Sports Commissioner’s Office must step up its game, says ex-OCM man Kok Chi

It has been a long-standing contention – the Sports Commissioner’s Office (SCO) is toothless and afraid to crack the whip.

From addressing conflicts within sports associations to penalising organisers for failing to adhere to the Sports Development Act, the SCO is more than just a “final destination before retirement”, as it is often viewed.

The lack of action, evident over the years, is perhaps intended to encourage sports and not be too strict which will make people shy away.

The passive-like approach, however, has resulted in the rise of conflicting sports organisations.

In setting the record straight, veteran sports administrator Datuk Sieh Kok Chi explained the SCO plays a crucial role in addressing administrative woes and wrong-doings within Malaysian sports bodies.

“Each sport belongs to its respective international federation. The athletes belong to the respective international bodies as they compete under the rules of those organisations,” said Sieh.

“The international federations are therefore the parent bodies of the respective national sports associations (NSAs).”

He added the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are merely umbrella bodies of the respective NSAs to facilitate participation in multi-sports games such as the Olympics, Asian Games and SEA Games.

“The NOCs only have shared jurisdiction over the athletes with their respective NSAs during such events. Other than that, the NOC has little power over the NSAs.

“In Malaysia, the regulating body for NSAs is the SCO, not the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM),” added the former OCM secretary.

“If an NSA is not registered with the SCO, it automatically ceases to be a member of OCM. However, some international federations act unfairly by insisting an NOC should recognise a sports association before it can be affiliated to the international body. This is ridiculous.

“Are some international federations prepared to accept illegitimate national sports associations based on the whims and fancies of the NOC who do not know much about the sport in question?” he asked.

PsST poster

As such, Sieh said that in Malaysia, only the SCO and the international federations should decide on the legitimacy of a national sports association.

“OCM should not be involved except to give its views in order to prevent politicking and vote-buying. Let OCM’s main role be on the participation in multi-sports games in a meaningful and beneficial fashion.”

He pointed out that when an NSA is deregistered, the state sports associations remain in operation.

“And these state sports associations continue to organise or take part in events except at international level.”

He added it’s time to take the SCO seriously and that the office be beefed up by those who are well-versed with the Malaysian sporting scene and the challenges often associated with it.

“The SCO must also be apolitical. Also, aggrieved parties prefer to go to the courts because they do not seem to have faith in the SCO or in arbitration.”

Given the numerous changes in the sporting scene – from better legal representation to the evolving scene online – the SCO must be proactive and on top of its game or remain a mere rubber-stamp that it seems to be comfortable with.