Photo above shows FIBA Asia President Sheikh Saud bin Ali Al-Thani (right) and FIBA Asia Secretary General Hagop Khajirian (left) honoring Dato Yeoh on Saturday at a gala dinner.
Photo Gallery of the Gala Dinner
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Saturday night means time for revelry in the Malaysian capital. More so, if it’s a weekend falling before one of Malaysia’s most popular festivals – Deepavali. This Saturday night was even more colorful and special with the leading figures of world basketball – comprising the FIBA family and friends from all across the globe – gathered together in Kuala Lumpur to felicitate and honor one of the doyens of international sport – Dato’ Yeoh Choo Hock.
Dato’ Yeoh relinquished the office of FIBA Asia Secretary General – the latest designation he held in a long list of pivotal, decisive and important positions in basketball administration – in April this year, following which he was accorded the status of FIBA Asia Secretary General Emeritus at the FIBA Asia Mid-term Congress in May.
The Gala dinner coincided with the meeting of the FIBA Central Board, which was attended by the leading decision makers representing FIBA’s five zones. Among them were many of Dato Yeoh’s contemporaries and colleagues of many years, who had walked shoulder to shoulder in acting as catalysts to develop basketball.
There was only admiration, adulation and adoration from all of them for the man – rightfully called the Doyen Dato’ – who brought about a systematic change and development to the very system of basketball promotion and development in Asia.
“My life has been only basketball. I can’t imagine leading a life without basketball,” an obviously emotional Dato Yeoh said at the gala.
“Basketball has been my religion. Basketball has been my God. I made some wonderful friends through basketball. I am really touched by all the praise I have received tonight.
“I am quite thrilled and excited to see all of you together. I am grateful to you all for the kind words you have said. I think my life in basketball is justified. Thank you very much for this wonderful evening,” Dato Yeoh said.
Friends, collected over a period of more than four decades of Dato Yeoh’s association and involvement in basketball, paid rich tributes to the man who, as the current FIBA Asia Secretary General and one of Dato Yeoh’s most ardent and trusted associates, Hagop Khajirian put it “steered the FIBA Asia fleet to tranquil and peaceful shores through the unexpected storms.”
“For more than 45 years of service and dedication, often forgetting his physical health, and family obligations, and sometimes even towards his immediate family members… Dato’ Yeoh succeeded to prove and emphasize the importance of contribution to the Bigger Family, the society, through dedicated tasks and actions; in his case, through basketball,” Khajirian said in a video tribute.
“We assure him, that, he has rightfully gained a warm corner in the heart of his associate assistants forever,” said Khajirian.
“Dato’ Yeoh is one of the most outstanding efficient officials in Asian sport, who served FIBA Asia and FIBA. We cannot forget his great contribution in the evolution of FIBA Asia,” said FIBA Asia President Sheikh Saud bin Ali Al-Thani.
“My simple words of appreciation seem too weak to trace the true face of Dato’ Yeoh,” Sheikh Saud adding “we always yearn for his presence and experience, in all matters, pertaining to basketball in Asia, or anywhere in the world.”
FIBA Secretary General and IOC member Patrick Baumann said: “For more than three decades, Dato’ Yeoh has led by example and from the front to help basketball develop and grow in Asia.
“Under his leadership, FIBA Asia has grown exponentially to reach the status it enjoys today, with basketball being played in every corner of the region.”
“Dato Yeoh is a very hard working person… Full of ideas, full of energy,” said Dato’ Sieh Kok Chi, Olympic Council of Malaysia Secretary General.
“He devoted his whole life for basketball. The biggest contribution he made to basketball was that he really worked hard at popularizing basketball among the various ethnic communities in Malaysia when he ran the non-Chinese basketball tournaments.
“He initiated the Basketball for Peace movement, which is quite extraordinary, because I don’t think any sport organization has done that.”
Dato Yeoh’s long time associate and one of his oldest friends, FIBA Asia treasurer Quek Hiang Chiang had this to say: “Dato’ took over the role of Secretary General in the year 1998. Ever since, basketball has developed by leaps and bounds across Asia, and that helped to create FIBA Asia’s financial stability too. Dato’s contribution to the development of Asian Basketball is certainly undoubtable.
“I think it’s worth mentioning about his attitude in life and how he treated everyone too. Dato’ Yeoh is dedicated at work and he is passionate in the pursuit of perfection. He’s been truthful and very approachable and indeed a kindhearted gentleman. Whenever you need a hand, he’ll try his best to help you and never let you down,” said Quek Hiang Chiang, whose association with Dato Yeoh dates back to the late 1960s.
“To be honest, his relinquishing from the position of FIBA Asia Secretary General is a great loss to all of us. We will miss him,” Quek Hiang Chiang said.
“Dato Yeoh was very skilful diplomat and personally a great friend,” said FIBA Sports Director Lubomir Kotleba.
“When you look at Asia the first thing that strikes you is the ethnic diversities of the different countries. I think Dato Yeoh handled a lot of sensitive situations with remarkable ability to negotiate and bring conflicting parties to the basketball court. That to me is a great achievement,” he added.
“Of course, Dato Yeoh is synonymous with basketball in Asia. There are many wonderful things that he has done to put Asia on the world map. I must say it is quite an achievement.”