Multi-million ringgit elite Podium Programme described as ‘plan destined to fail’ by experts

The Podium Programme Enhancement Committee has made damning findings which it believes have crippled the multi-million ringgit sports programme, calling it “a plan destined to fail”.

The committee, comprising veteran administrators and former athletes, submitted its report to Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican last September.

Twentytwo13 has repeatedly highlighted the need to make the findings public as it involves taxpayers’ money. However, the ministry has remained silent.

The committee spoke to 30-odd stakeholders, including coaches and elite athletes, and the findings of the report were based on feedback received. The evidence-based report is also backed by recorded conversations with those interviewed.

The report, viewed by Twentytwo13 recently, found that the elite sports programme “had a built-in deficit from the start”. The programme was launched in 2016 in an effort to win the elusive Olympic gold medal.

“Planning commenced in January 2015. Upon completion of the Podium Programme plan, the (Youth and Sports) minister requested that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) review the plan, which was duly carried out. PwC agreed with the plan but increased the quantum of the budget to allow for inflation,” the report read.

“The Planning Team then presented the plan to EPU (Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister’s Department) for approval, which was duly obtained.

“Based on EPU’s approval, the planning team requested funding from the Treasury, which was successfully obtained, albeit, for a lesser quantum.

“The Planning Team was removed in December 2015, before the start of the implementation of the Podium Programme in January 2016.”

The report added the change meant that with a reduced budget, the plan should have been reduced in scale and brought back to the EPU for approval as a Notice of Change (NOC) but “this was not done”.

“With the changes in the top management of KBS (Youth and Sports Ministry) and National Sports Institute (NSI) and the failure to carry out a formal handover briefing, the original precepts and basis of the Podium Programme Plan were lost. This loss of continuity was to prove to be a critical error going forward.

“Also, we are of the view that questions must be raised in respect of the key office holders’ competency to head NSI,” the report stated.

“As a result, the programme was put at severe risk from the outset.”

The original budget as proposed by the Planning Team was RM480 million. This was revised by PwC to RM540 million.

“When the decision was made to request funds from Treasury, Datuk Jamil Salleh (the ministry’s then secretary-general) only asked for RM380 million and said he would allocate another RM100 million from SJKAS (Skim Jawatan Kumpulan Ahli Sukan). The RM100 million was supposed to be for Podium Salaries (RM20 million per annum).

“When the changeover to the new team took place, this knowledge was lost.

“The effect of this loss of continuity was that the Podium Programme had a built-in deficit from the start,” the report added.

Other key issues that blighted the programme and which were documented in the report included:

  • Inappropriate technical and organisational leadership and management approach.
  • A distinct feel of resentment pervaded all interactions, imbuing the proceedings with a distinct note of negativity that ultimately severely undermined the programme’s staff and operative, expatriate and local.
  • Finance and human resource deficits triggered by inappropriate meddling by non-operational management and failure by newly introduced top management to address the fiscal shortfall. The programme was crippled by that unresolved fiscal shortfall, whilst struggling to operate at 61 per cent staff capacity, at best.
  • In a somewhat farcical exercise, the Podium Programme was cancelled, athletes’ allowances were cut, and support services were reduced to a shadow of their former levels only to be restored in February the following year (2019) as a result of a huge outcry by the athletes.

In salvaging what was described by the committee as “basically a sound and properly put-together programme”, the report detailed several proposals. They include:

  • Continuity in a purposeful and useful measure, especially in the short-term leading up to the Tokyo Olympics.
  • Performance sports in the long-term should include two or even three four-year Olympic cycles.
  • The programme needs to be restored to its original objective.

The committee also proposed that a management committee be set up to look into the short-term needs of the Podium Programme.

“This Committee will report directly to the minister to align, manage and enhance management of a top sports performance programme which is sustainable, athlete performance-centred, coach-led, evidence-based, driven by data and sound scientific integrity and best practices, imbued by the requisite systems, processes, culture and values for the continuing glory of our beloved nation,” the report added.

Here’s the news round-up of The News Normal today.

THIRD BODY IN SUKE CRANE INCIDENT RECOVERED

The third body trapped in last Monday’s incident at the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated Expressway (SUKE) construction site near Persiaran Alam Damai, Cheras was recovered early this morning.

Kuala Lumpur Fire and Rescue Department director Nordin Pauzi said firefighters extricated the remains of Chinese national Mu Tong Zheng who was trapped between the tracks under construction at 3.58am.

His remains were sent to the Canselor Tuanku Muhriz Hospital, Cheras, for post-mortem.

During the incident on Monday, three Chinese workers were killed while a Malaysian motorist was seriously injured after a gantry crane component at the construction site fell and crushed a vehicle.

HELICOPTER CRASH IN SUBANG AIRPORT

A helicopter with five passengers crashed shortly after take-off at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Airport in Subang Jaya at 9.25am.

Two on board the privately chartered Airbus H125 were injured but are reported to be in stablecondition while the three others were unhurt.

The Selangor Fire and Rescue Department said a team of rescuers from the Kota Anggerik station arrived at the scene at 9.47am following a distress call at 9.26am.

CLOSE TO 500K PEOPLE VACCINATED

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said as of Tuesday, 481,989 people have been vaccinated under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme since it was launched on Feb 24.

He said of the total, 430,368 people received their first dose of the vaccine while 51,621 had received the second dose.

RM5K COMPOUND FOR THOSE NABBED IN NIGHTCLUBS, PUBS

Those who breach standard operating procedures by visiting nightclubs or pubs will be slapped with an RM5,000 compound while business owners will be handed a RM25,000 compound.

The compounds are 50 per cent lower than the RM10,000 (for individuals) and RM50,000 (business operators) announced when the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 that came into force on March 11.

The Health Ministry revealed the compound fees on its social media page two days ago.

Those who pay within the first seven days will be offered a 50 per cent discount.

NSI TEAM THAT HELPED TURN LEE JII ZIA INTO A CHAMP

Right after Lee Jii Zia won the All-England Championship men’s singles title on Sunday, four National Sports Institute (NSI) personnel took a picture with him.

The picture, which was not publicised, is an acknowledgment of the roles of performance analyst Jerry Gan Wye Leong, physiotherapists Muhammad Zhariff Ismail and Rayvadee Rattanakthada, and masseur Sebah Kari in realising the historic moment.