March 22, 2019: By Graham C. Lim, member of the National Press Club-Philippines
Former FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann is gone. May the Good Lord forgive all his transgressions on earth. He would have been the FIBA head for life if Divine forces had not intervened.
And yet, his subalterns remain in the seat of power and the corrupt practices by the FIBA Secretariat have not been eradicated.
It’s time for the FIBA to restore its credibility and recoup the tarnished image it has cultivated during the two-decade reign of Baumann and his lackeys.
The dictatorial approach espoused by Baumann must be discontinued, resulting in a culture of opportunism that favored its own and ostracized its critics.
According to Dato Shih Kok Shi of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, corruption has benn a continuing issue against Baumann and the FIBA Secretariat.
Many believed that the reign of intimidation and corruption would never end even with the demise of Baumann as his aging puppets like Borislav Stankovic are still around.
This is one area where the decent members of the FIBA family must stand up against. The issue of corruption cannot be just swept under the rug.
Stankovic has a lot of explaining to do. He cannot just walk the same path as Baumann undertook during his watch, treating the FIBA like a Mafia-style organization where secrecy is the norm.
A democratization of the organization is the way to go. Stankovic, a dealer of tricks during his time and the puppet that pulled the strings during Baumann’s reign, must step down immediately to give younger people an opportunity to revitalize the organization and cleanse its self of its dictatorial policies.
Greediness must be stopped, and so must vengeance stop.
Too much power had been concentrated among the stooges in the Secretariat, led by the despicable duo of Baumann and his puppet master Stankovic, in the last two decades. It was designed to intimidate the weak and enrich themselves by hooking up with the moneyed to gain control of a national federation’s marketing plans by forcing it to sing to the tune of the Secretariat’s own marketing strategies under the threat of a suspension such as in the case of Lebanon, Brazil, and Japan, notably the latter coming as it was at a time that Tokyo will be hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The same scenario applies to the case of the tradition-steeped Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP), which was kicked out by Baumann and company in 2009 in exchange for several thousands of silvers to a moneyed group with questionable integrity and credibility.
The BAP had been a FIBA member since 1936 but its recognition was withdrawn without any legal or moral basis by the tyrannical duo of Baumann and Stankovic, who acted as prosecutor and hangman in kicking out the BAP with no violations whatsoever except that the BAP had no grease money to offer in fattening their and the FIBA’s marketing coffers.
Worst, Baumann created a Memorandum of Agreement – known as the Bangkok Agreement – to trick the BAP into accepting it and then dismissing it in favor of its handpicked moneybag that is the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, a fledgling organization that until now is being subsidized by a rich businessman whose money overflows from the funds of a foreign businessman.
Because of potential marketing revenues from this group, Baumann and his lackeys sold the BAP down the river.
I hope that the respectable FIBA members with no blood in their hands initiate proposals that will result in a new FIBA structure that forbids employees like Baumann and Stankovic to take control of the organization dictatorially and allow democracy to reign among all its members in the establishment of new policies and rules.
I once ask Baumann during a meeting in Kuala Lumpur in January 2009 as to the reason why he suspended the BAP in 2005. His answer was “I made a wrong decision.” Then I told Baumann he could still rectify what wrong he did. He never did - there was no remorse on his part as it turned out. His conscience probably never bothered him and so the Good Lord eventually took him away.
It is time for the FIBA to hire a president with a vibrant outlook and revitalized by young people with brilliant minds with no strings attached to the dark-age reign of Baumann and Stankovic and guided by democratic principles that can reunite the fragmented organization that it is now.
Never again that the FIBA hierarchy be treated like a family corporation with so much power entrusted to a few people.
The new FIBA president should be elected by full membership in the forthcoming FIBA World Congress. While the position of secretary general is appointed by the newly-elected president, both personages should be accountable and answerable to all the members of the organization.
Discussions on various issues should be open to all and any policies that it has undertaken must never be shrouded in secrecy.
The Limitation to their terms of office must be instituted. No more the issuance of contract lengths as long as 12 years – such as in the case of the position of secretary general occupied by Baumann for two decades and possibly held for life by him if death did not come to claim him.
Do away with such contracts that could tempt some officials to grab absolute control of the FIBA marketing and run it like a family corporation.
For the common good of everyone, old guards like Stankovic and Bob Elphinston are obliged to join Baumann in the exit gates to allow the entry of fresh blood – young men and women with full of idealism and indisputable integrity.
Then maybe, the BAP can attain justice under the new regime. The truth behind the illegal dismissal of the BAP may be known to the general membership sans fear or favor.
The truth, after all, shall set us all free.