other two pairs, Malaysia won and took another 2 points.
Going into the mixed doubles event, the score was 6:2 with Malaysia in the lead. The air was dripping with suspense. Singapore had to win all three mixed doubles event in order to have a fighting chance at victory going into the bakers event. With their hearts full of determination, the pairs of Dorothy Tay, Theodore Tan, and Teo Keng Seang, Tan Ying Wee convincingly won their events and swept 2 more points for Singapore.
The score was now 6:4, and all eyes were on Javier Yeo and Meryl Koh for the final point. Javier and Meryl had lost their first game, but unfazed, they went on to win their second game by almost 50 pinfall.
A final game was to be played to break the tie.
A flurry of activities happened, shots were thrown in succession and in a blink of an eye, after the dust settled, reality set in. The Malaysians won the third game, and clinched their final point, bringing their total score to 7. Malaysia had won.
Never one to be bogged down by our past, the Singapore team has its eyes set on the Games next year, where we will once again fight to bring the challenge trophy back to its rightful home.
The venue for this year’s cricket match against the Malaysians was the Royal Ipoh Club. It was truly a splendid looking venue but when the two captains went out for the toss, it was clear that the lush grass was going to make scoring a challenge. When Singapore won the toss, the game plan was to initially field first as most of the team had only just arrived from Singapore that morning. But after some internal pow-wow, taking into account how hot it was, Singapore decided to bat first and let the Malaysians toil in the heat.
Our openers Vijay and Ash got us off to a steady start putting on 43 runs in 8 overs before Vijay, having already hit a 6, got bowled trying to pull at short ball which allegedly did not rise much. However, the openers had done their job fending of the new ball bowlers. Moiz was next but didn’t trouble to scorers much being bowled of the gloves fending one that rose more than expected.
Next was the partnership of the day between debutant Rezza Gaznavi and Ash who put together a stand of 84 runs in just 14 overs. One any other ground, had it not been for the lush field, that stand would have been worth in excess of a 100. After the loss of Ash for a respectable contribution of 34, Rezza was joined in the middle by his father Mahmood. This is probably the first time a father and son have played together on the same BnB cricket team. The family contributed 42 runs for the 4th wicket before Rezza was caught and bowled for a fiery 63, hitting 6 sixers well over the boundary ropes, a sensible tactic in light of the slow field. After very respectable contributions from Mahmood, Senthil (who had to retire when he snapped his bicep muscle trying to hit the ball way over the road), Andrew and Leander, we finished with a formidable total of 208 in our allotted 35 overs.
After a yummy lunch break, the Malaysians came out to bat. No doubt hindsight gives one 20/20 vision but by the time Andrew finished his fiery opening spell, Malaysia were 45 for 2 wickets with Andrew finishing with figures of 18 for 1. Had there been a little more luck on his side, he would have finished with a 4 for.
However, notwithstanding the opening spell, the Singapore team had to still see off the Malaysians. With useful spells from Piyush, Natarajan, Mahmood and Moiz, the Malaysians ended with 151 runs after their allotted 35 overs. It was a resounding 57 run win for Singapore.
For the Malaysians, special mention to Rienzi who flew down from Perth to open the innings. Top scorers for them were veteran Conrad (30), young Kailash (21) and captain Nadarajah (19). On the bowling front, the stand out performer was Mark Talalla with 3 wickets for 19 runs in 7 overs. Well done Malaysia!
When the game was over with Cricket the clear winner, everyone revelled in each other’s company, duly aided by generous quantities of beer and whiskey. Later that evening, the Malaysians hosted us to an amazing Chinese meal unlike any to be found in Singapore. It is no wonder both sides look forward to the annual games, not just for the cricket which is keenly contented but to cement the friendships of old.
With 4 wins on the trot for Singapore, no doubt Malaysia will look to pull one back next year at the 50th year. Game on!
This year’s hockey match was played in the impeccable Stadium Azlan Shah. A world class stadium that frequently hosts top international teams. It was certainly a privilege to play on the magnificent pitch.
Due to various commitments, we were only able to bring 12 players up for the match in Ipoh while our Malaysian counterparts were certainly not short of players. Despite the intense heat throughout the game, we managed to run hard for one another and create several goal scoring opportunities. However, we were not able to convert our chances while the Malaysians were far more clinical and managed to score 3 goals past us. The Malaysian team were deserved winners at the end of the day but we are proud to have given them a good game despite the lack of numbers.
We will certainly be having more numbers at next year’s edition of the games and we look forward to another competitive match.
Singapore defeated Malaysia 3-0 to maintain their unbeaten streak since 1999.
Our team had a nice balance of experience and newer faces this year. While we knew that it was the familiar face of lethal striker Andrea that would concern the Malaysians, we also had newer players that could give Malaysia problems.
Thus, Andrea was played as a deep-lying striker while the other two forwards provided the goal threat on top. It worked a treat.
Singapore played our usual pressing game in Malaysia’s half from the start. The Malaysians did not expect Andrea to stay so deep and they could not afford to leave forwards Wan Yi and Vinna unattended. Our midfield, ably marshalled by captain Jolena, hassled the Malaysians non-stop. Our first half goalie, Lynn in her first Games, only touched the ball once or twice when she caught hopeful punts into our box.
Unfortunately our final passes and finishing were wayward and we did not get many shots on target until Andrea struck after 15 minutes.
From a Singapore throw-in deep in Malaysia’s half on the right, a loose ball trickled towards the box. Andrea charged through from midfield past some static defenders and slotted the ball into the bottom right corner.
More midfield pressure led to the second goal. Andrea’s tackle close to the halfway line got the ball to Vinna and Karen, who then laid the ball forward to Andrea who had continued her run towards goal. At the top of the box she chipped the ball into the far corner. First half: 2-0.
The Malaysians attacked more in the second half. Their main threat came from their right midfielder and one central midfielder. Between these two, they came closest to our box but found our strong defence led by Susan in the way.
Nevertheless Singapore was still the dominant team and Malaysia’s most dangerous moment was getting their only corner of the match. In comparison, Singapore won numerous corners at the other end.
Andrea saved her best goal for last. Jolena’s long throw led to a poor clearance that directed the ball into the box behind their defensive line. Andrea chased the ball past two defenders and without stopping the bobbling ball, blasted it into the roof of the net from a tight angle. Hat trick for Andrea.
We might have scored more in the second half. The Malaysians were lucky not to concede at least two penalties, including a blatant handball by a panicky defender after a cross into the box, and when attacking midfielder Hannah was tripped after she stole the ball and made a threatening run into the box. But the outcome was never in doubt.
Kudos to Malaysia for not playing a solely defensive game. Even when we were 3-0 up they continued trying to get a goal back. However, Singapore’s defence never wavered.
Shout outs go out to the newer faces in our team, including Siying, who was determined in defence, Lorraine who was a picture of calm in right midfield, and debutant Vanessa who was a revelation at left mid, using her speed and energy to turn defence into attack. However, the whole squad was strong and united, giving our coach a pleasant selection problem.
Wong Hur Yuin
And so the mindset of the team makes all the difference.
In the last eight years since 2010, Singapore had never won the netball games in Malaysia. We were the underdogs going to Ipoh this time around and many factors, including the size of the team, less than ideal preparations leading up to the game, and others, made the possibility of winning a distant one. But yes, it was distant, but not impossible, and the Singapore team held on to that minute possibility of winning till the final whistle.
The Singapore team started the first quarter strong and was leading by three goals at the end of the first quarter. However, it was evident that both teams were evenly matched and eager to win. At the end of the second quarter, the lead by the Singapore team went down by one. While the Singapore team maintained the lead at the end of third quarter, the Malaysian team fought back strong and scored an equalizer just a couple of minutes before the end of the last quarter. That brought the score to 34–34.
Singapore took the next center pass, brought it to the semi-circle where a shot was attempted. We missed the shot.
“Mm ba ba de
Um bum ba de
Um bu bu bum da de
Amidst the applause and cheering of the Malaysian supporters, there is no denying that, for a fleeting moment, it seemed that that was it for the Singapore team. But it was not. The Singapore team did not give up – the rebound was caught and converted into a shot. That was the last shot that was scored in the game. The whistle was blown and the game ended with a score of 35–34 to the Singapore team.
And now, we will not speak about the number of times we lost in Malaysia, but the time that we believed and won in Ipoh (until the next game in Malaysia that is). Good job, team Singapore and kudos to the Malaysian team, who took the loss in their stride and treated the Singapore team with utmost hospitality at the Closing Dinner that same night.
April 28th 2018, Gods and men (Goddesses and women too) descended on Ipoh, a small battlefield somewhere between Asgard and Mount Olympus, where succulent, heavenly food is said to be cheap, and talk even cheaper; warriors gathered quietly, but with confidence and determination for another edition of the Infinity Wars scheduled by consent to begin on 29th April at 9am. Battle began swiftly and by noon of that hot and sultry day, only determination was left in the Singapore team.
Singapore’s first pair of Chen Chee Yen and Gavin Neo were ambushed by Jason and Toi, and lost in the third set, after having won the first and lost the second. It seemed that they found our Achilles’ heel – no, it’s not Gavin – though it might have something to do with his timing, seeing that he almost missed his flight home. The ladies pair of Juthika and Joanne fought valiantly to keep up with the Malaysians, Yu Lian and Jia Min who won in straight sets. Albert and Leslie, two old warhorses unfortunately ran low on gas in the sweltering heat and were edged out by the slimmest of victories to the Malaysian pair of Derek and Ling in the veteran’s doubles.
Never before has Singapore started so badly. Only the debut pairing of Julian and Christine snatched a 6-love, 6-1 victory over a pair helmed by none other than Yeo their thunderous leader and his fair maiden Valerie. 1-3 down by half-time is but half the tale. Nearby, Singapore’s Paul Wong and Chris Yik commenced their fight with Issyam and Denning, but they very quickly found themselves down by one set and trailing 1-3 in the second. Cheerio, said the smiles the Malaysian Cheshire cats that milled around Paul and Chris’ court, “See you in Singapore, Hahaha”.
Never. Never do that to Odin. From that point, and in the bright sunshine, thunder and lightning struck. Choo Weipin and Marcus Tay whacked up a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Sarjie and Asgard (They had Asgard on their side?) bringing the overall score to 3-2 in favour of the Malaysians. That was the signal. Odin roared and Chris leaped, in fact, Chris leapt high but served low. And that worked. They raced to victory by clawing back to win 1-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Three all, overall. Only one match left. Singapore’s Xu Teng (known by many names, unknown to the wife) and Keith the Yong took on Wee and James, a pair of veteran hustlers. When all hopeful eyes turned to that match, the Malaysians had won the first set 6-3. XT took a sip of orange energy; KY licked his lips. This pair, transformed, vanquished the opponents in the second and third sets 6-3, 6-1. The Cheshire cats were gone, scattered by XT’s winning roar, heard across the universe. See you in Singapore.
History will probably record this as the most unlikely victory for Singapore, in the main, because the Malaysian opponents were tougher and more determined. The legion of coaches that cheered them on betray the fact that the Malaysians were well-trained. Their early results testify to their tremendous skill and speed. But, somewhere, somehow, something stirred in the loins (or was it heart?) of the Singapore team. At 3.35 pm, the longest battle ended with Singapore winning 4-3 overall.
The Watcher, joined by the Observer, and The All-seeing One