Isn’t it time for Malaysia to start planning for the 2027 SEA Games?

As the performance of the Malaysian contingent at the recently-concluded Cambodia SEA Games continues to dominate conversations in the country, there seems to be little talk about the Southeast Asian nation’s plans to host the 2027 edition.

While certain quarters claim it is too early to plan, senior sports administrators believe it’s only right to start the ball rolling.

Malaysia last hosted the SEA Games in 2017. Some had hoped the country’s 145 gold medals – the nation’s best-ever achievement – would be a precursor to the Barisan Nasional (BN) government winning the 2018 general election. However, BN was booted out of Putrajaya for the first time.

It is understood that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has been “informed verbally” about the matter, but there have not been any formal meetings regarding the upcoming Games.

With barely four years to go, it remains to be seen if Kuala Lumpur will again play host to the regional multi-sports Games or if they are held elsewhere.

Former Youth and Sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin in his recent podcast, Keluar Sejekap, with Shahril Hamdan, suggested the Games be in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

Options are aplenty, with some suggesting that certain events, if not the bulk, be held in Johor as a tribute to the state’s sultan.

The Johor Ruler is next in line to occupy Istana Negara, replacing Yang diPertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, whose term ends on Jan 30, 2024.

The 2027 edition would also be crucial as Anwar’s so-called “unity government”, formed after last year’s Nov 19 general election, ends its five-year reign, prompting another general election.

It remains to be seen if the government of the day will use the SEA Games to inject the feel-good factor ahead of the national polls.

However, before that, it’s best that the government, having championed transparency and accountability in the build-up to the last GE, reveal the detailed expenditure of the 2017 SEA Games.

Making the accounts public will assist in planning for the 2027 Games – if it is beneficial to build more infrastructure or to simply upgrade current facilities.

It also has to be decided if the 2027 Games will be led strictly by the government via the Youth and Sports Ministry or see the active involvement of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) – as reflected in the Road to Gold programme with the Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh and the OCM president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria being the co-chairs.

As such, serious conversations and detailed plans regarding the 2027 SEA Games must begin today.

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