• Sustaining Malaysia’s SEA Games performance

    (This article can also be read at the Penang Institute in KL Column in the Malaysian Insight, 2nd Sept 2017)

    AT the time of writing, Malaysia was leading the 29th SEA Games medal standings with 140 gold, 91 silver and 84 bronze. We have twice as many gold medals as second-placed Thailand. We demolished our previous record of 111 gold medals, achieved during our last hosting of the SEA Games in 2001.

    This is an incredible performance and our athletes should be applauded for their efforts. But is this sporting achievement sustainable? Can our athletes go further and compete at the Asian and for some, the international level?

    These days, sports is more an industry instead of the supposedly amateur undertaking it was pre-1990s. Beyond talent identification, there is now a whole other universe that includes financing, training and coaching, nutrition and competitions, just to name a few.

    The public obviously looks to the government, specifically the Ministry of Youth and Sports, to chart the course for sports development in the country. In a small country like Malaysia, government funding for sports is essential especially when it comes to supporting our athletes with the greatest potential.

    The ‘Kita Juara’ (We are Champions) programme was launched in 2015 with this specific purpose in mind. Chosen athletes are given resources and greater opportunities to compete at the international level. This was part of a long-term process to produce global champions beyond just the SEA Games.

    But government resources are limited. Even UK Sport, the UK government’s organisation for directing sports development, was forced to make serious funding cuts for sports such as badminton, archery, fencing and weightlifting because of the lack of potential to win medals in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, despite receiving a massive £347 million from National Lottery proceeds.

    This is where the various sports associations at the federal and state levels have an important role to play. Most people are not aware of the tremendous power wielded by these sports associations. In certain respects, they wield more power than the minister. For example, they hold the power to select those athletes who will represent the country, as well as providing the funding for selected athletes to compete in overseas competitions and be trained by national coaches.

    The presidents of these sports associations are usually politicians and/or businessmen. Presidents who are businessmen are expected to fund some of the operational costs of running the sports associations while politicians are expected to raise the necessary financing through their connections. Post-SEA Games, these sports associations still have to find the money to fund their activities and to develop their athletes.

    Every sport has different levels of public support. Apart from the football and perhaps badminton associations, whose sports already enjoy great public attention, the rest of the sports associations could do more to promote their own sport.

    The level of public support affects the ability of these sports associations to improve their financial positions. For example, even though recreational running has become tremendously popular in Malaysia, as evidenced by the proliferation in the number of races around the country, the association in charge of athletics, the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF), does not have an updated Facebook page, let alone a functioning website.

    Our track and field team performed better than expected by winning 8 golds, 8 silvers and 9 bronzes including a historic bronze in the men’s marathon and a SEA games record in the men’s hammer throw. Yet none of this was documented in the MAF’s Facebook page, where the most recent entry was in 2014. The supposed MAF website is actually a food and travel blog.

    Likewise, the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) does not have a Facebook page and its website has not been updated with the SEA Games performance results of our swimmers.

    In a brief survey of 37 Malaysian sports associations which sent athletes to the SEA Games, only 21 have a Facebook presence (either a page or a group) and not all of these pages are active. Credit must be given to the Ice Skating Association of Malaysia (ISAM) and the Malaysia Basketball Association (MABA) for their active Facebook engagement and in showcasing the achievements of their athletes. Ironically, despite having a very social media savvy player within its midst, the FB page for the Royal Malaysian Polo Association (RMPA) does not seem particularly engaging or engaged.

    Although having an active FB page is no guarantee of sporting success, it is an indicator of how engaged these sports associations are with their fans and the larger public. How likely, for example, are corporate sponsors willing to support these sports associations if they can see that there is very little public engagement or fan support behind these associations? It would be far more worthwhile for these corporate sponsors to approach individual athletes who are already public figures, rather than to support the associations which these individuals belong to.

    The lack of an active social media presence also means that these sports associations are not doing much to grow their fan base by giving information on local competitions and profiling athletes within the sport. Again, going back to athletics, which I am more familiar with, there was hardly any publicity for the Malaysia Athletics Open, which took place just before the SEA Games, and is the premier track and field competition in the country.

    There was probably more information circulating on  social media about  running events with mass participation, compared to the Malaysian Open for track and field. While track and field will never be in the same league as football or badminton as a mainstream sport in Malaysia, the fact that the federation in charge of promoting the sport does not seem to be doing its job only adds to the challenges faced by our athletes. Less money and support for the federation means less resources to hire good coaches and send our promising athletes overseas for training and competitions.

    After the SEA Games hype, when the spotlight is no longer on non-mainstream sports, can our athletes take the next step to compete at the Asian Games in 2018 in Jakarta? Can our sports associations play a more active role in promoting their sports and garner more public support?

    Let’s wait and see. In the meantime, I will be part of the cheering crowd at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium to enjoy the closing ceremony for this Sea Games and to celebrate Malaysia’s achievement!

    Dr Ong Kian Ming is the Member of Parliament for Serdang, Selangor and is also the General Manager of Penang Institute in Kuala Lumpur. He holds a PhD in Political Science from Duke University, an MPhil in Economics from the University of Cambridge and a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.

  • 致沙烈赛益的一封信:2017年与1990年今非昔比





    我同意的第一个观点是,尽管在2008和2013大选对选民投票倾向的调查,年轻人支持在野党的比例大于中老年人,我们也不能贸然假设更多的年轻选民会在下一届大选中继续投给希望联盟。无可否认的是,青年和体育部长凯里目前已成为国阵吸引年轻选民的王牌之一,尤其是在社交媒体上十分受到年轻一族的欢迎。对我而言,凯里的社交媒体策略远比纳吉首相来得更有效。 最近,随着他不断贴近人民来鼓励和支持我国东运会选手,甚至代表我国参加马球运动,导致凯利的受欢迎程度又更上一层楼。












    [1] https://sskeruak.blogspot.my/2017/08/analisis-ong-kian-ming-menarik-tetapi.html?m=1

  • Mesej kepada Datuk Seri Panglima Said Salleh Keruak: 2017 bukan 1990

    Kenyataan Media Ahli Parlimen Serdang, Dr. Ong Kian Ming, pada 28hb Ogos, 2017

    Mesej kepada Datuk Seri Panglima Said Salleh Keruak: 2017 bukan 1990

    Saya sedikit terkejut apabila membaca respons dari Menteri Komunikasi, Datuk Seri Panglima Said Salleh Keruak, kepada kenyataan media saya mengenai kemungkinannya berlaku peralihan undi Melayu sebanyak 15% dari BN ke pembangkang pada PRU 14 nanti. Biasanya, Menteri Barisan Nasional (BN) tidak begitu suka memberi balasan kepada kenyataan media saya yang mengandungi angka dan fakta. Saya ucapkan tahniah kepada Menteri Komunikasi atas kepekaan beliau terhadap peralihan undi Melayu di PRU 14.

    Saya setuju dengan beberapa perkara yang dibangkitkan oleh Said Salleh.[1]

    Pertama, saya setuju bahawa Pakatan Harapan tidak boleh menganggap bahawa pengundi muda akan lebih cenderung kepada pihak pembangkang walaupun di PRU 2008 dan 2013, berdasarkan kajian undi mengikut saluran, kadar sokongan untuk pembangkang di saluran pengundi muda lebih tinggi berbanding dengan saluran pengundi tua. Tidak boleh dinafikan bahawa senjata utama BN untuk menarik pengundi muda, iaitu Menteri Belia dan Sukan Khairy Jamaluddin, mendapat sambutan yang baik di kalangan orang muda, terutamanya melalui media sosial. Pada pendapat saya, strategi media sosial beliau jauh lebih berkesan berbanding dengan Perdana Menteri kita. Populariti Khairy melonjak lagi kerana beliau bukan sahaja turun padang untuk memberi galakkan kepada para atlit sukan SEA kita tetapi juga turun padang untuk mewakili negara dalam sukan polo.

    Kedua, saya setuju bahawa negara kita tidak mengalami kegawatan ekonomi buat masa sekarang, bukan seperti situasi menjelang PRU 1999.

    Namun, saya rasa Said Salleh patut sedar bahawa 2017 bukan 1990.

    Menjelang PRU 1990, parti pembangkang hanya memegang 27 daripada 177 kerusi parlimen ataupun 15% daripada jumlah kerusi parlimen. Menjelang PRU 14, parti pembangkang (termasuk ahli parlimen bebas) memegang 89 daripada 222 kerusi parlimen ataupun 40%.

    Menjelang PRU 1990, parti pembangkang tidak menguasai mana-mana kerajaan negeri. Menjelang PRU 14, pihak pembangkang telah membentuk kerajaan di tiga negeri.

    Menjelang PRU 1990, semua media dikawal oleh kerajaan. Menjelang PRU 14, media atas talian (online) memberi persaingan yang hebat kepada media arus perdana dari segi jumlah pengguna. Media sosial memberi satu lagi arus kepada pihak pembangkang untuk menyampaikan maklumat kepada pengundi.

    Menjelang PRU 1990, pihak pembangkang diketuai oleh seorang bekas Menteri Kewangan yang keluar dari parti UMNO. Menjelang PRU 14, pihak pembangkang dipimpin oleh seorang bekas Perdana Menteri Malaysia, dua bekas Timbalan Perdana Menteri Malaysia, ketua pembangkang, seorang bekas Menteri Besar (Kedah), seorang Menteri Besar (Selangor) dan seorang Ketua Menteri (Pulau Pinang).

    Menjelang PRU 1990, pemimpin muda parti pembangkang tidak beberapa diketahui orang ramai. Menjelang PRU 14, pemimpin muda Pakatan Harapan yang berusia 40 tahun ke bawah termasuk Nurul Izzah, Syed Saddiq, Nik Nazmi, Wong Kah Woh, Hannah Yeoh, Zairil Khir Johari, Steven Sim, Yeo Bee Yin, Kasturi Patto dan ramai lagi. Selain daripada Khairy Jamaluddin, pemimpin muda Barisan Nasional yang dikenali orang ramai adalah Jamal Yunos yang berminat untuk bertanding jawatan ketua Pemuda UMNO.

    Menjelang PRU 1990, GST tak wujud dan subsidi minyak, gula, minyak masak dan sebagainya masih wujud. Menjelang PRU 14, pelaksanaan GST dan penarikan balik subsidi-subsidi mengurangkan pendapatan orang ramai dan meningkatkan kos kehidupan dari bandar hingga ke kampung.

    Menjelang PRU 1990, Perdana Menteri masa itu tidak terlibat dalam skandal mega yang memburukkan nama negara di seluruh dunia. Menjelang PRU 14, Malaysia lebih dikenali sebagai negara ‘kleptokrat’ akibat daripada skandal 1MDB di mana duit berbilion-bilion disyaki dicuri daripada rakyat Malaysia dan digunakan untuk membeli permata, rumah mewah, karya lukisan dan poster, kapal layar dan sebagainya.

    Semua faktor ini tidak bermakna peralihan undi Melayu sebanyak 15% daripada BN kepada pembangkang semestinya akan berlaku. Tetapi, adakah blogpost Said Salleh menunjukkan bahawa UMNO sendiri takut peralihan undi orang Melayu kepada pembangkang akan menjadi suatu realiti di PRU 14?

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Ahli Parlimen Serdang

    [1] https://sskeruak.blogspot.my/2017/08/analisis-ong-kian-ming-menarik-tetapi.html?m=1

  • Message to Datuk Seri Panglima Said Salleh Keruak: 2017 is not 1990

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 28th of August, 2017

    Message to Datuk Seri Panglima Said Salleh Keruak: 2017 is not 1990

    I was a little surprised to read that the Minister for Communications, Datuk Seri Penglima Said Salleh Keruak, responded to my media statement on the possibility of a 15% swing in the Malay vote against BN in the 14thGeneral Election. Usually, Barisan National (BN) Ministers do not like to respond to my media statements which contain facts and figures. I congratulate the Minister for Communications for his awareness of the swing in the Malay vote as we approach the 14th GE.

    I agree with a number of points he made in his blogpost.[1]

    Firstly, I agree that Pakatan Harapan (PH) cannot assume that young voters are more supportive of the opposition even though in GE2008 and GE2013, based on research on the voting streams, the support level for the opposition in the younger voting streams was higher than that in the older voting streams. It cannot be denied that the BN’s main weapon to court younger voters, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin, is well received among the younger generation, especially through social media. In my opinion, Khairy’s social media strategy is more effective than that of our Prime Minister’s. His popularity has taken another step upwards after ‘going to the ground’ to encourage and support our SEA Games athletes as well as representing our country in the sport of polo.

    Secondly, I agree that our country is not currently experiencing an economic crisis, at least for now, unlike the situation approaching GE1999.

    But Said Salleh should be aware that 2017 is not 1990.

    Prior to GE1990, the opposition parties only held 27 out of 177 parliament seats or 15% of total parliament seats. Prior to GE14, the opposition parties (including independent MPs) hold 89 out of 222 parliament seats or 40%.

    Prior to GE1990, the opposition did not control a single state government. Prior to GE14, the opposition are the state governments in three states.

    Prior to GE1990, all the media were controlled by the government. Prior to GE14, the online media is giving the mainstream media a run for its money in terms of the number of users. Social Media has given another channel to the opposition to send its message to voters.

    Prior to GE1990, the opposition was led by a former Minister of Finance who had left UMNO. Prior to GE14, the opposition is led by a former Prime Minister, two former Deputy Prime Ministers, the leader of the opposition, a former Menteri Besar (Kedah), a Menteri Besar (Selangor) and a Chief Minister (Penang).

    Prior to GE1990, the young leaders in the opposition were not well known by many. Prior to GE14, the young leaders in Pakatan Harapan who are 40 and under include Nurul Izzah, Syed Saddiq, Nik Nazmi, Wong Kah Woh, Hannah Yeoh, Zairil Khir Johari, Steven Sim, Yeo Bee Yin, Kasturi Patto and many others. Other than Khairy Jamaluddin, the most well-known young leader in the BN is arguably Jamal Yunos who aspires to run for the UMNO Youth Chief position.

    Prior to GE1990, GST did not exist while petrol, sugar, cooking oil and other subsidies were still in place. Prior to GE14, the implementation of the GST and the withdrawal of various subsidies have decreased the income of the people and increased the cost of living from the cities to the kampungs.

    Prior to GE1990, the Prime Minister at that time was not involved in any mega scandals which stained the country’s reputation all over the world. Prior to GE14, Malaysia is more well known as a kleptocratic state as a result of the 1MDB scandal where billions of ringgit are suspected to have been stolen from the Malaysian people and used to buy diamonds, bungalows, paintings and posters, and yachts, among others.

    All these factors do not mean that a Malay swing of 15% from the BN to the opposition will take place. But, one wonders, does Said Salleh’s blogpost show that UMNO itself is afraid that this Malay vote swing to the opposition will become a reality in GE14?

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] https://sskeruak.blogspot.my/2017/08/analisis-ong-kian-ming-menarik-tetapi.html?m=1

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