SQUASH: Hallmark of trickery

As published in Mailsport on Dec 6

Comment by Graig Nunis

PETALING JAYA — The old saying “it is all fun and games until someone gets hurt” holds true for the Women’s World Squash Championship.

The attempt by Hallmark Events Group to “blackmail” the sports ministry into giving them RM3.5 million for “security arrangements” is a prime example of how badly we need a strong sports commissioner to uphold the Sports Development Act 1997.

Hallmark cited security reasons for postponing the Dec 11-18 tournament but in an email reply to Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, they had admitted they do not have enough funding.
Khairy said the organisers told him: “We can still organise this next week if you give us RM3.5 million for private security arrangements.”

Khairy rightly shut them up, saying: “I don’t appreciate being blackmailed, especially after they had used security as an excuse and painted Malaysia in bad light when they admitted they had decided to postpone the event due to a lack of sponsorship.

“They’ve asked the government for sponsorship, but we couldn’t comply because of budgetary reasons and it’s not our responsibility. This is the world championship and the organisers are supposed to find the money.”

How many times in the past have Mailsport spoken out against irresponsible organisers who ignore procedures when bidding to host an international tournament in Malaysia?

How many times have we warned it could lead to Malaysia’s good name being tainted if the organisers do not have capabilities to run a tournament?

Companies, working hand in hand with national sports associations (NSA), go ahead with their bids with blatant disregard for the Sports Development Act, which states “no person shall bid to host any international sports competition or event in Malaysia without the prior approval in writing of the Minister whose decision thereon shall be final.”

But, despite breaking the law, sports commissioners — past and present — easily sign off on licences, even on the eve of a tournament, as happened two days before the 2011 Sime Darby LPGA.
This year, the Kuala Lumpur City GP organisers did not even bother getting approval until Malay Mail brought up the issue. They were given a licence a week before the race.

This set a bad precedent and now it appears it is so easy to set up a company, whisper in the ears of influential people to bid for sports events and everything will be fine.

When they are unable to fulfil their financial obligation they turn to the government, hoping for handouts.

Think the Asian Rugby Championship in May when the sports ministry stepped in to save the Malaysia Rugby Union.

Clearly, the sports ministry must also shoulder some of the blame as they had bailed out several NSAs that had failed to raise enough funds for their meets — with taxpayers’ money.

It is time to act, time to punish organisers who do as they please.

The Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has ordered his men to get in touch with Hallmark “to find out what they meant by security threat”.

Good move Khalid.

We must be firm in dealing against event organisers who take the country for a ride.


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