Nothing fills us with more pride than the success of Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong in Rio. They won silver in the women’s synchronised 10 m platform diving contest. They were unable to accumulate enough points to beat China, but they edged Canada into third place. Their performance should inspire more young Malaysians to take up diving and sports, in general.
The sportsmen who trained for Rio have put in many hours of training, foregone their favourite foods, stuck to a highly regulated regime of sleep and diet, and will probably have sacrificed their social lives.
The fruits of success are worthwhile. The Malaysian National Sports Council rewards Olympic silver medallists with a RM300,000 cash incentive and a RM3,000 pension. As other international winners know, their other rewards include lucrative sponsorship deals, for as long as they keep themselves “clean”.
Government money, intended for the furtherance of sports, tends to land in the pockets of a few officials instead of being used, in the promotion of sports in schools. Some Sports Ministry officials are more interested in building their own mini-empires, than building more sporting facilities for the nation and encouraging our young to be more active.
Last year, one of the officials from the Ministry of Sports was investigated for his role in a RM100 million corruption scandal, which was not discovered for six years. Many of our budding Olympians, have to go overseas to train. If we could plug the leakages from corruption, perhaps, our athletes could train at home, in world class facilities, which are currently not available at home.
When cyclist Azizulhasni Awan, won bronze at Rio, on 17 August, he was dismissive of the “help” offered by the Terengganu MB, Ahmad Razi Abdul Rahman. Despite his team’s application for help, from the state government, last year, to buy “Road Bikes” for training, the MB did not respond to their requests, nor did he reply to their manager’s query.
The reaction of the MB is typical of the reaction of many senior Malaysian politicians. Like vultures circling a dead or dying animal, the politicians are only interested in the athletes, after they have won.
The politicians want to bask in the limelight, of the winners. Shame on them! They should leave the sportsmen to bask in their glory, and not trade off the athletes’ success to score political points at home. The Terengganu state government is now preparing a special welcome home, for Azizulhasni.
Azizulhasni may have praised the Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, for helping him, but what about the other sportsmen, whose requests fell on deaf ears? Khairy keeps learning from news items, that his officials, continually fail the sportsmen.
When the Moto 3 rider and Perakian, Khairul Idham Pawi, won the MotoGP World Championship, in Argentina, on 3 April, the Perak state government approved a RM100,000 incentive to Khairul for his success.
There had been earlier allegations, by members of Khairul’s family, that his application for help, had been met with silence.
These sportsmens’ requests for help, appear to founder. There is no feedback on the progress of these applications, but as soon as they win, the requests are miraculously approved. Malaysian state governments have a strange way of nurturing potential talent.
Senior politicians are like vultures. They feed-off sporting celebrities. Remember the outcry that was raised, when the wives of high ranking officials flew to London to cheer badminton player,
Lee Chong Wei at the London 2012 Olympics? When Lee failed to win a gold medal, the entourage of high powered wives promptly returned to KL.
Why did they not wait to support Pandelela in her diving event. She won a bronze medal at London. The throng of high powered senior officials, nor their wives could be bothered to support her, nor wave the Malaysian flag.
Our senior politicians and their wives will probably demand ringside seats to support our sportsmen, only when they have become famous celebrities and are Datuks. Other budding sportsmen will not get a look in. That is the sad state of Malaysian officialdom’s interest in sport.
Best of luck to the rest of the Malaysian team in Rio de Janeiro.