April 24, 2024

New Malaysia Times

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Need to keep an eye on graft in sports

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — Corruption is not a new problem in the sports sector in Malaysia as it has been around for some time, but if left unchecked can impede the development of national athletes.

Corruption in sports is not only related to abuse of association funds and using positions to get bribes, but also fixing matches and abuse of power in the decision-making process.

According to the official website of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), www.sprm.gov.my, bribes can consist of money, prizes, bonuses, votes, services, positions, wages or discounts.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports (KBS) in a written reply to Bernama on the subject, however, said corruption in sports is still under control.

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However, the ministry stressed that measures need to be taken from time to time in terms of instilling an anti-corruption culture, prevention and enforcement to ensure corruption does not become a “cancer” to national sports development.

According to KBS, as an ongoing effort, the Sports Commissioner intends to continue the Ikrar Bebas Rasuah (Corruption-Free Pledge)  programme to ensure all national sports associations are free of the scourge and also spread the message to their affiliates.

Looking at the trend in Malaysia, most of the corrupt activities involve match fixing, which usually happens when sports betting becomes widespread.

For example, in 2018, two Malaysian professional shuttlers,  Zulfadli Zulkiffli and Tan Chun Seang, were barred from taking part in any competitions for 20 and 15 years respectively by the Badminton World Federation for match-fixing.

Apart from this, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) had also once fined 17 players of the Kuala Lumpur team RM5,000 each after they pleaded guilty to involvement in a corruption scandal and fixing matches.

All of the players were only handed the fine after FAM took into consideration that they were “victims of circumstances” as a certain sponsor had a hand in pressuring them to get involved in the scandal.

Meanwhile, former Sports Commissioner Dr Wirdati Mohd Radzi, who is also a legal practitioner, echoed the same views as as KBS but also felt much more needed to be done to combat corruption in sports.

“It is likely that there are many cases that go unreported. So It is difficult to know how big the problem is.

“Associations also might not report cases due to certain reasons. Thus, I urge members (of sports associations) to come forward to help Malaysia rid this problem,” she told Bernama.

She said that what was worrying was that corruption can hamper sports development because money meant for the purpose does not reach the athletes.

Sports bodies, she said, should not be left of the hook if they were also involved in corruption.

She pointed out that if it involved sports associations, only the members could lodge reports because they were bound by the constitution of the association concerned but if it was related to the public, the public could do so with the required proof.

Wirdati also said that among the factors why there were not many complaints about corruption in sports  was a lack of awareness or exposure on the matter in the sports community.

“When we can fully educate the sports fraternity (about the bane of corruption in sports),  Insya Allah (God willing), we will be able to see change. Associations also need to be helped by lawyers or legal practitioners to bring cases to the authorities. 

“Corruption is not something to be taken lightly. Sports is also no exception,”  she said.

BERNAMA