Sibu’s Gregory bestowed ‘Tokoh Sukan’

Dr Gregory Hii

Dr Gregory Hii

SIBU: Prominent entrepreneur, sports personality and benefactor Dr Gregory Hii Sui Cheng added another feather to his cap when he was awarded the 2013/2014 Tokoh Sukan or Senior Sports Leadership Award during the State Sports Council Awards Night in Miri recently.

Hii is also the second person in the state to be awarded the prestigious title by the state government since the award was launched in 2011. The first recipient was the late Bala Ditta – a former javelin great for the state.

“I am indeed grateful to the state government for the award. I pledge to continue to work hard to ensure that Sarawak will remain in the forefront in its pursuit for higher glory in sports,” Gregory said in an interview with The Borneo Post.

He wasted no time in rallying athletes, officials and all involved to work hard and ensure that Sarawak regains pole position in the 2016 Sukma to be hosted by the state.

Fast-forwarding to 2016, Gregory said all eyes would be on Sarawak to deliver and win the overall title in the national games. “For three consecutive editions from 1990 to 1994, Sarawak ruled supreme,” he recalled. “Next year is the state election year and if we can lift the title, it will be the best memorable gift to the new state government.”

Gregory’s contribution to the sport fraternity was largely concentrated in volleyball and athletics.

Recently, he was elected the president of Malaysian Volleyball Association (Mava) and he also held the record for being the second Sarawakian to hold the post. The previous one was the late Tan Sri Datuk Amar Ling Beng Siew in the early 1960s.

Gregory is also deputy president of Sarawak Volleyball Association (Sava) and president of Sibu Division Amateur Athletics Association (SDAAA).

His involvement in the sports dates back to some 30 years ago, where he has given considerable financial support and sacrificed his time to upgrade development and standards.

His biggest project in enhancing sports development in the state is the Hii King Leng (HKL) Sports Scholarship Fund/HKL Top Sports Star Award which was launched by Social Development Minister Tan Sri William Mawan in 2012 with an initial grant of RM250,000.

In 2014, he incorporated it with the HKL Sports Volunteer Extraordinaire Award aimed at giving recognition to outstanding sports personalities or volunteers who had contributed substantially and significantly towards the development of sports in Sarawak

In athletics, Gregory crafted a new scheme known as ‘Cash for Record-breakers’ for the runners of Sibu Open Track & Field championship. The scheme, into its 13th edition this year, had produced superb results and SDAAA has also helped unearthed talented athletes, many of whom were to later excel as national champions.

SDAAA is acclaimed to be the only amateur athletics association in the country that offers cash rewards to champions and record-breakers.

“Sports are for everybody. Sports help to shape characters, nurture discipline and also improve the health of a person, which is translated into less need to seek medical services, hence building a more healthy society,” he explained.

He added: “Without a healthy body and an alert mind, it is difficult for anyone to contribute to the society even though they might have good qualification. As such, it is vital that more sporting events are organised to meet the demand.”

But then, Gregory admitted that it was never easy to organise sport activities as it required lots of financial support. “This is the area where the government must step in and provide all the financial logistics.”

The affable businessman suggested reviewing the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects or partner-in-sports, that has helped greatly in producing top-notch athletics over the past decades.

Gregory said this was done many years ago when successful business organizations such as publicly-listed companies would partner with various sports bodies and organizations at the national level in producing athletes.

He cited the case of CIMB Rising Star Squash Junior Circuit that had produced players of international calibre in the past years.