Exclusive: Podium Program Under Microscope

A review of the Podium Program is on the cards.

It is learnt that the National Sports Council Board at its meeting on June 27 agreed on the formation of a special Task Force to review the effectiveness and administration of the program which was introduced by former Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin in 2016.

The Program came under heavy fire after the 2018 Commonwealth and Asian Games where targets were not achieved.

And the then Sports Minister Syed Saddiq , ill-advised by certain quarters, instructed for a post mortem, when a mid-term review was all that’s needed to effect changes for any needed improvement. Especially as the term of the programme in its first cycle had yet to be completed with the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics.

And the sham of a post-mortem resulted in the reins of administering the program handed to NSC from the NSI, which had presented and got the programme approved by the central agencies, given responsibility to execute it.

This resulted in many sports science experts losing their jobs and it is said that Malaysia lost some 30 sports science experts, directly involved with our top athletes in their training, with some having more than 20 years of experience. In midstream, leaving coaches and athletes flabbergasted and lost, without appropriate counter-measures or alternatives.

Though the change was made, the deliverables were not there, as seen in the 2019 SEA Games where the contingent fell short of their gold medal target.

And another post mortem was conducted, primarily to absolve NSC of any blame, shifting it to the various national sports associations, but the report has yet to see the light of day.

The most ironic scenario is that the Youth and Sports Minister Dato Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican has appointed former NSC Director General and former NSI CEO Dato Dr. Ramlan Abdul Aziz as Chairman of the Task Force to look into the Podium Program.

And it was Ramlan that was edged out of the Podium Program initially as they failed to value his knowledge, expertise and experience in high performance sports.

Both DS Reezal and Dato Ramlan were tight lipped when contacted on the formation of the Task Force, it’s Terms of Reference and composition.

“ I want a detailed study to be conducted on the Podium Program, it’s current situation, it’s future direction with a view of making changes where necessary in order for deliverables to be met,” was all DS Reezal was willing to reveal.

When it was first mooted, the Podium Program was tailor made towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with the other multi sports events such as SEA, Commonwealth and Asian Games part of the process.

A review is important given that in 2021 is the year for the SEA Games with the Asian and Commonwealth Games in 2022.

And it is hoped that independent individuals are appointed to the Task Force unlike in 2018 where it was only for one objective – to hand the reins of authority to a tried and tested, and failed regime.

Getting things right might be tough given that the Podium Program is a cash cow that NSC will not give up without a fight.

Now where is the copy of the Muralee Menon and Tan Sri Ibrahim Saad report in 2004 after the Athens Olympic debacle.

Could come handy after Tokyo 2021 as things never really changed.