• The Ministry of Youth and Sports needs to take the lead in regulating running events in Malaysia

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang and Deputy Political Education Director for the DAP, on the 12th of December 2017

    The Ministry of Youth and Sports needs to take the lead in regulating running events in Malaysia

    I write this statement with a heavy heart because it is necessitated by a terrible accident which put a friend of mine, Evelyn Ang (also known as @missyblurkit among those in the running community), in the hospital after she was hit by a car in last Sunday’s Klang International Marathon 2017. As a friend and as a fellow runner, my utmost concern is for Evelyn and her family as she fights on in what will be the toughest battle of her life to date. I do not, in any way, want to politicise the events surrounding her accident. At the same time, given the many comments and opinions voiced by some in the running community and in the larger public, I feel that this is an opportune time to discuss some of the larger issues which concern the running community, including what can be done to ensure the safety of runners who participate in these races.

    1) The vast majority of running events are not approved by the Office of the Sports Commissioner

    Shortly after reports of the accident involving Evelyn and two other runners, the Sports Commissioner of Malaysia, Dato’ Zaiton Othman, issued a statement on Monday, 11th of December 2017, stating that the organizers of the Klang International Marathon did not apply for approval to her office to organize this event.[1] She cited Section 36 (1) of the Sports Development Act 1997 which states that: “A company shall not involve itself in any sporting activity or in any other activity related to sports, as may be prescribed by the Minister in the regulations, unless it is licensed to do so by the Commissioner” (see Figure 1 below). The Minister for Youth and Sports, Brigadier General Khairy Jamaluddin, also cited the same section of the Act when he was reported to have recommended that legal action be taken against the organizers of the Klang International Marathon 2017.[2]

    Figure 1: Section 36 of the Sports Development Act 1997

    But what the Sports Commissioner as well as the Minister failed to disclose is that the vast majority of races in Malaysia are NOT approved by the Office of the Sports Commissioner. For most runs in Malaysia, the race organizer only has to obtain permission from the local authority e.g. DBKL or MBPJ, the venue owner e.g. MAEPS in Serdang and the traffic police. Hardly any race organizers I know ask for permission from the Office of the Sports Commissioner. The police and the local authorities also don’t require the race organizers to have permission from the Office of the Sports Commissioner.

    If the Klang International Marathon is an illegal race because it was not approved by the Office of the Sports Commissioner, then almost all other races in Malaysia would be considered illegal including ultramarathons, trail runs, charity runs, fun runs, tower runs as well as cycling events.

    2) “International” events have to be approved by the Minister of Youth and Sports

    Where the organizers may have gotten themselves into more trouble is by calling their event an “International” event.

    According to Section 33 of the Sports Development Act 1997, “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.” (See Figure 2 below) The purpose of this law is to ensure that there is government support and sanction for international level sporting events but its meaning has been expanded to include events with the word “International” in it.

    Figure 2: Section 33 of the Sports Development Act 1997

    The definition of what an “international” competition constitutes needs to be clarified. If there are participants from more than one country in a run, is that sufficient for an event to call itself an “International” event? If an event does not have the word “International” in it but expects mass participation from other countries as was the case for the Malaysian Marathon, does it fall into the definition of an international competition?

    3) Just because a running event is organized by a Government Ministry or Department, including the Ministry of Youth and Sports, does not mean that proper standards and guidelines are followed

    Many in the running community can still remember the inaugural Malaysian Marathon that was supposed to be held on the 1st of October, 2017. This race was supposed to attract 5,000 runners from China in addition to Malaysian runners. The organizers of this event included the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, DBKL and Wisdom Sports and was sanctioned by the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) and supported by a whole host of government agencies and departments (See Figure 3 below). Despite all this government support, this race was cancelled in the end because the organizer, Wisdom Sports, could not deliver on its promise to attract 5,000 runners from China to participate in this event. (All participants who had signed up for this event had their registration fees fully refunded but not their flight or other travel expenses that had already been incurred.)

    Figure 3: The list of organizers and sponsors for the 2017 Malaysian Marathon which was subsequently cancelled

    Even though this event was sanctioned by the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF), the actual race route (42km, 21km and 10km) was not announced when this race was open for registration. In fact, the route was never announced which makes one wonder how the MAF could have ‘sanctioned’ this race without knowing the race route and hence, the procedures which were needed to ensure the safety of the runners.

    Other government sponsored events which were cancelled includes the 2015 HRDF Half Marathon (for which participants still have not been reimbursed)[3] and 2016 Melaka International Century Ride which was supported by the Melaka state government and cancelled 5 days before the event was supposed to take place.[4]

    4) The Office of the Sports Commissioner has no expertise in determining or ensuring the quality of a running event including the safety standards

    While the law states that the approval for running events is supposed to be given by the Office of the Sports Commissioner, in reality, this office does not have the expertise or capacity to evaluate if a race organizer is up to the mark in terms of their ability to organize a safe and high-quality race. The Sports Commissioner will turn to the sporting body that oversees that sport to seek their recommendation on whether to approve an event or not. In the case of running events, the relevant body is the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF). The MAF itself, as far as I know, is not a race organizer. They provide technical advice and assistance to race organizers on details such as the suitability of a race route, runners’ safety, water stations, runners’ timing and so on. Ideally, the MAF should provide guidelines and standards for race organizers to follow in order to ensure a high-quality race. Sadly, the MAF does not have a website or an active facebook page so we do not know if such guidelines exist and whether or not they are provided to race organizers.

    This being the case, one wonders how the Office of the Sports Commissioner can decide on whether or not to follow the recommendation of the MAF in approving a particular race.

    5) Runners must know the cost of any regulation imposed by the Ministry or the Office of the Sports Commissioner

    There has been some discussion that it should be made mandatory for race organizers to pay a certain fee to the MAF as part of the process of regulating races in Malaysia in order to ensure high-quality races (including non-cancellations and proper safety standards). These costs, if imposed, will likely be passed on to the consumer i.e. the runners. Race organizers and ultimately, runners, must know how the extra charges and fees imposed will be spent by an organization such as the MAF and how this regulation can ensure that high-quality events will be organized. For example, will part of the fee go into training sessions organized by the MAF for race organizers? Will part of the fee go to MAF to help them develop the athletics scene in Malaysia? All these issues need to be discussed and then made known in a transparent manner.

    6) Section 36 of the Sports Development Act 1997 is too general and too vague

    One of the challenges faced by the Ministry of Youth and Sports is that the aforementioned Section 36, which requires the approval of the Office of the Sports Commissioner for a company to organize any and all sporting events, is too broad, too general, too vague and too impractical. For example, if I have a company which wants to organize a 3-on-3 basketball competition in my residential area (with participation fees and cash prizes), do I need to seek the approval of the Office of the Sports Commissioner? If every sporting event which is organized by a company needs this approval, the Office of the Sports Commissioner will be inundated with applications on a daily basis. Such a requirement may also increase the incentives for corruption and bribery in order to get approval for events.

    For running events in particular, if it was a sports club such as Pacesetters Malaysia, and not a company, which wants to organize a local race, is permission from the Office of the Sports Commissioner still required? How about for an NGO who wants to organize a local charity run? What if a company was co-organizing an event together with a local authority, state government or federal government ministry? The current legislation is unclear on how to answer these questions definitively.

    7) The Ministry of Youth and Sports needs to engage in an extensive stakeholder consultation before amending the Sports Development Act

    As I’ve shown above, the issues regarding the regulation of running events in Malaysia are complex and multi-faceted. It is unfortunate that it required a serious accident to befall a runner in a so-called “International” race to capture the attention of the Sports Commissioner and the Minister of Youth and Sports. I have raised the issue on whether there is the need to have a special body to oversee racing events in Malaysia in parliament. I have brought up the role of the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Sports Commissioner in cancelled events such as the Malaysian Marathon.[5] I have passed the results of a survey I did among Malaysian runners which touch on some of these issues to Minister Khairy via his deputy, Datuk M. Saravanan, in parliament.[6]

    What is needed at this juncture is for the Minister to have an extensive stakeholder consultation with race organizers, running clubs, the state and national athletics federations, the local authorities, the police, RELA officers and other influencers in the running community to decide on the best course of action (including relevant amendments to the Sports Development Act) to improve the quality of running events in Malaysia. Special attention needs to be paid to running as well as cycling events because the number of such events have exploded over the past 5 years or so and these events involve thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of participants.

    What I hope WON’T happen is a knee jerk reaction such as forcing all running events which are to be held in the next few weeks or months to obtain approval in an arbitrary manner from the Office of the Sports Commissioner. Let us have an honest, open and fruitful discussion on how to improve the quality of running events in Malaysia so that we can minimize the chances of another such tragic accident from happening again.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.jomkitalari.com/kenyataan-media-pesuruhjaya-sukan-tentang-kemalangan-di-klang-city-international-marathon/

    [2] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/putrajaya-calls-for-criminal-probe-of-klang-marathon-organisers#GOgUltJ3BskolDSK.97

    [3] https://www.facebook.com/pg/HRDF-Half-Marathon-2015-819245831478966/posts/?ref=page_internal

    [4] https://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/10/183392/cyclists-fume-after-organisers-cancel-melaka-intl-century-ride-last-minute

    [5] http://ongkianming.com/2017/09/09/media-statement-did-the-minister-of-youth-and-sports-khairy-jamaluddin-give-approval-for-the-organizing-of-the-recently-cancelled-malaysia-marathon/

    [6] http://ongkianming.com/2017/08/01/media-statement-the-ministry-of-youth-and-sports-needs-to-do-more-to-improve-the-quality-of-running-events-in-malaysia/

  • 下届大选国阵一旦继续掌权,则必然会再度调高高速公路收费率。

    (2017年11月28日)沙登区国会议员兼行动党政治教育局副主任王建民博士的媒体文告

    下届大选国阵一旦继续掌权,则必然会再度调高高速公路收费率。

    如果大家还记得的话,国阵2013年在第13大选的竞选宣言中许诺,逐步降低同城高速公路的收费。既然同城高速公路主要设在巴生谷(雪隆)一带,民众难免期待,主要的同城高速公路如,隆布大道(MEX)、加影外环大道(SILK)、新街场大道( BESRAYA)、白蒲大道(LDP)和西部疏散大道(SPRINT)将降低收费。

    图表一:国阵2013年在第13大选的竞选宣言中许诺“逐步降低同城高速公路的收费”。

    但大选两年半后,国阵政府违反其竞选宣言,允许18个高速公路的收费调高20仙至2令吉30仙。[1] 举个例子,隆布大道通往布城的收费从2令吉50仙提高至3令吉30仙、白蒲大道的收费从1令吉60仙调高50仙至2令吉10仙、鹅唛的加叻大道(Karak Highway)收费则从5令吉调高1令吉至6令吉。在我的选区,新街场大道的收费从1令吉30仙提高70仙至2令吉,加影外环大道则提高80仙。从1令吉变成1令吉80仙。

    如果国阵成功在第14届大选后继续掌权,情况会如何呢?几乎可以保证,国阵选后至少会允许一轮的涨价。毕竟,许多高速公路已经延后调涨收费,包括南北大道公司(PLUS)的所有收费站,即南北大道(NSE)、新巴生河流域大道(NKVE)、第二中环接大道(ELITE)、东海岸大道(LPT)和沙亚南大道(KESAS)。许多大道,包括白蒲大道也没有根据特许经营合约调高收费。在这段期间,政府必须要缴付赔偿。

    数据二:20151012日巴生谷(雪隆)一带的过路费调涨

    考虑到目前面对的财务压力,政府不怎么可能会继续赔偿,意味过路费高涨将势在必行。但究竟会涨多少呢?根据特许合约,南北大道公司旗下的收费站原本应该在2016年调涨5%,但最终没落实。根据媒体报导,该公司允许每3年提高收费5%。若把2016年的涨幅纳入2019年的预算涨幅,南北大道公司旗下的大道收费将调高10%。举个例子,从八打灵再也的白沙罗收费站到槟城爪夷收费站的单程收费,将从40令吉50仙提高4令吉5仙至44令吉55仙,而从吉隆坡新街场收费站到新山士古来的单程收费则将调高4令吉13仙,而从41令吉30仙增至45令吉43仙。此外,从吉隆坡国际机场的第二中环接大道到大使路的单程路费,将从9令吉10仙增加91仙至10令吉1仙;而从白沙罗新巴生河流域大道到实达阿南的单程路费将提高27仙,从2令吉70仙变成2令吉97仙。

    沙亚南大道的3个收费站估计将分别从2令吉涨至2令吉50仙、蕉赖—加影大道(蕉赖9里和蕉赖11里的收费站)的收费将从1令吉30仙涨至1令吉80仙、蒲種的白蒲大道收费将从2令10仙提高至3令吉10仙、安邦高架大道(AKLEH)的路费则从2令吉50仙涨至3令吉50仙。不仅如此,西部疏散大道的白沙罗、班底和武吉加拉收费站也将分别调高收费,即从2令吉提高至2令吉50仙、2令吉50仙涨至3令吉50仙及3令吉提高至5令吉。牙直利大道(GUTHRIE highway)的收费预计从1令吉90仙提高至2令吉60仙。加叻大道的鹅唛站收费将从6令吉提高至8令吉,文冬的收费会从3令吉50仙涨至5令吉。

    图表一:若国阵赢了第14届大选,收费站过路费预计的调涨[2]

    Highway Name Toll Plaza Current (Nov 2017) Post GE14 # Increase Post GE14 % Increase Post GE14
    North South Highway (NSE) Damansara to JAWI (PJ to Penang) 40.5 42.53 to 44.55 2.03 to 4.05 5% to 10%
    North South Highway (NSE) Sungai Besi to Skudai (KL to JB) 41.3 43.37 to 45.43 2.07 to 4.13 5% to 10%
    NKVE Damansara to Setia Alam 2.7 2.84 to 2.97 0.14 to 0.27 5% to 10%
    ELITE KLIA to Jalan Duta 9.1 9.56 to 10.01 0.46 to 0.91 5% to 10%
    KESAS Awan Besar, Sunway & Kota Kemuning 2 2.5 0.5 25%
    Cheras-Kajang Cheras Batu 9 & Cheras Batu 11 1.3 1.8 0.5 38%
    BESRAYA Sungai Besi 2 2.2 0.2 10%
    NPE PJS2 1 2.3 1.3 130%
    LDP Puchong 2.10 3.10 1 48%
    AKLEH 2.5 3.5 1 40%
    SPRINT Plaza Damansara 2 2.5 0.5 25%
    Plaza Pantai 2.5 3.5 1 40%
    Bukit Kiara 3 5 2 67%
    GUTHRIE 1.9 2.6 0.7 37%
    New North Klang Straits Bypass (NNKSB) Kapar Toll 2.7 3.1 0.4 15%
    Bukit Raja Toll (Kapar Bound) 1.6 2.1 0.5 31%
    Bukit Raja Toll (Kport Klang Bound) 0.6 0.8 0.2 33%
    KARAK Gombak 6 8 2 33%
    Bentong 3.5 5 1.5 43%

    与其投选一个会提高大马人生活成本的政府,选民应支持承诺按照特许合约条款接管大道及废除收费的希盟。国阵政府已经证明,他们愿意接管亏损的大道,如柔佛东部疏散大道(EDL),但却继续支付数十亿令吉的赔偿给赚钱的特许经营公司,如白蒲大道。这是另一个把私人公司的亏损公有化(政府接管),但把盈利私有化的铁证。而唯一可以阻止的方法是,在第14届大选换掉联邦政府。

    [1] https://paultan.org/2015/10/12/12-highways-get-toll-rate-hike-highest-at-rm1-10/

    [2] The information in Table 1 is based on the concession agreements that was accessed at the library of the Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA) / Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia (LLM). The toll concession agreements for MEX, LKSA, LEKAS, DUKE, LATAR and SKVE were not available for public viewing.

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