Malaysian badminton icon Razif Sidek hailed the late Tan Aik Mong as an honest man that held no punches when it came to work and play, calling his passing a great loss to the badminton fraternity.
Tan passed away on Sunday after losing his battle with liver cancer, aged 70.
The Penangite was a versatile force for almost a decade as a singles and doubles player with the national team from 1966 to 1975, winning the 1971 Asian Championships as a singles player.
Post-playing days, he turned to coaching and worked with the Sidek brothers in the 1980s.
1992 Thomas Cup winner Razif remembers him fondly as a jack of many trades.
"He was an honest man. He was also stern and there was no hanky panky around him. He was a practical person, and if there was something he didn’t like, he will just say it.
"He coached the national team in the 1980s in both the singles and doubles, but he focused mainly on the singles. He was a good player in his heyday, besides being great with computers. Most recently, we reacquainted when we worked together in 2013,” Razif told Stadium Astro.
Tan’s stint with the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) only lasted 18 days as he quit as their Talent Management Group director when the national body could not accommodate the changes he had planned out.
Razif, who was hired as one of Tan's assistants then, felt there was some animosity from his former coach when he left in a huff.
“Maybe he was disappointed because what he had envisioned for the national team did not happen. We didn’t speak much about that after he left.
“The last time we met after that was for dinner in his favourite seafood restaurant. Since then, we would just wish each other during the festive seasons. His death comes as a shock to all of us, and I send my condolences to his family,” Razif added.
Tributes had been pouring in for the 1970 Thomas Cup silver medalist, including from the King His Majesty Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and former Finance minister Lim Guan Eng.
The BAM also mourned his passing, and recognized his efforts for Malaysian badminton.
REST IN PEACE, AIK MONG Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) is deeply saddened by the loss of former national player, Tan Aik Mong who passed away in Subang Jaya, this evening at the age of 70. Aik Mong, the younger brother of 1966 All England champion, Tan Aik Huang, donned the national colors from 1966-1975. He was a member of the 1970 Thomas Cup squad that finished as runners-up in Kuala Lumpur. “BAM wish to express our deepest condolences to the family of the late Tan Aik Mong for the passing of someone who has done so much to BAM and Malaysian badminton. He will be missed dearly by the badminton fraternity,” said BAM President, Dato’ Sri Norza Zakaria. The thoughts of everyone at BAM are with Aik Huang, his family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time.