No need for sports minister, say OCM, NSC

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WITH the new government eyeing a lean and mean cabinet, this could be the time to do away with the sports minister’s post.

Responding to Twentytwo13’s article ‘Let’s have a smaller, dedicated sports ministry’, two sports leaders have gone a step further by suggesting the time is right to have a sports commission running the show instead.

One of the reasons for this call was politicians tended to focus on youth and used sports as the vehicle to target them.

“Sports should be apolitical, not used as a political agenda or to increase one’s popularity,” said Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria.

“We need someone who is passionate about sports to be the leader.”

Norza added instead of paying for a fully-staffed ministry, the commission can use staff from OCM, National Sports Council (NSC) and National Sports Institute (NSI).

“Currently, there is a lot of duplicity of work and duty (by the ministry, NSC, NSI and OCM). If we can lessen the bureaucracy and processes, it would help the athletes greatly.

“The new entity must be athlete-centric. If we give them platinum service, the athletes can focus on giving their best.”

Norza, who is also Badminton Association of Malaysia president and former NSI chairman, said there must be a clearer focus on sports science, development, coaching and high performance.

He suggested the new-look commission could include OCM, NSC and NSI members and that the entity be answerable to either the Prime Minister’s Office or the Finance Ministry.

NSC director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail echoed similar sentiments adding direct access to the finance ministry would make it easier to plan programmes.

He disagreed with those who feel the current Pakatan Harapan administration, led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, does not value sports.

“It was Dr Mahathir who started the Rakan Sukan programme in the 90s which brought corporate money into sports,” said Shapawi.

“Dr Mahathir has a lot of house cleaning to do. Let’s give him time to decide what’s best for this ministry,” he added.