Reezal Merican: No cover-ups, no room for sexual predators

The Youth and Sports Ministry insists there will be no compromise nor protection given to any individual if they are found guilty of sexually harassing athletes.

Its minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said there shall be no cover-ups and no room for the predators.

“Such despicable harassment should not happen to any athlete. Every athlete and official deserves a safe environment at our national training centres,” said Reezal Merican.

“The ministry and the National Sports Council (NSC) will provide full support and strengthen existing platforms, making it easier for athletes and officials to come forward to report any incident to the NSC Athlete Representative Committee, NSC Sports Misconduct and Harassment Committee and the Athletes Commission under the Olympic Council of Malaysia.”

Reezal Merican was responding to ex-national swimmer Cindy Ong’s allegations of sexual harassment, which included a coach touching her breast, during her stint with the national team.

Ong also revealed to MalaysiaKini that a politician had offered her money for sex.

Another former swimmer was quoted as saying that a coach had masturbated while a teammate was pretending to sleep during a tournament in South Korea two decades ago.

“It is disturbing to read about what was experienced by Cindy Ong during her time with the national swimming team some years ago. To be honest, it made me angry and disappointed that she and other athletes had to endure such a despicable experience.

“Incidents like this can happen to anyone – officials, coaches or support staff, men or women if no actions are taken.

“I have instructed my officers and NSC to contact Cindy and provide assistance to her to lodge a police report. I assure you that the NSC will give their fullest cooperation to the police in their investigations.”

He said his ministry would continue to support initiatives to ensure that the issue of sexual harassment among athletes and future athletes can be addressed.

“Let us not normalise such disturbances without any action. We all have families, children, husbands, wives, siblings who may be vulnerable to harassment like this. It would be unacceptable if we can’t protect our loved ones.

“There is no room for this to continue to happen and to disrupt the work of our nation’s talent,” he added.