SEA Games: NSC DG on yellow card says KJ

Former Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin feels that the disruption to the programs in place attributed towards the poor outing at the recent Manila SEA Games.

And he is of the opinion that someone needs to take responsibility for the fiasco and changes made.

In a no holds barred interview with this website, Khairy who many consider one of the nations best Sports Minister said he was particularly disturbed with the statement that the success of the 2017 KL SEA Games where Malaysia won a record 145 gold medals had attributed to the dismal failure.

MS: The overall performance at Manila. Was the success of 2017 to blame as it made Athletes complacent as stated by NSC?

KJ: That’s a poor excuse. There was a solid base to build on from 2017. Not only did we win the SEA Games but we crowned six or seven world champions that year. There was a proven programme in place. Of course, we cannot beat 2017 but we should have done better. If some athletes were complacent, this should have been managed. To me this is an excuse.

MS: You agreed with Tim’s views on disruption. Care to elaborate?

KJ: The NSC and NSAs meet at the beginning of each year to decide on training and competition schedules. This is important especially when targeting games (SEA, CG, AG, OG). Once this is decided, the budget is drawn up and the coaches and athletes are briefed. Everyone sticks to the plan. Unfortunately there has been disruption this year and last. Podium was in limbo. There was no clarity on continuing with Kita Juara. You had athletes complain about having to pay their own way for training and competition. Of course this will have an effect on performance.

MS: NSA’s seem to be blamed each time we fail, but NSC never wants to take responsibility, your take on this?

KJ: Everyone must be accountable. Including the NSC. If you are just going to blame the NSAs you shouldn’t exist.

MS: Do you think the NSC Director should consider quitting or do you feel that the Director of Athlete Division should assume responsibility and move to another division since he has too much on his plate as handling NFDP?

KJ: Like I said, there must be accountability. I would say the NSC DG is on a yellow card. He has the Olympics next year to prove himself. I think he should consider a reshuffle at the NSC director level now.

MS: Setting targets, boon or bane? You miss then you get slaughtered. What’s your take on this, is it a fair KPI?

KJ: Obviously targets are needed. It justifies budgetary and resource allocation. But this gold medal target is a very narrow measure and sometimes unhelpful because everyone becomes fixated on it and ignores the sustained performance of the athlete. But it’s what the public and media want so we have to tolerate it. There are other far more important KPIs that come from sport science data that we need to monitor. But of course once you announce a gold medal target, you’re accountable and have to own it.

Footnote: Once again disclaimer. Not a paid for article. It’s pro bono