‘Build more facilities for sports industry to thrive’

If Ron Hogg has his way, he would build at least three more race tracks in Malaysia.

Hogg, the director of Safe Aim Mutual, said the spillover from having racing tracks will benefit the local communities, citing the Buriram International Circuit in Thailand as an example.

“The three locations would be in Penang, or perhaps Kedah. We’ve heard of plans of a circuit in Kedah for years but nothing has come out of it. We hope Pasir Gudang (Johor) will be revived and perhaps one more in Pahang or Terengganu,” said Hogg.

He said businesses among the local communities will surge as these locations will naturally become an attraction.

“Burinam was only known for its football team among the locals and was not known outside Thailand. It’s 400km away from Bangkok and is a small town, like Semenyih. Yet, after building the international circuit there, the town now has a five-star hotel and business for the locals has boomed.

“Despite having a strong football team, the spillover was not really seen. Visiting teams would come a day before their match, train and leave the day after their match. The football fans, meanwhile, would come in buses for the match and return home the same day.

“But in motorsports, teams stay for at least a week. And teams return to the track annually,” he added.

Hogg, who shared his views on The RSS with HD – Extended yesterday, said Sarawak was in a better position to build a track based on its thriving economy compared to Sabah.

“Whether we should go and race there is another story. Logistically, it costs a lot of money. It would be better if Sabah and Sarawak held their own series and the best will race in peninsula.”

Hogg acknowledged that industry players have been urging the government to provide more race tracks for over two decades. Before Sepang International Circuit opened its doors in 1999, races including MotoGP were held at the Batu Tiga Circuit in Shah Alam and Pasir Gudang. The race track in Shah Alam was sold off for development while in 2015 it was reported that the circuit in Johor would be revamped.

“Twenty years ago, we were already shouting that we need more tracks to run more races in the country. Unfortunately, the system has been such where they (authorities) build tracks but they don’t get the right consultants and we get tracks that are not approved. We’ve seen this in other sports as well.

“For football to flourish, we need more fields. So for races to happen, we need more tracks.”

While he welcomes plans of a stimulus package by the government to boost the local sports industry, he admitted money will never be enough.

“And when you decide to give money, more often than not, it is misused and abused.”

“The stimulus package is needed to ensure those who work in the industry and who work hard will benefit. Tax reliefs and tax rebates would spur the industry.”

Hogg hoped that the Malaysian Cub Prix series will resume in July, pending approval from the government.

The RSS with HD – Extended is hosted by actor Rashid Salleh and Twentytwo13 editor Haresh Deol and is aired on YouTube (The RSS) every Wednesday at 4pm. The RSS with HD, meanwhile, is aired every Sunday, also on YouTube, at 4pm.

The weekly talk shows are produced by Toucan Media and Professional Storytellers while local brand Amnig is the official apparel sponsor.