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Do we need SOP to prevent another kind of virus from weakening Malaysian sport?

COLOURFUL charts. Clear instructions. And all the proper dos and don’ts. Countless standard operating procedures (SOPs) for sports have been released over the last one year to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Youth and Sports Ministry and National Sports Council (NSC) have kept themselves busy disseminating the information to the sports community and public. But as most of us were looking to inject life back into sports, some have been quietly doing million ringgit deals.

How many know that the sports ministry have approved RM10mil for construction of a sports complex in Jeli, Kelantan, in preparation for the 2026 Malaysia Games (Sukma) this month?

They have given another RM30mil for an international-class velodrome at the same place. Jeli will be hosting cycling and petanque during the Sukma in 2026. That is 2026 – five years from now. Why focus on building these concrete structures now when there are many athletes whose incomes have been affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some professional footballers have not been paid for months. 

Will the leadership be the same when the actual construction work takes place? Who will manage the money? The Sarawak Youth and Sports Ministry have also received RM5mil, which will be channelled into 59 youth and sports associations.

Let’s hope the money will go to the right places and not to some people who are out there for their own selfish gains.The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) cashed in big during the Covid-19 season by selling their property at Taman Maluri, Cheras, for RM52mil. Why the urgency? Wouldn’t they have made more money if they had waited for the economic situation to get better. 

Is the association in the red or is there an election coming up? I don’t know. The association did say though that the money would be used to run their state-of-the- art Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) and pay up some of their creditors. 

As the government will stop funding ABM after 2021, the BAM need the money to stand on their own feet. I’m not against big spending if it’s meant to develop sport but the concern is whether every sen is put to good use. Will there be a clear SOP to show transparency? 

Will there be charts and slides to clearly indicate how and to whom the money is disbursed? And will that be made public? We hope those who have been injected with millions of ringgit to boost Malaysian sport will use the money wisely and with integrity. 

There have been several cases when people have questioned the misuse of money – but lack of evidence has seen many culprits walk free. If we can come up with clear guidelines to contain the spread of Covid-19, then we too need a transparent SOP to prevent this virus called greed. Like they say, money isn’t the root of all evil. The greed for money is.

* The writer is quite pleased with Terengganu for spending half a million a month in allowance for their Sukma athletes and coaches even during the pandemic. Now, that’s putting athletes above self.


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