SEA Games: “While we are busy politicking, other countries have moved forward,” says Yeoh

YOUTH and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh has stood firm behind her earlier remark that the political instability in the country was to be blamed for the Malaysian athletes’ performance in the latest Southeast Asia (SEA) Games that took place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Responding to Pasir Salak MP Ahmad Fadhli Shaari, Yeoh stated that she had expected the question to be brought up in Parliament today and as such, had come ready with an explanation.

“I’m prepared because every time I speak, I come from a legal background and so I will ensure that when I speak, I have the facts to back it up,” she remarked.

The former PAS Youth chief, in a supplementary question during Minister’s Question Time this morning, cited Yeoh’s recent remarks where she said Malaysian sports had suffered the impact of political instability in the five years leading up to the 15th general election.

He went on to name Kenya, Cuba, and Palestine as among countries with known political instabilities but recorded better performance in certain sports.

“The countries that you mentioned are not among the contestants in the SEA Games,” she asserted.

“In the last four years, we changed three prime ministers and three youth and sports ministers. Since May 2013, the minister then, Khairy Jamaluddin, had 61 months to prepare for sporting events.”

In comparison, she pointed out that Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman only had 20 months of preparation time and Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican only had 18 months while Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu only had 16 months to prepare.

“In the four years, three ministers changed and each time we change, there will be changes of board members, budget, and focus,” Yeoh remarked.

The Segambut MMP further recalled an incident in 2022 in which the budget allocation for podium events was not included in Budget 2022.

As a result, the National Sports Council (NSC) is forced to reschedule programmes designed to prepare athletes for sports competitions in 2022, including the Vietnam SEA Games, Commonwealth Games, Birmingham Games, Asian Games, and Asian Games in China this year.

“The effect was, 220 athletes did not manage to continue with their training as there was no specific allocations for the senior training programme under the podium events,” she revealed.

“At the same time, NSC had to utilise internal funds to ensure that allowances and trainers’ salaries were not delayed which could affect athletes’ performance who were in the midst of their training.”

Yeoh said this situation carried on for two months from January to February 2022 and the Youth and Sports Ministry had then taken the initiative to appeal to the Cabient for an allocation for podium events.

“While we are busy politicking here, our neighbouring countries have moved forward. It’s easier for me if I place all the burden and replies on the National Sports Association but I believe that it is not a responsible move if I don’t say that the political situation in Malaysia had played a role as one of the factors,” she asserted.

“But we have to admit that in the last four years, after the Sheraton Move, the government had to carry out efforts to help the economy, education, and all were interrupted due to instability of politics.”

In what has been called the “worst-ever performance”, Malaysia brought home 34 gold medals, 45 silver medals, and 97 bronze medals and finished in seventh place in the 11-country tournament, which saw the country failing to meet its 40-gold target. – May 25, 2023


Main pic credit: Facebook/Hannah Yeoh

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